Look at the Pittsburgh Pirates System With a Wide Lens


Gerrit Cole fires a 99 mph fastball for the Altoona Curve

It’s nice to see the Pittsburgh Pirates most talented young players in their system making Baseball America’s top twenty lists for their respective leagues.  For example, Pittsburgh Pirates power pitcher Gerrit Cole was named number three in the top 20 prospects from the Eastern League.  That’s cool.

But before us Pirates fans start puffing out our chests take off the zoom lens and go wide.

How do the Pirates most talented players rank among their peers from different leagues?  Baseball America does exactly this when it ranks all players within a specific classisfication.

We compared the top prospects lists with the Minor League All-Star Teams that Baseball America assembled recently.  Well, actually there wasn’t much comparing really.  Baseball America doesn’t feel that the Bucs top end talent  is really all that high end after all.

In order to select the All-Star team from Triple-A, Baseball America takes the best players in Triple-A by combining the International League and Pacific Coast Leagues to form one team.  The Indianapolis Indians made the championship in the IL.

But no Pittsbugh Pirates made the Triple-A team.

Baseball America takes the best players to form their All-Star team from Double-A by combining the Eastern, Southern and Texas Leagues.  The Altoona Curve play in the Eastern League.

But no Pittsburgh Pirates made the Double-A All-Star team.

Zack Wheeler (Mets) was named to the All-Star Team.  Wheeler was ranked number two on the Eastern League’s top 20.  Cole was number three, but failed to land on the All-Star team.

Baseball America takes the best players from High Class-A by combining the California, Carolina and Florida State Leagues.

No Pittsburgh Pirates made the High-A All-Star team.

Baseball America combined the Midwest and South Atlantic League to form their Low Class-A All-Star team.

Two Pittsburgh Pirates made the team.  Shortstop Alen Hanson and centerfielder Gregory Polanco.

A Short-Season team is made, but again no Pirates.

The Pirates did have Dilson Herrera from the GCL Pirates make the Rookie All-Star team.

Baseball America compiles their Minor League All-Star Team that takes the All-Star teams from all of the classifications and ranks them, regardless of level on the first and second team.

Again, no Pirates made it.

Some familar names did–Trevor Bauer, who was the third pick in the 2011 draft and a teammate of Gerrit Cole, was named to the First Team.  Dylan Bundy who was the fourth pick also made it.

The complete lists are here if you haven’t seen them.

It sorta sucked reading it.   But we also realize that these All-Star teams and prospect lists will break your heart.  So there are at least five higher ranked pitchers that performed better this season than Gerrit Cole in Double-A.  The same with the five ranked ahead of Jameson Taillon and Luis Heredia.

2013 is the year that the system will need to take a major step forward.  Will Starling Marte blossom into the talent he flashed during 2012?  Can Cole get to the big club?  Can Taillon pitch effectively when he reaches Triple-A?  Will Heredia dominate before he reaches his age twenty season?  Can Josh Bell make it back onto these lists?

And perhaps most importantly, will Hanson and Polanco continue to dominate when they face higher levels of competition.

The Buccos system has improved, but it’s also evident that there are big things expected in 2013.  The wide lens may fill up even more next year as the Pirates have two of the first fourteeen picks in the draft.

But the zoom will be squarely on Marte, Cole and Taillon for us.