Fangraphs posted their list of the top 42 prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday morning. They include their scouting grades and future value ratings for each player on the list, as well as provide some extra names they feel are worth watching. It’s a list that includes everyone in the system, so there are names on there from the DSL/International signings, which you won’t find yet on our own top 50 list. Every player in the top 42 has a report as well.
The top six were already know from this list, because Fangraphs had six Pirates in their top 100 prospects. Ke’Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, Mitch Keller, Travis Swaggerty, Tahnaj Thomas and Liover Peguero are followed by Quinn Priester, Brennan Malone, Jared Oliva and Cody Bolton in the top ten.
I won’t go through the entire list, because there is a lot to read. If you have any questions from the list, I’ll be happy to answer them throughout the day below, because there are some names you won’t find on our top ten for affiliates that we do at the end of each season.
There are also some discrepancies, such as the report for Cody Bolton mentioning a shoulder and groin injury. He didn’t have a shoulder injury, it was a forearm issue in 2018, and the groin injury was code for “reached his innings limit”, which obviously wasn’t released information because minor league paperwork has to be vague for no apparent reason (sarcasm). It’s possible that Bolton rates a little higher with that info, because it appears by the report that the shoulder issue was a concern. Their report for him this year is similar to last year’s list. Bolton added a cutter this year as his second pitch and that’s not mentioned.
The biggest surprise on this list has to be the absence of Will Craig. Not just because he isn’t in the top 42, but he also isn’t in the added group of “potential role players” who didn’t make the top 42.
Rodolfo Castro gets a much higher rating here than elsewhere, coming in at #12. Rodolfo Nolasco ranks #17, which is very aggressive for a DSL player, but we wrote good things about him in our DSL top ten, which was put together with a lot of help this past year.
The Steven Jennings report is very similar to what we have on him, which gives you some insight into the rankings process. For Fangraphs, he ranks 23rd. We have him outside of the top 50, but not written off yet. I’d say the only difference between our reports would be the lack of stamina from Jennings. He will sit 88-92 early in starts, but he has been lower, especially in the later innings, when he’s sometimes mid-to-high 80s. If Jennings adds velocity and stamina, then he would be much more interesting, but we haven’t seen any improvements in either area yet. Same basic reports, just different thought process.
Alexander Mojica, a crowd favorite here after his great DSL season, ranks 32nd. His tool grades include two major differences, though I don’t think either would affect his overall ranking. He is rated as a 20 runner (think 39-year-old catcher speed), but Mojica runs well for his size. He’s probably a 50 runner now, with a lower future value. Something like what we saw from Jose Osuna coming up the system. Or Jose Ozuna, if you have a long memory. Mojica also has a cannon for an arm, so a 50 grade is too low.
Cristopher Cruz ranks 33rd on the list, the only player from the 2019-20 international signing class. I gave thoughts on ranking those players after Baseball America put out their list. I’m not going to attempt to discuss Cruz’s ranking in the system right now, but I will say that if we agree that he ranks 33rd, then there should definitely be other 2019-20 international players in the top 42. The BA article link above explains that much better.
Andy Maldonado making the top 42 is an even bigger surprise than Will Craig not making the list. Maldonado struggled badly with control as a rookie in the DSL last year (37 walks, six hit batters in 31.1 innings). He’s also suspended this entire season due to PEDs. After talks about the DSL top ten this year, he wasn’t even considered for the 11-15 group I added at the end, and that was before the suspension. So this is a very interesting ranking.