WTM: Way Too Early Top Prospects for the Pirates’ Full-Season Affiliates

The off-season seems to last forever, but I’m pretty sure it’ll end someday and there’ll be major league and minor league baseball again.  Maybe you’re thinking about splurging on season tickets for one of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates.  You know . . . minor league baseball at minor league prices, instead of PNC prices.  Or maybe you’re just curious which affiliates might be the most interesting next year.

I got curious myself, so I’ve done top-ten-prospect lists for each of the full-season affiliates.  These are obviously tentative, since we don’t know what the assignments will be.  I’ve been working from a depth chart that you can see here.

The chart shows the levels where I think each player will have at least a reasonable chance of opening 2023.  As a prediction or projection, it’s not going to be accurate.  Some guys won’t start where I have them listed; Luis Ortiz, for instance, is very unlikely to open in Pittsburgh, although he should at least get a shot at it.  Some of the pitchers I’ve listed for the Pirates won’t make the roster, and they’ll push other guys from Indianapolis to Altoona, and so on.  And there’ll be personnel moves, starting probably with the Rule 5 draft.

There’s also the fact that the Pirates are seeing a lot that we’re not privy to, in workouts, fall instructs and the like.  That can have a lot of impact, especially with players taking steps forward.  A year ago, it would have been hard to predict that Ortiz would skip Greensboro, for instance, but something convinced the Pirates.

So here are some prospective top tens, as things stand now.  And I should add that these rankings are mine alone. The Pirates Prospects rankings will go live on the site in December.

Indianapolis

1. Endy Rodriguez, C

2. Quinn Priester, RHP

3. Mike Burrows, RHP

4. Nick Gonzales, 2B

5. Liover Peguero, SS

6. Malcom Nunez, 1B

7. Blake Sabol, C

8. Jared Triolo, 3B

9. Colin Selby, RHP

10. Matt Gorski, 1B/OF

Altoona

1. Henry Davis, C

2. Jared Jones, RHP

3. Dariel Lopez, IF

4. Nick Garcia, RHP

5. Hudson Head, OF

6. Abrahan Gutierrez, C

7. Matt Fraizer, OF

8. Ricky DeVito, RHP

9. Omar Cruz, LHP

10. Cristian Charle, RHP

Greensboro

1. Termarr Johnson, SS

2. Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS

3. Anthony Solometo, LHP

4. Carlos Jimenez, RHP

5. Jack Brannigan, RHP/3B

6. Tsung-Che Cheng, SS

7. Po-Yu Chen, RHP

8. Rodolfo Nolasco, OF

9. Jauri Custodio, OF

10. Tres Gonzalez, OF

Bradenton

1. Lonnie White, Jr., OF

2. Javier Rivas, SS

3. Thomas Harrington, RHP

4. Shalin Polanco, OF

5. Hung-Leng Chang, RHP

6. Antwone Kelly, RHP

7. Enmanuel Terrero, OF

8. Braylon Bishop, OF

9. Esmerlyn Valdez, OF

10. Jesus Castillo, IF

Obviously, Indy is the place to be.  That list could have gone to 20.  Altoona is the opposite.  Once you get past Davis, there may not be a whole lot to watch there, unless some guys like Head and Lopez break out.

Greensboro is potentially explosive at the top, especially if the Pirates go ahead and send Johnson there.  Bradenton, naturally, should be very volatile, with a bunch of guys hoping to get on the map.  Ideally, a few players, especially pitchers, will come out of nowhere.

In case you’re wondering about Hunter Barco, who was one of the Pirates’ top 2022 draftees, he isn’t likely to pitch in 2023, or at least not much, in the aftermath of Tommy John.  I left him out.

Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.

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ST1300b

I think you have to say Swaggerty is still top 10 in Indy. IMO over Nunez, Sabol and Selby.
This has to be the year though.

Cobra

Fun list.
*Indy = Joshua Tree. Not a single bad song on the album.
*Altoona = Achtung Baby. Big singles & some great sleeper tracks.
*Greensboro = Unforgettable Fire. You have Pride & Bad mixed with some underrated tracks and some clearly weak tracks.
*Bradenton = the new U2 albums. Not sure what to make of them,time will tell

Tim Williams

Pittsburgh = Pop?

