When I was planning out the Prospect Roundtable for each team, Henry Davis was in Greensboro.
My question to the team this week was going to take advantage of that loaded group of prospects, which didn’t really have a clear standout.
Then, Henry Davis was promoted to Altoona.
So, my prompt to the team this week: Pick one player in Altoona not named Henry Davis who you think will have the best MLB career.
JOHN DREKER: Liover Peguero
Liover Peguero is going to be a contributor on both sides of the ball and on the bases. He’s playing this year as one of the league’s youngest players, yet he’s also been the teams best player on offense, and he’s consistently putting together solid at-bats. His approach this year at the plate shows a little more confidence and the at-bats look better. He has all of the skills to play a strong shortstop, and he’s 7-for-8 in stolen bases already, after 28 steals last year. I feel comfortable saying that he’s going to contribute positively to the team even if he doesn’t reach his ceiling. The fact that he’s doing better early on in Altoona than he did in the hitter-friendly Greensboro, gives me more confidence that he will reach that peak.
WILBUR MILLER: Liover Peguero
The obvious choices here are Liover Peguero, Quinn Priester, and Mike Burrows, with Nick Gonzales fading rapidly and Luis Ortiz a dark horse. I’m always reluctant to bank on pitching prospects and there’s the added complication that the Pirates’ problems with young pitchers haven’t improved in the slightest under the new front office. (Just ask Clay Holmes and Chad Kuhl.) So I’ll go with Peguero. He has a very broad base of tools that should sustain him to some extent even if the rough edges – patience and errors – don’t get fully smoothed over. He plays a premium defensive position and has the bat, including some power, to succeed in the majors. It’s a positive sign that he went from a hitter’s paradise in Greensboro to a tough park for hitters in Altoona, yet he’s taken a step forward with the bat.
ANTHONY MURPHY: Mike Burrows
I think it’s close between the two more obvious answers in Liover Peguero and Mike Burrows. In the end, I think the floor for Burrows works in his favor. He has the stuff to kind of be a plug-and-play type of player in your pitching staff, whether that be in the rotation or whatever role you want in the bullpen. His stuff plays to both, especially if the changeup continues to develop. Burrows’ control has improved from last year, and it hasn’t cost him any of his swing-and-miss stuff. If anyone on the Altoona staff can make the Roansy Contreras jump, it’d be Burrows, and his overall stuff can make him successful at any role he ends up playing.
RYAN PALENCER: Quinn Priester
With the upper levels a bit dry on top of the rotation starting prospects, the players I’m most excited to see in Pittsburgh are between two: Quinn Priester and Mike Burrows. Between them, I favor the upside and age of Priester. The start to the season on the IL is alarming, but an oblique is better news than an arm if time is allowed for it to heal completely. Assuming he gets back around the second half of the season, his development will not be too stunted, and getting a few less miles on the tread is never a bad thing for a young pitcher.
TIM WILLIAMS: Liover Peguero
My player features this week were on Liover Peguero and Mike Burrows. I picked them, because they are — pre-Henry Davis — the top hitting and pitching prospects on this team right now. Burrows has moved up for me ahead of currently injured teammate Quinn Priester, and I’m still very high on Priester. I’d put Burrows as the second best pitching prospect in the system right now, behind Roansy Contreras. That said, when watching the hitting tools and the all-out play from Liover Peguero, I can’t help but think of the guy the Pirates traded to get him: Starling Marte. He’s got the ability to hit for average and hit for some power, despite a low walk rate. In both cases, I think it’s more “Why walk when you can get a hit?” It takes a talented player to be able to pull of that kind of successful hitting profile. Peguero has had some defensive miscues, but as I detailed, those aren’t due to lack of skill. Marte had similar struggles and inconsistencies that ironed out with age and maturity. I also think Peguero’s athleticism, speed, and hit tool could carry his career as a starter into his 30s. There’s a chance Burrows could have the better start to his MLB career, but long-term, Peguero profiles as an annual 3-4+ WAR player who can help anchor a playoff run.