A lot of the more casual baseball fans don’t usually pay attention to the minor league systems and mostly only pay attention to prospects when the TV announcers start talking about them arriving soon. For Pirates fans, we have used our minor league system for years as a hope and dream the team will one day contend for the playoffs. Now that the Pirates have accomplished that and seem poised to do it again, the focus for most casual Pirates fans will turn away from the minor leagues and focus solely on the big league team.
Many times throughout the season, I’ll be posting up updates on the hot prospects as well as the future top prospects and even the ones who are disappointing. Most Pirates fans know about Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon so I won’t be covering them in this article but let’s take a look at some other guys who might help the team in 2015.
5th Round Pick – 2011
Glasnow is the next “big” arm guy behind Jameson Taillon. With the potential of a Gerrit Cole, Taillon, Glasnow top 3 pitching in Pittsburgh, the future looks amazing. Glasnow was dominate last season going 9-3 with 111.1 IP, 61BB and 164K’s in West Virginia. Glasnow will most likely start out in Altoona and could end up in Indianapolis before the season is over. If all goes well, Glasnow could be in Pittsburgh by mid-season 2015.
Signed Out of the Dominican Republic
Hanson became a huge prospect in 2012 along with Gregory Polanco showing superior skills at the plate with the only question remaining about his ability to stick at Shortstop. Hanson hit .309/.381/.909 that season with 33 Doubles, 13 Triples and 16 Homeruns. After a bit of a slow start in 2013, Hanson picked up in High A+ hitting .281/.339/.783 before being promoted to AA Altoona and appearing in 35 games there. Hanson will need to continue to show he can stay at SS while improving his bat against better pitching and continue to do so again after he gets promoted to AAA Indy. If all goes well, Hanson could be with the big league club towards the middle to end of 2015 with a 2016 call up as just as likely.
4th Round Pick – 2010
Kingham is another “BIG” guy prospect who seemed to come on quite strong as a solid #3-4 type in the big leagues. Last season, Kingham went a combined 9-6 with a 2.89 ERA, 143.1 IP, 44 BB and 144 K’s. Like Glasnow, Kingham could continue to develop and raise his stock quickly or is generally looked at as a blue chip trade piece for the team if they needed to add to the big league team without giving up Glasnow. If the Pirates keep Kingham, he could arrive in late 2015.
2nd Round Pick – 2011
Most Pirates fans will know the name Josh Bell because of the $5M signing bonus they gave to the kid out of high school who sent letters to all 30 major league teams and told them not to sign him because he was committed to going to college. However, money talks and Bell joined the Pirates with the high hopes that he would reach the majors and be a force because of his potential five tools and switch-hitting capabilities. It hasn’t been a smooth ride for Bell as he was injured and lost some time due to the injury. However, Bell’s prospect is rising once again and is a candidate for Breakout Player of 2014. Last season, Bell hit .279/.353/.806 in West Virginia and should reach AA Altoona this season. If he does breakout, he could reach Indy by the end of this season or the middle of next season while arriving in Pittsburgh in 2016. The Pirates are looking to convert Bell to 1st base potentially with the team’s outfield looking to be set for many years to come. Bell could also be looked at 3rd base as a potential heir apparent to Pedro Alvarez.
2nd Round Pick – 2010
Stetson Allie was drafted by the Pirates as a hard-throwing pitcher out of high school. However, Allie could never quite seem to find his control and was converted to a 3rd baseman, potentially moving to 1st base this season. Allie has once again raised himself to prospect status and could also be a candidate for Breakout Player of 2014. He has already been promoted to AA Altoona to start the season which is an aggressive push for the kid who hit only .229/.342/.697 in High A Bradenton. It’s time to start advancing Allie though and see if he can put it all together with a decent average but a ton of power. Last season between West Virginia and Bradenton, Allie hit 34 Doubles and 21 Homeruns with 86 RBI’s in 132 games. If this guy can start hitting for a higher average, we could be excited to see Allie come to Pittsburgh in mid-season 2016.
The future is very bright for the Pirates and there are many more prospects that I will be taking a look at throughout the season but the guys above are the biggest and closest to reaching the major leagues.