Updated Top 30 Prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates from Baseball America

Baseball America is in the process of updating their top 30 prospects lists for all 30 MLB teams. The National League Central teams were posted on Wednesday morning.

The Pittsburgh Pirates list is headlined by the catching duo at Indianapolis. Endy Rodriguez holds the top spot still in the system. BA had him first back in late February when they released their preseason top 30 lists. He’s hitting .246//332/.386 in 44 games this year.

There was a change in the second/third spots. Henry Davis is now the second ranked prospect in the system. He flipped spots with Bradenton infielder Termarr Johnson.

With Davis dominating in Altoona, followed by a promotion to Indianapolis, Johnson has slipped slightly in their rankings. He missed time early, then got off to a slow start with a bad looking combo of a lot of strikeouts and a lot of errors. He had a nice stretch in May, but June has not gone well so far.

Johnson is hitting .230/.394/.349 in 38 games. His .743 OPS is still 43 points above league average in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. He just turned 19 last week.

Luis Ortiz remained in the fourth spot. While I think this ranking was a bit too high then and too high now, he’s four outs away from no longer having prospect status. He will be off the list soon, and everyone else will move up.

Speaking of moving up, Jared Jones now ranks fifth in the system. They had him 11th coming into the season. Jones has received some outstanding reports this year, plus he’s pitching well in Altoona, where he gets the start today.

Quinn Priester and Bubba Chandler moved back one spot each to the sixth/seventh spots, making room in the top five for Jones.

I won’t go through the entire top 30 one-by-one. You can check the link for that. I will point out some interesting movers.

BA really knocked Mike Burrows, who is out due to Tommy John surgery. He was ninth on the previous list, then dropped to 21st in the mid-season update. He moved back 13 spots technically, since Ji-hwan Bae graduated from the list earlier this season. That’s quite a drop considering how good he looked before the injury this year.

BA also has Hunter Barco ahead of Burrows, ranking him 17th, despite also being out due to Tommy John surgery, with no pro experience to his credit. Barco is just one year younger than Burrows, who was on the doorstep of the majors before his injury.

They moved up Kyle Nicolas from 14th to 12th. He’s repeating Altoona, where he was putting up better stats last year.

Greensboro infielder Tsung-Che Cheng is now 13th on the list. I didn’t note him in the last article, so I’m not sure where he was listed, but I did mention everyone in the top 19 spots. He made a jump of at least seven spots. He has a 1.014 OPS through 50 games.

Braxton Ashcraft popped onto the list after returning strong from missing part of 2021 and all of 2022 due to Tommy John surgery. He has a 2.51 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 28.2 innings this year, split between Bradenton and Greensboro.

They added Jun-Seok Shim in the 18th spot to the preseason list, then kept him there for the update. He absolutely dominated in his first pro outing last week, throwing four perfect innings. 

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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