NMR

This is awesome, new article idea!!

john.benedict

Wilbur,
Thanks, Nice work.
Pirates are impossible to figure, I know I’m preaching to the choir

SS- I have different opinion

Bae- late May, the second service time ends

Peguero-May of 2024 Service time again
IMO, they handled Peggy miserably
He rakes to the break, 2nd half, they start throwing him on second then back and forth when he’s not nearly polished at his position
Same time they had him shorten his swing to cut down on K’s and their goes the power, they slowed is process, he’s 21, keep it simple

Cheng-May of 2025
IMO, he won’t be in GBO lomg
and Peggy-Cheng move up when Bae gets the call in May,

Endy Rodriguez- JUNE
Doesn’t matter what he does he will be kept in line with service time
Soon he will be the face and leader of this franchise, NOT Cruz

Quinn Priester-Before the break if they are competing
or
After the break if it’s 2022

Burrows- see above Priester

Gonzo- cup of coffee

Triolo-Before break if Cruz has a full tilt collapse on the routine plays
or Hayes back sends him on the shelf
Should be no after break, they need gloves

Gorski
Nunez
Sabol
I can’t comment because the thought of their exposer sickens me

Anthony

I’m definitely not in “the choir”.

skliesen

Bubba higher than Solomento? Is this based on you thinking he’s a better Pitcher, or does his hitting help tilt the scale in his favor?

NMR

No doubt.

James_Robert5

Stuff wise Bubba is right up there with Ortiz

AdministrativeSky236

Clearly Indy is going to be stacked, but this will be a huge year for the system to see if we have just that wave and kind of bare bones down the system after or if we are going to have several years of big talent infusions coming yet

MD78

Which is why we will lose our collective minds if GMBC goes out and gets some replacement level (or below) veteran(s) to fill in on the ML bench and play. He needs to let these guys play, learn and let the chips fall….no more Van Meter, Marishnick, Allen, Yoshi non sense.

leefieux

Hey! We both mentioned ‘the wave’! It must be important! 😎😎

leefieux

Nice to know that we can watch Indy games. Most of the guys that are part of the next wave are there. I hope all live up to their potential. I also hope that Santa brings me a Lamborghini for Christmas. 🤭🤭

leefieux

Nice to know that I got a downvoting nemesis in Loehr22 who REFUSES to tell me why he is downvoting me. This is like 4 pr 5 times now. I honestly don’t remember kicking his dog.

ravidesai1984

Maybe he prefers Ferrari to Lamborghini?

leefieux

Dang. I was gonna mention Ferrari, but I wanted the challenge of spelling Lamborghini.

zebug

That’s ballsy, I just go with Lambo

leefieux

I REALLY thought Andrew was gonna be a big thumper for us. But, all we got out of him were some great pics of his GF.

SBRO

I think there’s a decent chance Peguero starts at Altoona. Setting aside that he didn’t exactly master AA this year, the Indy infield (2B/SS/3B) looks like it has Gonzales, Nuñez (assuming he continues to play 3B a fair bit), Bae, Triolo and Marcano. You can’t even count on plugging them into the OF/DH barring a trade because Indy will have Swaggerty, Smith-Njigba, Gorski, Sabol – and Oliva’s not dead yet.

As Young Frankenstein once said, “nice grouping!”

On another note, I’m dreaming on that GBO rotation.

chuck_conner

Don’t quit on Oliva.

SBRO

I had him written off, and then he caught fire and he’s still at it in Mexico. That’s good enough for me.

Anthony

I don’t see how Bae is not on the 25-/26-man to start the year. He is way too important to this lineup; this kid has to play regularly.

SBRO

There’s what they should do and what they usually do. Given the state of both 2B and the OF, it would be an easy baseball decision to add him to the 26-man.

It would also be completely against the MO of this franchise to do so. They’ll wring out another year of service time from Bae by holding him down until May and possibly longer to get him clear of Super-2.

I’d love to be wrong on this, but the better Bae is, the MORE likely he is to start at Indy, not less. They held Oneil Cruz down until June 20 for reference.

Anthony

The numbers would suggest that Cruz held himself down; he wasn’t doing himself any favors.

SBRO

Fair enough, but let’s not pretend the plan wasn’t to keep Cruz down regardless of how he played at Indy. They circulated their cover story about working on his defense when they sent him down in spring training.

leefieux

I personally think that Nunez will rarely see the hot corner. Think Jose Osuna or Colin Moran. Actually, Moran is better than him. 1b/DH only,

b mcferren

didn´t realize both Yordany and Blanco are still 17 years old

also, how is Blanco an international recruit if he was born in Boston?

PirateRican21

He’s not the first one, nor last. But most are born here while their dad played here. Blanco and Tatis are just two examples.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

With or without Termarr, GREENSBORO BETTER STREAM GAMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

k1rainey

YES!!! The depth chart is back

k1rainey

It’s an old one I see. Do you have Connor Scott in AA and outside the top 10?

ArkyWags

Seems a little ambitious to send TJ to high A at 18 to start the season. I think he plays half the season at Bradenton, maybe a tad more.

Last edited 1 month ago by ArkyWags
chuck_conner

Some times it is better to throw a player into something hard than let them play with pitchers that don’t challenge them. I’m not saying Tj is better than A ball, just sayin you can’t treat every player like they’re the same.

