Three Pirates Make Top 100 Prospects List for ESPN; Three Others Receive Honorable Mentions

Kiley McDaniel from ESPN released his list of the top 100 prospects on Wednesday morning. The Pittsburgh Pirates only have three players on that list, though another group of three players all received honorable mentions.

We start at the top with 2022 first round pick Termarr Johnson, who is ranked 24th on this list. He has been listed as the top prospect for the Pirates now on four of the five lists released so far. Johnson was recently ranked by MLB Pipeline as the best second base prospect in baseball, and the 26th best prospect overall. He was also ranked 31st overall by Baseball Prospectus and 49th overall by Baseball America. The Athletic had him higher than anyone else, placing him 18th on their list earlier this week.

Endy Rodriguez ranks second in the Pirates system, and he’s 42nd overall in baseball according to McDaniel. He was ranked 23rd by BA, who had him as the top prospect in the system. Baseball Prospectus had him in the same spot as MLB Pipeline, placing him 55th overall. The Athletic had him ranked 34th, which was third for the Pirates.

Henry Davis is the final player who made the top 100 for ESPN, ranking 68th on the list. So far, Davis, Rodriguez and Johnson are the only Pirates to make all five lists released. Quinn Priester has made two lists, while Luis Ortiz and Bubba Chandler each made one. Davis ranked 30th for The Athletic, 57th by Pipeline, 73rd by BA and 46th by Prospectus.

McDaniel also rated players by Future Value. Johnson received a 55 FV grade, while Rodriguez and Davis each received 50 grade. That 50 grade is a huge group, because he listed a group of players after the top 100, who also received 50 FV grades. That group included Priester, Liover Peguero and Ji-hwan Bae. This is the first time Bae has been mentioned on one of these lists, while Peguero got a mention on BA’s extended list.

We are just waiting on the Fangraphs list before we post a combined list of the top Pirates prospects, along with their average ranking. That will be posted shortly after the article covering the Fangraphs list.


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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Seems unanimous, we taken a step backwards in the eyes of the “experts” this off-season with our farm system having top prospects. Development still an issue it seems.


Agree overall, especially relative to the Cardinals and others, but devils advocate thought… if you take out the 1st round college hitters, does it look like a solid year? Maybe those ‘safer’ picks aren’t really that safe… I.e., without Davis/Nick G, the Bucs had:

– Cruz and Contreras successfully transition to the MLB
– Endy breakout, in a big way
– Luis Ortiz jump from A- to MLB and look like a future rotation guy in 2022
– Priester reduce his reliance on the out of style curveball and look like a legit future MLB starter (he may not be a world beater, but mid-rotation starters don’t grow on trees)
– Burrows with a very successful AA campaign his first time through
– Bubba on track for top 100
– Bae start showing a little slugging and looking like a legit MLB player, even if only bench
– Tucupita’s bat back on track in MiLB
– Dariel Lopez with 20 HRs
– Triolo adjusted to AA pitching
– Termarr acquitting himself well in A- a few weeks after being drafted


Keith Law said that we have depth, but no needle movers.


Starling Marte was not considered a top prospect during his minor league days. How did that work out?
The Pirates have a negative aura which talking heads seem to take at face value.


Think Bae is gonna be like Marte. Not a lot of fanfare gonna be a stud.


The prospect lists may have been late on Marte, but he was a no doubt top 100 prospect mid-way through / after his AA season. He also had a plus arm, plus speed and power potential, so profiled as a legit CF / strong LF in PNC with upside at the plate. Bae has plus plus speed but a below average arm and little power, so hard to see an impact defender or hitter… but could still be a very valuable and fun player.


Amen, great comment.

And that “lateness” is really just a difference in prospect ideology between then and now. It used to take more than just tools to be highly ranked.

A guy like Liover Peguero has no louder tools or higher upside than Marte did at similar ages, but these days kids get shoved up lists for that alone before they’ve hit a lick.

When Marte was a prospect you had to actually produce.


Anyone have ESPN+ and willing to share any interesting notes in the scouting reports?

Love Kiley and would love to hear his thoughts but ESPN can suck a fat one for wanting $10 a month.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I’ll have to get back to you later. I only so far just went through to update my list with rankings.


A few highlights for me:

On Elly De La Cruz:

If you liked my joyful scouting report for 13th-ranked Oneil Cruz on last winter’s list, you’re going to love De La Cruz, because everyone I’ve talked to about Elly has mentioned Cruz as they are the only players anyone can think of who are even close to similar.

On Termarr:

Type: One of the best amateur hitters in recent memory, with Jose Ramirez or Rafael Devers vibes…Johnson, like many of the hitters at the top of this list, has plus bat speed, pitch selection, raw power and in-game power. He can do almost anything at the plate.

On Endy (the highest ranked in the 50 tier):

The hit tool is still the headliner here as his raw power is only average, but getting a solid catcher who can hit .270 with 15 homers is in the range of Danny Jansen (who posted 2.6 WAR last season in 72 games for the Blue Jays), which is basically the 10th best catcher in baseball.

