Four Pirates are Among the Top 100 Prospects for Baseball America

Baseball America released their 2023 updated list of the top 100 prospects in baseball on Wednesday morning. A total of four Pittsburgh Pirates made the list, though it might not be the exact four you would expect.

Endy Rodriguez is the highest rated Pirates player on the list, ranking 23rd overall. He wasn’t even a top 100 prospect for most sources over a majority of last season. Greensboro is a hitter-friendly park, so there are some reasons not to fully trust numbers from there, especially power numbers. However, Rodriguez improved his hitting as he moved up, with outstanding results at Double-A Altoona, as well as a nice small sample size of major success in Triple-A Indianapolis.

Rodriguez was added to the Pirates 40-man roster over the off-season, and should make his big league debut some time during the middle of the season. His limited upper level time (37 games above High-A) might be all that is holding him back, though being in Indianapolis will give him a chance to catch full-time. He might still play some other spots just to get his bat in the lineup on off-days.

Termarr Johnson ranks second on their list among Pirates players, slotting in at the 49th spot. He was the first round pick of the Pirates last year, selected fourth overall. His overall numbers in his brief playing time after signing were mediocre, but he looked good in his time with Low-A Bradenton. He’s also going to still be 18 years old when the 2023 season opens. His bat has a chance to be elite, with multiple mentions in scouting reports that gave him comps to Wade Boggs, one of the greatest pure hitters in my lifetime.

Henry Davis ranks in at 73rd, which is a drop in his rankings, but his inability to stay healthy hasn’t helped his prospect case. He also played hurt last year and saw his stats suffer during that time. He finished strong by putting up an .875 OPS in the Arizona Fall League, along with a strong strikeout rate. A healthy season would push him back up the charts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start in Altoona until Rodriguez moves up to Pittsburgh.

The fourth player on the list is Luis Ortiz ranked right behind Davis in the 74th spot. BA left off Quinn Priester, Mike Burrows and Liover Peguero from their list, all players with legitimate mid/late top 100 cases.

Ortiz is a very late bloomer, putting up inconsistent results for much of 2022, before putting things together in early August at Altoona. That resulted in him pitching briefly in Indianapolis (one outstanding start, one poor start), and then in Pittsburgh, where he looked great in three starts, until an implosion in his last start added six earned runs in 0.2 innings to his totals. He had a 5.21 ERA as a full-time starter in Double-A through August 8th, so the fact that he even made it to the majors last year is an impressive feat, and speaks well of his turn around.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Y2JGQ2

So Nick Gonzales is in the toilet then……

skliesen

First and foremost, prospect rankings are very subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Second, this unfortunately is a reflection on the Pirates preference for high floor/low ceiling picks (Swaggerty, QP, Nick G, Davis) over higher risk 1st round selections. Plus, injuries to Davis and Nick G have held them back.

And lastly, continued development of prospects is far more important to success than any prospect rankings at a given point in time.

ArkyWags

I don’t think all of those guys are necessarily high floor/low ceiling guys. In fact, I’d wager it’s mostly the opposite. Swaggerty was seen as a project of a first round pick with big tools. Nicky is tougher to peg because I think we would have known more about his prospect profile if it hadn’t been for a COVId draft year. But he profiled as a potential impact bat.
Priester, I’m not sure I’d ever call a high floor guy because he’s a prep arm. Those seem to be the opposite. Davis, it feels too early to tell, but he may fit that high floor profile.
Maybe these guys feel high floor because they’ve been developed that way. A better development team may have been able to get Swag to get to more power or to have Priester’s fastball not play as so hittable.

tmcgowan

Just wait until Jared Triolo turns into Tommy Edman in 2 years 🙂 Everyone will go back and say – where did he come from – why wasn’t he on any top 100 lists.

1979andCounting

My comment is heresy on a board named “Pirates Prospects”, but I could really care less about prospect ratings or overall farm ratings. As a fan I don’t want to win the Farm ratings, I want to win MLB games, and that’s it.

MB21

Albert Pujols was drafted in the 13th round of the draft in 1999. He hit .324/.389/565 in 395 AB in low A and went 3-14 in AAA in 2000 (And just 35 K by the way). His highest rating on any prospect list before winning a job on the 2001 Cardinals was #38 . The rest is history!

