With Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs each posting their top 100 rankings on Monday (101 for Baseball Prospectus), they followed those articles up with their list of the best prospects outside of the top 100. Four Pittsburgh Pirates received mentions in those articles, while another was named a sleeper rookie for the 2018 season by ESPN Insider. All of that adds up to a Prospect Notes article.
Starting with the list by Fangraphs, it needs a little explanation first. They rank players by Future Value (FV) using the 20-80 scouting scale. A 50 ranking would be an average Major League player. Mitch Keller was their 23rd best prospect and received a 60 FV. Cole Tucker was the fifth of five Pirates in their top 100 and he received a 50 FV. The list by Fangraphs today represents guys with a 45 FV, who could possibly see that number raised in the future, but they aren’t there yet. It’s a rather large list of players, which includes three Pirates.
Oneil Cruz headlines the lower-levels corner infield list and gets some nice praise. Using their best scouting lingo (sorry if not everyone understands the technical terms), Fangraphs says that “Cruz projects to grow into an absurd amount of power”.
Lolo Sanchez continued to get some love this off-season with a mention among 15 outfielders outside of their top 100. They note that he’s one of eight players on that list who projects to stick in center field. Earlier today, BA had Sanchez among their top center fielders, and they also named him a potential breakout player for 2018.
Kevin Kramer was in the group of players titled “Performers Staring Us in the Face”. They didn’t expand on why Kramer made the list, other than the group explanation of it’s guys who have performed well, but don’t quite rank as 50 FV players.
2018 Rookie Sleeper
ESPN Insider posted an article yesterday for subscribers, which gives a sleeper rookie for all 30 big league clubs. For the Pirates, they selected Jordan Milbrath, who the Pirates took in the Rule 5 draft. They expect him to make the big league club and be a righty specialist. It will be interesting to see if the Pirates do keep him because that would mean that some players with big league time didn’t make the team on Opening Day. There are 17 pitchers on the 40-man roster besides Milbrath who are all either certain to make the roster, or seem like they have a strong case to make it.
Obviously the Pirates aren’t carrying 17 pitchers (18 including Milbrath), so 5-6 of those players will need to head to Indianapolis. That will leave some tough cuts during Spring Training, so I think Milbrath is really going to need to earn the job and won’t get any leeway due to being a Rule 5 pick. Tim Williams talked to him during Winter Mini-Camp about his new arm angle, which saw him increase his velocity, getting him up to 99 MPH at times.
Just Missed List
Cole Tucker started off the prospect ranking season very quietly, with no mentions by Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, Keith Law and Baseball Prospectus in their top 100 lists. Things turned around yesterday when he was ranked 74th by Fangraphs, then ZiPS rated him as the 50th best prospect. It didn’t end there, as he was ranked among the top 20 shortstop prospects for Baseball America in a very strong group of prospects at the position.
Tucker got more notice today from Baseball Prospectus, who named him among the 13 players who just missed their top 101 prospects list. They have a nice write-up for subscribers where they praise his defense, base running and instincts, as well as his hitting, noting that he started to tap into some power. As we have noted many times, they want to see him remain healthy before getting too high on him, but he’s showing the potential to be a strong Major League starter.