On Davis:

Type: Big power, fine contact, unclear position…Scouts are still concerned that he isn’t quite nimble enough behind the plate and his arm strength plays down due to execution, though a robot ump future would help…we can’t fully judge him on his 2022 surface stats, but he has been a bit below expectations thus far.


Thank you, but some serious doubts about Davis behind the plate. I wonder how his pop times compare with Hedges, Heineman, Delay, and Rodriguez? That stat is a combination of footwork, arm strength, and arm accuracy.

Sort of saying the Pirates have done very little to improve his defensive package.


Regarding Bae, his projections for 23 on FG seem strange.

For example, last year he got into 10 games, had 3 SB, & received a 1.0 for his baserunning value. There’s 7 different projections listed on his FG page, and only 1 of the 7 has him producing even a 1.0 again, with that 1 projection being a 1.3, & the lowest being a .5 projection. I get that 10 games is a small sample size, but it’s pretty apparent that the baserunning aspect of his game is one of his strong suits.

On the flip side, Bae had a slightly negative value defensively, at -1.6, whereas all of his projections have him with a positive defensive value in 23, with a range of .1 to 1.7. Not sure how they can make an accurate defensive projection from the small sample size & the multiple positions he played.


based on the games I watched, he is average at best defensively, his throws to 1b on two DP I watched barely got there and on two throws from Center were way off base (to home) no idea if his reads were good though. His stolen bases were legit, but on the other hand his overall base running was poor, twice he didn’t score from 2b on hits and one was a Cruz line drive double that one bounce off the RF wall. I’ve always been the low guy on Bae, so maybe I just looked for faults.


For those of you (us) that can’t get enough top prospects list here is one I like,


Just saw where MLBTR is doing an interview with Chad Hermanson. It noted that, at one point, he was the #13 prospect in baseball. He could ‘walk on water’ as Woody Huyke said. He just couldn’t hit the curve! (Talking to you, Nicky G).

Just goes to show…..until they prove it in the majors, they’re still just ‘prospects’.


Making me wonder if the Pirates may double down on TJ by including Nick in a trade package this year? If Bae/Castro hit and field well enough at 2B/UT, NG becomes unnecessary – all 3 are heading into their age 24 seasons, and Bae/Castro are already playing at the MLB level.

Peguero just turned 22 and I can see the Pirates trying to play him more at 2B in 2023 at AAA, especially if Oneil Cruz shows improvement in the field in 2023.


Nick birthday is like June 1st. If it was July 1st this woukd be his 23 year old season.


Is that how they determine age-year? Always wondered.


Chad was the first prospect that I can remember breaking my heart. Living in Pittsburgh I only really thought of the Pirates. Was oblivious to the minors. Oh Chad, you have lead me to doubt Bucco’s farm hands for 20+ years.


Chad needed Jobu in the worst way……

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

If you have a BA subscription, I highly recommend listening to their Pirates Top 10 podcast. They talk about Nicky G at length.


The podcast seriously annoyed me. When you talk about Gonzalez, you have to talk about the fact he still takes walks. He had a .385 OBP. It was like the highest on the team outside of Endy.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I don’t think anyone has questioned Nicky G’s eye at the plate and discipline. The questions surround his ability to make contact. And if contact is an issue, that OBP is likely to suffer as he climbs even more when he’s facing better stuff from pitchers that are better at attacking his flaws, and going right at him as opposed to trying to paint the corners. If he struggles hitting an up 90 MPH fastball, what’s he going to do against a guy throwing 98 gas up in the zone?

Think of it like Hudson Head and Sammy Siani, who both carried OBP’s north of 360 in FSL during 2021 season, but had swing and miss issues. Both moved up to Greensboro in 2022 and struggled against better stuff. Siani more than Head, but both saw declines in BB% and OBP.

Conversely, this is why I’m not that worried about Tank moving forward, cause I’ve seen him handle guys throwing upper 90’s at the top of the zone.


I go to curve games. Nick has no trouble w fastballs

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I’ve watched a lot more of his ABs, going back to his time in Greensboro, than just one September Altoona game highlight video. He does.


He walks but he also strikes out a lot. And the way he strikes out (whiffing on high heat) matters. He’s got walks and some pop but not much else. And the higher he goes level wise, the whiffs may be too much.


Interesting take on pitchers, not hitters, being the strength of the org. I think I would agree.

Scam likely

Been saying this for a while, lots plus arm through org. Both prospects or fringe not many minor invites to spring training says a lot.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I like that they also touched on what we’ve been hammering on for a while, especially with all these lists coming out, that it isn’t that the farm isn’t “good”. There’s depth, and this year particularly is important to see if they’ve truly seen a breakthrough in their revamped development system. Otherwise is just a group of interesting, but not exciting, prospects.