Can anyone else say that prospect lists are just a roll of the dice? Then there are guys like Brien Taylor, Joe Borchard or others – high on the prospect lists but by injuries or performance just didn’t work out.

This is why prospects are not the only way to build a team. You just never know. Fun, though…

Y2JGQ2

#38 is pretty F’ing high considering he didn’t really have a chance to play in the high minors. Likely one year later it would have been a top #10

Cobra

Casey stern from mlbradio has a good quote: prospects are cool, parades are cooler

john.benedict

Lists and grades are bogus, some dart throws in the dark, wonder if any listers and graders have seen them play, Endy Rod won a batting title and carried bradenton to a championship at 21. Because he had only had 4 career HR’s when he was traded the 15 he hit in his first full pro season
flew under the radar, had he been drafted or signed at age 20 and done that it wouldn’t have taken a high A climb to the BIGS which he called back in March but wasn’t rewarded. they missed because no one saw him play and lead…I take zero away from lists and grades
Unlike them i watched him for two years and he is organizatiion changer
write that down,

Y2JGQ2

said in regards to a sport which is literally all about scouting……

Danatural08

Tim didn’t pound the table hard enough to get more in the Top 100

AttyMike

That’s it? After the years of tanking we got 4?

jaygray007

i mean, one of those years of tanking is still yet to be factored into farm rankings – this year’s upcoming #1 .

i have really little issue with what the cherington drafts have yielded. Termarr, Davis, and Gonzales are all reasonable enough prospects.

the bigger issue is the tanking trades. as a whole, the yield from those deals are largely “busts” or “guys who already are in the majors”. that second category is not a problem, but it contributes to why there are only 4 guys on the list now.

i’ll be kind and call the musgrove deal a wash. We’ll call Endy and Bednar “enough”. It’s not, but we’ll say it is.

i’ll be kind and call the jamo deal a wash. We’ll call Roansy and Njigba “enough”.

The Bell and Marte deals shouldve produced a lot more than they have, whether it be guys who are currently in mlb or guys who are currently highly regarded prospects. Peguero and Yean being what Peguero and Yean shouldve been would have gone a long way in this “Top 100” anxiety.

Last edited 16 days ago by jaygray007
Y2JGQ2

You aren’t being kind. Those are wins, not washes. Musgrove would already be gone if we didn’t trade him and we’d have nothing. Instead we have a good closer and a top #50 catching prospect. Roansy had and has way more upside than Jamo and is arguably already better

jaygray007

my post was giving them the benefit of the doubt on those two deals

AttyMike

I agree. Cherington’s trades have not panned out.

john.benedict

Bell- BC had too many hot toddies on xmas eve
Marte- 80 game suspension, never learned English, he’s now on his 5th team in 3 years–PEGGY age 19 traded and lost year, age 20 solid year at GBO gets added to 40, age 21 locked out, Altoona,
then BIGS, all good right? Pirates in June ” 2nd half cut down your K’s, also expect to see time at 2nd so your not blocked” move a kid who hasn’t figured out his primary position during the worst slump of his career trying to fix K rate while his OPS falls faster than Choi’s and Joe”s the second half, maybe not that bad
Musgrove was hideous as pirate. he started his stint on the DL and ended on the DL, in between just alot of gopher balls
Right now BC wouldn’t trade ENDY straight up for Musky

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

What’s funny about saying Musgrove was “hideous” as a Pirate, is that his FIP across 2 seasons in San Diego is essentially identical to his time in Pittsburgh. 3.69 FIP in 3 seasons with the Pirates (1 of those the shortened season) and then 3.64 FIP in 2 seasons with the Padres. While also giving up 44 HRs across 362.1 IP with Pads, and 38 in 325.1 IP with Pirates.

john.benedict

No this is whats funny
FIP—Example- If the pitcher has surrendered a high average on balls in play, his FIP will likely be lower than his ERA
Balls in play are not part of the FIP equation because a pitcher is believed to have limited control over their outcome
So what your saying, one picher could dominate another pitcher stastically but if they both give up alot of hR’s
their FIP’s will be close

