Baseball America continued their rankings of the top prospects by position on Thursday morning, going with corner outfielders this time. For the fourth straight list this week, the Pittsburgh Pirates had two players ranked among the best.
Here are the previous articles from this series (click on the name):
C/1B: Mason Martin
2B: Kevin Kramer
As for the corner outfield list, BA gives the group a four star ranking (out of five) which is better than the center field class and only trails the shortstop class. The list goes 30 deep and includes 12 players who are among the top 100 prospects in the game. They have newly-acquired Bryan Reynolds in the 21st spot and Jordan Luplow is ranked 25th.
Luplow got some competition recently with the Pirates about to sign Daniel Nava (deal still isn’t official yet). It appeared that Luplow, Jose Osuna and Max Moroff would be battling for the final two bench spots before Nava, but now it appears that those three will compete for one spot. That could change obviously due to a trade or injury of course, but it looks like Luplow will be fighting for an Opening Day bench spot at this point.
Reynolds hasn’t played above High-A ball yet, so expect him to be in Altoona this year. It’s unlikely he will make the same jump that Luplow did this past year because the Pirates rarely make that jump. There aren’t many recent cases where a player went from no Double-A time to 41 days in the majors in the same year, at least not in Pittsburgh.
Fangraphs Projects Future WAR
Fangraphs released their KATOH top 100 prospects list on Thursday morning and it’s filled with Pirates. This is their projection system for prospects and their potential WAR over their first six seasons in the majors.
The WAR numbers seem very low for the top of the list, with the best player getting 13.3 WAR by the time he hits free agency. That seems unrealistic that none of them project to be better than 2.2 WAR per year and most are well under 1 WAR average. Many of the players on the list will finish with low WAR numbers obviously, plus some won’t make the majors, but if you use Starling Marte as a comparison, he has 23.3 WAR and less than five years of service time. Jordy Mercer would be one of the top 25 prospects with a year left to still pick up some WAR.
So instead of giving the numbers, I’m just going to note the Pirates and their spot on the list. If you want to check out the WAR rankings in the link up top, just be ready for everyone to be rated low.
18. Ke’Bryan Hayes
19. Cole Tucker
27. Austin Meadows
46. Mitch Keller
57. Jacob Stallings
73. Lolo Sanchez
89. Colin Moran
Mason Martin didn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for the list, but he WAR projection would put him 63rd on the list. Stallings is one that actually seems like a realistic upside. They give him a 5.0 WAR. If he got in six seasons of MLB ball, then I could see his defense being strong enough to get him around that number, while his offense would limit him from being any higher. I should note that I don’t expect him to get six years of service time in the majors, but I could see him doing it if he ends up with a team that has a strong/reliable starting catcher ahead of him.
Projection systems seem to favor Cole Tucker as we are seeing recently, while Mitch Keller seems to be rated low. I think that’s the difference between scouting stats and using both stats and actually scouting.
Regardless of what you think of the WAR rating, it has to make fans happy to see eight Pirates get mentioned in the article.