The top 100 prospect lists are starting to get released, and they come with some encouraging updates for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ rebuilding efforts. Baseball America and Keith Law have released their lists, with both having six Pirates in the top 100. Below is the breakdown of those rankings, compared.
BA Rank – Law Rank
- Oneil Cruz 14th – Henry Davis 20th
- Henry Davis 41st – Quinn Priester 57th
- Nick Gonzales 49th – Oneil Cruz 65th
- Liover Peguero 78th – Liover Peguero 77th
- Roansy Contreras 80th – Roansy Contreras 83rd
- Quinn Priester 88th – Nick Gonzales 93rd
The Pirates haven’t had this many top 100 players in the BA rankings since 2014, when they had seven players in the top 100. That group included Gregory Polanco, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Nick Kingham, Alen Hanson, and Reese McGuire.
The lists this year between BA and Law have some significant differences in rankings for certain players. I broke down each of those players below, and the differences between their ranks. I only cover one organization, so my opinions on where these players should be inside the top 100 should be taken with a grain of salt.
The big question with Cruz is whether he will stick at shortstop. I haven’t seen anyone who is confident he will remain at the position, and that makes sense when you consider that he would be the first shortstop of his size to remain at the position. There’s a consensus of his potential to be an impact hitter, and he could play third base or a corner outfield spot — either way his bat would play. Law’s ranking on Cruz seemed low, but Baseball America’s seemed a bit high. The impact bat is no guarantee to work in the majors, with some plate patience issues due to a long swing and an approach that can be too aggressive. I still would put Cruz as the top prospect in the system, as no one has his upside. As for the top 100, it seems like he’d fit best around the 30s.
There’s another split between Law and BA, with Law having Davis at 20 and BA having him 41st. Each outlet had questions about the position, but loved the power potential of the bat, especially if he can stick behind the plate. Davis and Cruz have always seemed like a similar situation to me: Questions on whether they can stick at their premium position, and enough of a bat to make an impact at another position — corner outfield would be the safest for each with their arm strength. Davis seems like a safer bet to stick at his position, especially if automated balls and strikes give his weaker receiving abilities some relief in the future. If you split the difference, he finishes around 30. I’d still go Cruz over Davis, but I can see the argument for Davis over Cruz.
Law had Priester in the 50s, while BA had him 88th, and ranked behind everyone else on this list. I’m high on Priester, mostly for his ability to adapt and adjust his game. He’s shown some rapid improvements twice so far without much help. The first came in high school, without a pitching coach. The second came in the lost 2020 season, when he added velocity. That didn’t sustain through the entire 2021 season, although it’s easy to forget that this was his first full year, and it came in High-A. I’d side with Law’s ranking here, as I feel Priester should be getting top 50 consideration.
This is the opposite of the Priester situation. Law has Gonzales rated 93rd, and the last prospect on the list. BA has him 49th, and the third best prospect on the list. In this case, there’s a clear difference in how Gonzales is viewed. Law calls him a mistake hitter with power, rather than a pure hitter. BA considers him a pure hitting machine at best, and they’ve been high on his hitting ability since the 2020 draft. Both acknowledged that he played in a hitter friendly park that resulted in a lot of his numbers. I don’t think we can conclusively say that his production was a result of the park, but I don’t think we can still hold the view that Gonzales is a strong bet for a batting title. I’d have him in the middle of these rankings, about where Peguero and Contreras are ranked.
Liover Peguero and Roansy Contreras
Both of these guys are ranked pretty much the same by both outlets. It’s always interesting when this happens, as it almost has a way of confirming the player’s skills. In all of the cases above, you’re left with a natural debate of how good the player will be. Both outlets have Contreras as a potential middle of the rotation starter, with the risk to be a reliever due to his smaller frame. Both feel that Peguero can stick at shortstop in the majors, but acknowledge he’s still raw and far away from the majors. Having both ranked around #80 seems right, as it ranks them appropriately for the risks, but leaves room for growth that they both could realistically achieve.