Keith Law at ESPN began his rankings of the top prospects in the game on Monday morning, starting with the second half of the top 100 list. Over the next two weeks, he will have the top prospects per team, the players who just missed the top 100 and the best farm systems. In the past he has done the top ten at each position as well, though that is not on his current schedule, which can be found in the link just below.
Law has three Pirates in his 51-100 group. The top prospect is a little surprising based on who he is ahead of on this list. It seems more like a projected ranking if things going well this year, rather than a current snapshot of the top prospects now. Based on his list, I wouldn’t be surprised if only Mitch Keller is in the top 50, giving the Pirates four players in his top 100. We will see if that’s true tomorrow, or if someone else can also crack the top 50 with Keller.
As for today’s list, here’s the rankings for Pirates:
61. Ke’Bryan Hayes
65. Shane Baz
70. Austin Meadows
I won’t go into too much detail on his reasoning for the rankings because ESPN Insider is a subscription site, but I will give some thoughts.
Law had Hayes ranked 74th overall last year, so it’s not a big jump in the rankings. He has obviously been high on him for quite some time. Law loves his defense (as does everyone else), base running ability, instincts and ability to put the ball in play. He does mention that Hayes went more for conditioning during the 2016-17 off-season and more strength could help him add power to his game, which would help make his one of the best prospects in the game when combined with everything else he does on the field.
Many of you already know that Hayes had no choice in whether to go conditioning over adding strength during that off-season. He had a cracked rib and back injury late in 2016 and that kept him from lifting for most of the off-season, but he was able to get into better overall condition. So it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him add that muscle to his frame this off-season because he went into it healthy.
Baz got a high ranking for his arsenal of pitches and his easy velocity. As with any pitcher just out of high school, Law notes that Baz’s outlook still has a big difference between the floor and ceiling, but he does mention him being a possible #2 starter in the future and even higher if everything goes right.
Meadows was all the way up at #9 for Law last year, making this is a big drop. He’s still the 70th ranked prospect for him, so that’s not as bad as the drop sounds. The reason for the ranking is the injuries and inability to stay on the field, plus the slow start last year. Meadows clearly has a lot to prove this season and at least from afar, I can tell you that he has been putting in the time with a trainer, doing exercises/lifting specifically geared towards keeping him healthy.
The top 50 will be out tomorrow morning, plus there will be another prospect ranking later on today.