Keith Law Ranks Three Pittsburgh Pirates Among the Top 51-100 Prospects

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.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 22, 2018 2:26 pm

    Meadows is dropping in the rankings like Hansen did a few years ago….I know part of this was due to injuries, part to lackluster performance. Hopefully he turns it around in 2018.

    • There is a LOT to turn around. Its kind of like all the IF’s required for the Pirates to compete all wrapped into a single package. IF he can stay healthy. IF he can hit for average at AAA. IF he can start to hit for power. IF he can start to steal bases. That’s a lot of if’s to answer just to get himself back onto the prospect map.

  • Depending on how disillusioned Law became with Newman last year, he might squeak into the top 50 still. I could also see Tucker being there. Or Moran. Or Reynolds. I don’t think all of them will be there, but one or two may well join Keller. Which makes Law probably the highest on the Pirates’ system. (Though, he already is, I guess.)

    • Law is very high on Hayes, I would not bet on anyone besides Keller being rated higher than him, but I guess anything is possible.

  • I like Tucker better than Hayes, Baz, and Meadows so I personally wouldn’t be surprised if he joined Keller in the top 50.

    I am also disappointed that Reynolds or Moran didn’t sneak in to the above list. Not saying he is wrong, strictly just hoping that someone on the inside has them ranked higher.

  • JK, the guy who started the Nutting online petition that now has over 56,000 signatures, just posted a live “interview” with Frank Coonelly on KDKA this morning. It is a 9 minute monologue and Larry Richert and John Shumway were only able to get in one question. Came off as the usual fact-twisting tripe with an emotional defense of Nutting thrown in. His message:

    1. trades done for baseball reasons
    2. trades were baseball ops decisions, Bob was last to know and agree
    3. Nutting personally responsible for 2013-15 success.
    4. Payroll goes up every year

    You can probably find it on Guaranteed to raise your blood pressure.

    • Why? Sounds like the truth to me. Are you sure you understand how the today’s game works? Why don’t you go spew somewhere where all they do is complain and no nothing about the game.

      Shoe kind of fits…

      • The truth?
        Joe….suggest you read some of the articles posted by well respected national writers on the Pirates and the state of baseball in general. There is no financial incentive to win, lip service is given to a commitment to “compete.” Do I have to give you a chronology of organizational untruths? Let’s take one…..Neal to the public last year ..”we’re going to spend the Kang and Marte savings on improving the ballclub.”
        Take a look at the Forbes rankings on payroll and revenues……..then get back to me if you want to pursue a debate on who understands how the game works today.

        • If you think for a minute that Nutting said something like “Frank, you get Neal to trade Cutch because he costs $14.74MM” you are a fool. Nutting gives Neal a budget, which he extends forward to a five – ten year plan for $’s spent and he and assistants makes decisions based off of what he deems best. Owners give their upper level employees guidelines upon which they are to work. Owners do not make the day-to day decisions. If they did, they wouldn’t need team presidents and GM’s, they’d just to it all themselves. It’s quite obvious that you have never been in a position of that nature. So I understand why you would react with the uneducated masses.

          What would you have them do, sign Cutch to a 7 year extension for $150MM? Keep Cole so he could leave in 2? Maybe we should still have Jason Bay lying around because we signed him to a 10 year deal 9 years ago. Please, enough. The issue isn’t that you don’t know. The issue is that what you know ain’t so. Maybe Jack Wilson should be the 25th man on the roster still getting $4MM per.

          • Ignore the facts and make up a hypothetical conversation.
            These trade decisions were not made pursuant to guidelines handed down by Bob to upper level employees. You are ignoring statements made by Neal, Frank and by Bob himself.

            You seem a bit naive or myopic in equating a baseball franchise to a typical operating company with a 5-10 year strategic plan. Baseball players and their unpredictable performance and longevity are unique forms of assets……. not buildings, servers, and easily replaceable employees.
            As for your slurs about education and positions of authority, you couldn’t be more wrong.

            The Pittsburgh Pirates decided to maximize profits and not compete in 2017 and 2018. The facts, words and deeds prove that beyond a doubt.

            Your Jason Bay and Jack Wilson examples are silly, sorry if I touched a nerve.