Below is the Musky will traded for

Aug/Sept 2017
G-23
INN-31
H-22
R-5
HR-2
K-31
BB-5
WHIP-0.87
ERA-1.45

World Champion

who helped Houston win a/ or steal a WS

1979andCounting

Isn’t FIP one of, if not the most, meaningless pitcher stats though? But clearly Musgrove was not “hideous” as a Pirate.

john.benedict

FIP

I’m yanking the hideous tag off Musky and throwing it on MLB for creating the FIP

He’s pitched his best baseball for everyone but the Pirates, with being said can’t hold any pitcher responsible for anything prior to the new regime
Taillion, Williams, Nova, Kuhl, Kingham
Musky missed the first two months as a Pirate instead of helping lead the rotation, they were forced to watch Kingham fail miserably

Next stat will be QUIT made for football
(Quarterback Independant Throwing)
Based on TD, INT, and Batted down passes only
Balls thrown in the field of play do not count in the QUIP equation because a Trubinski is believed to have limited control over their outcome

Y2JGQ2

agreed, he was pretty damn decent

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Honestly, I went with it because it was the one readily split among teams on his BR page. His BB/9 is near identical. His K/9 is 1.0 higher with SD. bWAR likes his time with SDP much more than PIT, where fWAR liked his 2019 season with Pirates as much as 21 and 22 with Pads, otherwise fWAR identical with 3 seasons in Pit vs 2 in SD. Likely would’ve blown any other season out of water if there was a full 2020 season, as at the time he had his lowest career xERA, FIP, and xFIP. Only time his K% was above 30%.

Which, IIRC I think even Joe had previously stated that 2020 was THE year where he made his most steps forward that lead to him as the pitcher he is today.

1979andCounting

You’ve reminded me now that he changed his delivery to a short-arm motion, and that seemed to be when he started getting better results.

tmcgowan

If Brennan Malone ever throws more than 30 IP we may have felt different on the Marte deal….

steve_zielinski

BA has consistently given lower grades to Pirates prospects than their alternatives. Nothing to see here since BA tends to follow the hype train, moreso than most of the prospect evaluators, eg. Fangraphs, MLB Pipeline. I lack compelling evidence supporting my claim, but the proof is in the BA list when compared to the alternatives. We’ll know when the o t her lists appear.

steve_zielinski

Sounds good!

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

See, I think Pipeline rides their pre-draft perceptions and show favoritism to certain markets or their new development darling.

I’m personally not surprised by this list. It tracks with a lot of the recent farm articles that have been coming out, along with how I was saying in the Wilbur OF article the other day. About how we have a lot of intriguing prospects, but not so much many that have really outshined their reports.

Priester has pitched well, but hasn’t necessarily been dominant. Much in the way that Leiter fell off, cause he didn’t maintain the same pizazz he had leading up to the draft.

Wilbur Miller

Mayo had an article the other day where he polled MLB execs on teams’ farm systems and development. Lot of questions about best system, best drafting, best int’l work, best pitching development, best hitting development, and so on. He listed the top 4-5 on each question, plus “others” who got votes.

Bottom line . . . the Pirates were completely shut out except they were in the “others” for hoarding prospects the most, which is hardly a qualitative thing. So correctly or not, the Pirates’ MiL operations just aren’t well regarded around MLB, based on that poll. That’d be reflected in BA and MLB.com rankings, because they get their info from people around MLB.

There may be some lag time, where new guys take a while to get some recognition. The Pirates probably had a very bad rep due to Kyle Stark. So maybe their rep will improve over time. Or maybe folks around MLB just aren’t impressed for exactly the reason you cite — they just haven’t produced the upper end results that folks expect to see from a team that always drafts early and has totally punted three straight seasons,

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Yeah, that was one of the ones I was referring too. There was a BA article too, but it was more so superlatives of things like, “Who has the youngest Top 10” or “Who has the most drafted players in the Top 10″. Pirates were only mentioned for most trade imports” with Endy and Peggy.

The one thing I’ve been harping on the past couple days is I think this upcoming season will finally be the true test. Is Keller “fixed”? Will Cruz blossom? Was Suwinski’s 2022 a flash in the pan, or an actual identify/acquire/develop success story? Luis Ortiz?

