Mitch Keller Leads the Way on the Cover of the 2018 Prospect Guide

If the Pirates are going to return to being contenders in the next few years, they will need help from the prospects in the upper levels of their minor league system. Fortunately, they have a few prospects who can step in over the next year or two, after starting off the 2018 season in the upper levels.

When designing the cover for the 2018 Prospect Guide, I originally considered having Mitch Keller as the sole person on the front. Keller was on the front of last year’s Prospect Guide, but is the top prospect in the system, so it wouldn’t be out of place to have him on the front again. Then the Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole trades happened, and it made more sense to have that group of upper level prospects on the front.

So Keller was joined by Austin Meadows, Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, and Ke’Bryan Hayes. All five players are in the top seven in our recent system rankings, and all are in our top three tiers. They will also largely determine the future direction of the team. Here is a look at the cover, with thoughts to follow:

The Pirates need Keller to step up and be a top of the rotation guy, joining Jameson Taillon to give the Pirates a solid one-two punch. They need one of Tucker or Newman to replace Jordy Mercer at shortstop, and hopefully find an average or better option for the position. They need Meadows to stay healthy and reach his upside to join Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco in the outfield. And they need Hayes to either provide insurance if Colin Moran doesn’t work out, or to become a better option than Moran.

They have an impact prospect in Keller, but need one or more of the position players to emerge as either an above-average guy or an impact guy to help boost the current MLB team. Meadows has that upside, but has been held back by injuries. Hayes or Tucker would be the next best bets, with Newman having a lower upside and a higher floor than the other players.

Meadows and Newman should arrive in 2018. Hayes and Tucker could arrive at some point in 2019. And Keller could arrive as early as the second half of 2018, or sometime in 2019, depending on how aggressive the Pirates are with him in the upper levels.

If the Pirates are going to contend in 2019 or 2020, then these five players will be important pieces from within that could help lead to a contender. So it only seemed fitting that all five should be on display on this year’s cover.

The 2018 Prospect Guide is available as an eBook. You can currently purchase the book for just $19.99 and get our top 50 prospects. The eBook will be updated right before Spring Training with the full book, including reports on every player in the system. We also have a limited number of paperback copies of the book available for those of you who want an actual book. Those will be shipped out around the start of Spring Training.

With the Pirates currently in a rebuild, there is no better site to follow right now than Pirates Prospects, and there is no better product to have than the 2018 Prospect Guide, which gives you information on every prospect in the system, keeping you informed on which players could play a role in the future of the franchise.

  • What is on Austin Meadows’ throwing hand?

  • I purchased the ebook last week. How can I access it? I have not received any email follow-ups.

  • Unrelated Fact:

    Prussian Emperor Fredrick the Great stunk. He never bathed in his life. He was a hydrophobe. He made his coffee with champagne instead of water.

    You’re welcome.


  • Gentlemen.

    Call me old fashioned, but I love having the book on the shelf. Even though the print is small, I can tape magnifying glasses to my face and it’s in glorious large font.

    Plus, I’ve always said you could tell a lot about a person from his bathroom bookshelf….

    If you look at the bottom shelf between The Official Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies IV, you’ll note the guide books from ’14-’17. Looking forward to this one too.

    When I was a Pa. State Trooper and I’d be in someone’s residence on a case, I’d always carefully note the surroundings in the place to kind of “read” the person I was observing. What books or videos were on the shelves, among other things, tells you a lot about the subject.

    Go on and look closely. If you judge me, you’ve got to post your bathroom bookshelf….

    Oh boy…


    • I assume you bought it already, but in case you didn’t I wouldn’t wait too long. The paperback version could sell out before we actually have them in hand and we are only going to the printer once.

      • JD.

        Yes I did. Love the book. Like the digital too. Best of both worlds. You can count on me for purchasing both every year.

        These are exciting times for the Bucs as they re-tool. No place better than P2 for all the straight news on the team.


    • My bathroom doesn’t have a bookshelf. It’s far too small for that, so I have to carry whatever book I’m reading in with me. (Right now, that’s The Odyssey.)

      I do, however, have a lovely old bookshelf in my bedroom, and I’m about as well read as you’d all expect someone who writes so elegantly as I do to be. I was never able to get through Catch 22 or Herzog, but just about everything else on the shelf I’ve read.

      Now you, you love movies. The Pop Singles book is an interesting choice.

      • Wabbit_Season
        February 5, 2018 5:16 pm


        I’m a big reader and I couldn’t get through Catch 22 either. Odyssey was cool. If you wanna make allusions at all, you have to have that one in the arsenal.

        I wrote a movie column for many years, so that explains that.

        The top pops book is very cool. Expensive too. It lists every hit song ever even going back before the Billboard chart days into what they called Jukebox surveys.

        You give me your date of birth: I can give you the #1 song on the day that YOU came out!

        I think Birth Songs say much more about you than do your astrological signs. TO WIT: My birth song: Hit the Road, Jack… by Ray Charles. See?

        What’s YOUR birth song?


        • I defer to you. Jan 4, 1989.

          And I just found Catch 22 to be too repetitive. He told the same stories over and over, and I didn’t really get a sense of any sort of plot direction. It was amusing, but it didn’t feel otherwise worthwhile to me.

  • who smiles when they are fielding a slow roller that you need to charge and make a quick throw? Something is wrong with that dude 🙂

    • I get the impression he’s super charismatic from the limited exposure we get to him through this site.

  • Tim: I thought the intent was to print the books and mail them before ST began. I realize the logistics issues involved, but do you have a ballpark date of when the mailing will commence?

    • I’ll have a better schedule at the end of the week, depending on what I hear from the printer.

    • Answered right after the link to buy it above. We are working on the book right now. In fact, I stopped to answer this question:

      “We also have a limited number of paperback copies of the book available for those of you who want an actual book. Those will be shipped out around the start of Spring Training.”

      • Thank you both. ST begins around Feb 20 and I do not get there until March 3 so the books should arrive by then? Tickets for the game at Orlando with the Braves on the 5th, and then we go over to Clearwater and got some excellent tickets for Toronto at Dunedin. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to catch a start of TG or Kingham at one of those places. Then Pirate City on the 8th and possibly the 9th

  • Lee Foo Young
    February 5, 2018 9:17 am

    Personally, I like it! Nice job!