The prospects we graduated last year included a potential superstar shortstop. A potential average second baseman. Two potential corner outfielders, and a potential #2 starter.


All potential, right? None of them lit the world on fire like say…Strider or Harris. They may still, but they haven’t yet.


So, exactly what they said.

Turn potential into reality and the narrative will change.


That definitely stood out to me, too.

Basically the industry now values upside and projection to the point that a system like the Pirate’s gets ranked highly off nothing but a large number of high risk dudes, but will begin dropping if they can’t actually turn those dudes into legit prospects.

Polar opposite of the beginning of Huntington’s tenure, crazy how fast that changed.


Also pretty much exactly what we’ve been saying about NickyG.


What did they say? Summary, pls


The line that really caught my ear was something to the effect of if you watch him for a game he can look like an all star but if you watch him long enough, you start to really notice his struggles.

This is basically what got Jeff Reed to start tracking weekly top prospects expected to face Pirate affiliates. We were both noticing that NG basically never hit against any decent arms, and started to track it to be sure.



Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

He struggles with high fastballs, even with his quick bat. To the point he’s whiffing on 89-91 FBs up in the zone (I specifically remember seeing this in G-Bo against pitchers like Jared Shuster), and then whiffing on sliders breaking out of the zone.

They said they still have high hopes for him. That a lot of scouts (ones with strong track records) really liked him in college, and still like him. But that his ceiling might not be as high as some had originally suspected.



Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Yup. I told Murphy that they basically hit the nail on the head of what we’ve been saying.

b mcferren

sounds like he is blaming a lot on Lloyd


If it was only Lloyd then a team that he moved to should have been able to fix the issue by talking to him and asking what he did different that gave him success in AAA.


Hadn’t realized he had 5 years on the Farm; it felt like he was rushed up…Maybe not.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I feel like Kiley almost waited for every other list to come out so he could Leroy Jenkins with a bunch of unique picks, and blow up PPI (not that I think it’d really have any implications)


Nice to finally see Bae make a list, even as an .HM.


I agree. I really hope he does well this year. Would be cool to have him helping my fantasy team with SB’s and runs. Maybe even average. Besides Bednar and Reynolds not many of the Buccos are rostered in my league. And it’s all dudes from the Pittsburgh area. I will revisit this in August.


Quite the parity in these rankings. 50FV lands you anywhere from 42 to beyond the top 100.

You might have 70 prospects in the 50FV rankings…. I don’t have a sub, just speculating.

Last edited 1 month ago by Catch_22

You’re a baseball god and your infinite wisdom will last forever!


A 50 is an average major league player. If each team has 180 prospects in their system, then there are roughly 5,400 minor league players in affiliated baseball. If would stand to reason that 70 prospects could be rated as a 50.

Kiley and Eric (Fangraphs) wrote a book on their grading system. Eric is an especially tough grader and seems to be right a lot more than he is wrong.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Here was an interesting thread on publications “hit rate”.


So basically FG and Pipe line are the same, hard to believe….


FG had about that many last year. I’m not sure how many outlets put FV on their lists. BP may use something else or maybe just a different term.


Yeah this increasingly seems like a cop out. “We have no effin clue, make him a 50.”


“And you get a 50, and you get a 50…”

In what universe does Bae and Endy have the same Future Value? Comes across as lazy


Endy had a great 5 months to finish out 2022. Bae has produced for longer and at higher levels. Remember Matt Frazier and his 2021 season?

I like Endy and want him to do well.


Endy was the league MVP in 2021, so let’s say two seasons. Also let’s admit that Bae has never dominated the way Endy has.

Last edited 1 month ago by PirateRican21

I should’ve emphasized Future Value…

I don’t see any scenario where Bae has the same FV as Endy.


Eh, I don’t know man.

Bae “produced” the 6th best hitting performance in AAA last year. No, not 6th in the league. On his own team. Slightly worse than powerhouse Tucupita Marcano. Endy was also one of the best hitters in A-ball last year, so nothing close to only a five month heater.

Seems like there oughtta be SOME differentiation between the two.


It feels like the 50 category has always been huge with these grading systems. In 2018, when Kiley was with FG, they had 23 guys rated a 60 or higher, 19 at a 55, and a whopping 97 guys at a 50. A year later, they had 18 60’s or higher, 27 at 55, and 87 at 50.

So maybe the 50 is just a weird spot for ratings. A guy like Bae gets it because he’s made it through the minefield of the minors and looks like a contributor at the MLB level. While a guy like Endy looks like he’s got a good chance to be a solid regular at 23 or 24. Even if they do have the same rating, they’re still 60-odd spots ahead on the list.


For what it’s worth, BP seemed to speak to that parity in their prospect podcasts. They believe that this top 100 overall is not nearly as good in recent years because guys at the top aren’t as good. So maybe the effect is that squishes everyone else to the middle.
Feels like the Bucs should talk to Arizona or Baltimore about development. Yeesh.

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