            • Don’t think the trades made this offseason were the whole reason behind it…the pirates had a 2-3 year window to win and try to make a World Series …we could have traded meadows Glasnow bell etc etc etc for huge difference makers on those teams but we didn’t …now that the team won’t contend for the next 2-3 years why not keep cutch around …also if you trade the face of the franchise and don’t trade j-hay or anyone else then your full of it…if u want to rebuild then trade anything u can to get young propects BC as we know for every Josh bell there’s 5-6 hansons

              • Huntington has publicly admitted he miscalculated and made mistakes with his moves after 2015 that started the slide, so you are right that they missed their window. I’m among the many who think the yield for Cutch and Cole was weak…..not a single newly acquired asset is in baseball’s top 100 prospects!
                Sadly, the organization may now react to the national outcry by freezing up and refusing to move Harrison and others of value to facilitate the full rebuild. I can see Frank and Neal standing in front of the cameras saying “we are absolutely committed to fielding a competitive team in 2018.”
                Right……a team with a ceiling of 75 wins.

                • At first glance i was upset with the return also but if u look deeper i think we made out…Moran should be the opening day 3B coming off a career year in AAA, where he changed his swing adding power…Michael Feliz gets added to the bullpen where if he can turn it around could be a huge get for us…Musgrove also another solid get, wouldnt surprise me if he puts up better numbers then cole this year..Crick adds an other power arm to the pen..Reynolds is hitting .312 last year and if he can add power then we got a steal there…people forget that Cutch only had 1 year left on his deal…we were never getting huge top prospects for him..I actually think J-hay would get us the most back in a trade…and if we really want to rebuild i would move marte as well and even nova…

                  think our bullpen should be one of the best in baseball, question is can we score runs

          • The #1 problem is his budget is absolute shit for how much he pockets from other teams. The last 3 years we should have been going for it, not replacing Walker/Alvarez/Grilli/Melancon with Ivan Nova?? John Neise?? A second run of Bastardo?? S Rod AGAIN??
            Trading our closer when were 3 games out??
            They won’t get a dollor of my money until they stop with this small market trash and call it what it is, a profit market.

  • Guys, Ke’Bryan is good.

  • Law had Bryan Reynolds as his #2 prospect for the Giants. I thought he might crack Law’s top 100.

    • You have to wonder if these guys are falling through the cracks on the prospect lists because of the trades or whether Moran, Reynolds and Crick are all spiraling down the ratings because of performance.

      • I think Reynolds stock is going up and he could be mid season top 100 with a good showing in Altoona.

        • I hope that happens. To steal a phrase from a colleague, it would be a “bitter pill” if Reynolds, Moran, Crick and company don’t pan out after trading Cole and Andrew.

  • Can’t imagine him still being as high on Newman as he’s been.

    • I doubt it, but with Law, I can’t say for certain. He dropped Newman to 44th in the mid-season rankings and he didn’t do anything in the second half to improve his stock.

  • Wonder if Cole Tucker sneaks in to Law’s top 50.

  • IF Polanco has leaned down and is able to protect his legs, and IF Meadows can protect his legs, the outfield looks pretty good. I still shudder at the thought of Polanco’s defense in left…he looks like a juvenile giraffe out there.

  • I met Keith Law last summer when he was promoting his book. It was right after he dropped Meadows down on his mid-season list. I asked why the drop and his answer was “he’s just not good.” That was disheartening to hear, but he did love Hayes and their middle infielders.

    • That sounds like a rushed comment from him, not actual insight. He has him ranked 70th right now and he was mostly injured since that mid-season update. You can’t be “not good” and rank as the 70th best prospect in baseball.

      After Meadows got on track in April, all of the tools were there that had him ranked high going into the year. I think the upside is still the same, just the chances of him reaching them are lower due to the injury factor. As I said though, I know that he’s putting in the work this off-season to attempt to stay on the field.

      • Right. Law said he liked him out of high school and liked him as a kid, but wouldn’t bank on him being the heir to Cutch with what he’s seeing at AAA.

        • That sounds like a more reasonable comment. I wouldn’t bank on it either until he shows he can be healthy over a long stretch.

      • Actually, at that point in time, that would be a very accurate statement from Law. Meadows was not good. If he starts slow this season at AAA, he will not sniff a top 100 list by midseason. He has shown no power ever, no ability to steal bases, has an average arm, lately hasn’t hit for average, and is continually injured. Honestly, his name is the only thing keeping him on prospect lists right now.