James_Robert5

Sign him to a long-term deal (10 years or so) and start him in the majors before he turns 20

ArkyWags

I get it. Maybe he starts there, I dunno. For me, I’m a bit more…conservative in a guys first full minors season on his own. This organization may think the same. I think he’ll get to high A for sure in 23, but I’m not confident he starts there. And if he rakes, I bet the promotions come fairly quickly for him.

patrick_kelly

I don’t know about you, but I’m dying for a 21 y/o superstar to burst out like Soto, Tatis, or Acuna.

NMR

I promise you won’t be any less happy with a 22 or 23 yo superstar.

patrick_kelly

But why miss out on that additional year if the player proves capable? That could be the difference in a WS contender or not in that year.

ArkyWags

Because the most important thing is he gets to the majors first! Who cares if he’s ready, he got there first!

Y2JGQ2

its more of his best years you are losing due to free agency. as much as you’d love to get everyone here at the same time, it becomes an absolute budget nightmare when you have 8 people arbitration eligible at once. Does anyone know if any of our top prospects or youngsters in the majors
are handled by Scott Boras?

patrick_kelly

Ideally, if this kid looks like the next superstar, the team locks him up till he’s 35 like Tatis. You get the best of both worlds in that scenario.

ArkyWags

I think where he starts matters a lot. What if he bombs at high A because the assignment was really aggressive? What’s your next move then since they’ve clearly miscalculated where he should start?
As for the generational stuff? I love Termarr and he is one of my favorite Bucs prospects, but I’ve seen that term thrown around a bit too much for my liking.

James_Robert5

He’s like the pro boxer with 250 amateur fights

He’s not going to need 6 years to get ready for the MLB

Per PG

“ 2019 PG 14U PLAYER OF THE YEAR, ELITE LEVEL HITTER WITH BIG LH’D POWER, .380-19-131 WITH 105 STEALS, 132 WALKS IN 218 CAREER PG TOURNAMENT GAMES”

NMR

Yeah if there was ever a profile that could handle this much of an aggressive assignment it would seem to be Termarr’s.

jsdspud

I agree with you Wilber. The higher the level, the better control that opposing pitchers are going to have.

chuck_conner

My opinion exactly. When I was in my 20’s I use to go over my buddies house with a bunch of friends. We played Ping-Pong all night. I had played since I was 10 yrs old and competed in the service. I never lost a game against any of my friends. But, I did see my game kinda go down and a couple of my friends get better. I was never challenged and that hurt my game. Not a great analogy, but my experience.

skliesen

Fast track him! Pretty please with sugar on top.

Y2JGQ2

we need another 2nd baseman like we need a hole in the head. what exactly do you plan on doing with Castro, Gonzalez, Bae, and Johnson? If Castro is hitting .260 with 25 homeruns and playing average defense at 2nd, everyone else is tradebait

zebug

I’m taking the under on Castro at .260 & 25 HRs….and PLEASE let me be wrong.

Anthony

I like Castro as much as the next guy, but if Bae is NOT in CF, he needs to be starting at 2B. His on base skills and speed are way too complementary for this lineup.

One thing that advance stats, at least to my knowledge, do not measure is the consistent ability to put pressure on the defense (and pitcher) when in the batter’s box and on the bases.

Y2JGQ2

We have 3 legit options to start and be plus players at 2nd base. a little guy named Nick Gonzalez is on his way. If you’d rather trade Castro and keep Bae, that’s fine. We can trade Gonzalez too and finally get the pieces we NEED to be good.

skliesen

Did you miss the “once in a generation” comment? Castro very well could be a key complimentary player on a Pirates contender, but Johnson could be a MVP type player. That’s why I hope he’s fast tracked.

Y2JGQ2

I see nothing at all to make me believe that. What exactly is Johnson going to do, hit .350? He’s not going to hit 30 homeruns and i doubt he’s Roberto Alomar so what tools exactly are going to be “once in a generation” ??

chuck_conner

Joe Morgan with faster bat and better batting average.

Y2JGQ2

where exactly is he getting his power to be Joe Morgan, the dark dimension?

skliesen

It’s called bat speed

ArkyWags

So better than Joe Morgan? Who’s maybe in the top 2-3 2B ever? Yeah that didn’t escalate too quick.

ArkyWags

Once in a generation seems fairly rich. And that term get tossed around too much.

Y2JGQ2

was said about nick gonzalez, drafted just about in the same spot, 2 years earlier to play the same position

Cocktailsfor2

But when was the last time it was used regarding a Pirates prospect?

James_Robert5

Oneil Cruz
Bonds
Parker
Clemente
Probably one of those times

Y2JGQ2

Pedro alvarez, Kris Benson, Gerritt Cole, Andrew McCutchen,

Cocktailsfor2

None of them were described as “once in a generation.”

Y2JGQ2

Tyler Glasnow

Cocktailsfor2

Nope.

skliesen

I agree, but what it really says is he’s special.

James_Robert5

There are 9 spots in the batting order and usually about 6000 PAs / year, I’m sure that won’t be a problem

Last edited 1 month ago by James_Robert5

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