As of now, Matt Fraizer popped and dropped, which was more reminiscent of the previous regime. Will Gorski do the same, or was his breakout true? Will Endy be a special prospect that translates to majors? Will Priester and Burrows translate, or will they become another name in the long line of pitchers who showed promise, only to finally hit their wall against better hitters? Best they have to go off of now is so far Ben’s #1 picks aren’t really living up to their hype, even if injuries have hampered them.

Wilbur Miller

That last point is probably a big one around MLB. All these early picks, and people are no doubt just thinking, Where’s the beef?

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Meanwhile I’m sitting here mad watching Edwin Arroyo and Connor Norby fly up lists, who were guys I really wanted.

We’ll see what happens, but the Orioles look to have perfected the draft lol

NMR

Couldn’t have said it better.

AttyMike

There’s some major league cope for you.

leefieux

‘Some major league cope’??

AttyMike

cope (plural copes) (slang) A coping mechanism or self-delusion one clings to in order to endure the hopelessness or despair of existence.

leefieux

I know what cope means. Your wording, however, was so awkward that I couldn’t cope with it. 🤣🤣🤣

AttyMike

Pay me more and I’ll write mo betta.

leefieux

Hey! You’re an attorney. If you can’t write gooder by now……😅😅😅

leefieux

Or maybe they KNOW how often our prospects fail and rate accordingly? Other than Cruz and maybe Keller (both still works in progress:, I think you’d have to go back to Cutch/Marte/Cole for successful Top 100 guys that made it. Since then…..

Y2JGQ2

Bell has been a very good ML hitter.

leefieux

Forgot about him. Thx.

mikeschalke

Can’t believe that Priester didn’t make the list.

leefieux

His ceiling is as a #3 SP. That’s not Top 100 material, maybe?

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I’d imagine he makes another list or 2, and that he’ll find his way back on to BA Top 100 within the first month of season when a handful graduate.

jaygray007

there are a lot of good prospects out there! I can’t imagine the list-makers think he’s that much worse of a prospect than, say, whoever they have ranked 80

leefieux

Once you get past 50, it is almost ‘flip a coin’ or ‘we love the new toy’ syndrome.

jaygray007

one thing that i dont like about top 100 lists is that the difference between the 80th best prospect in baseball and the 250th best prospect in baseball is probably not that big.

leefieux

You nailed it. And…take a look at any Top 100 (or Top 25/50) and look at the failure rate.

jaygray007

hopefully the 2nd half breakout for Nick Gonzales continues and he can get back on lists.

I’m sure the top pick this year will get in the top 30.

the main stream media doesnt want you to know that Jared Triolo is a top 100 prospect

there’s awfully little evidence since the pirates acquired him that Liover Peguero is any good. i’d love for that to change!

i feel like Davis’s slide is based on him getting hit by pitches and hurt, and i feel like that’s a little unfair. i mean i realize the AA stat line doesnt look pretty but 1) it’s pretty clearly BABIP-driven, and 2) even then, he still popped a 97 wrc+, hardly a kiss of death, and 3) clearly his health and the HBPs were an issue. Granted, it’s not like being ranked 70th is that big of an insult

bianco599

If Termarr hits anything like Wade Boggs I hope he grows a mustache like him. I will buy his jersey and shape myself a Doc Holliday. And tell people he is my friend. Termarr, not Doc.

leefieux

Will he also eat chicken before every game?

steve_zielinski

Or drink a case of beer on plane flights.

b mcferren

or play for the yankees

one of the worst sellouts in baseball history

bianco599

I do have chickens on my farm. Never been afraid to chug some beer. But I would never play for the Yankees. And I would tell my friend Termarr not to either.

SBRO

A little surprised that Priester fell off after a season in which he mostly held serve at AA as a 21 year-old. I know there’s concern about his fastball shape and how hittable it is as a result, but when you’re looking at the back half of the Top 100, who doesn’t have a flaw that could be exploited?

Not that it matters at all. Just unfortunate that we so easily revert to the duality of “on the list” vs. “not on the list.”

ArkyWags

I think the proper way to look at it is that the guys from like 75-200 are probably really close across the league. Maybe from 50-200.

leefieux

Great minds think alike AW.

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