While the attention of prospect admirers is often caught up in the Minnesota Twins or the Chicago Cubs, it is the often-overlooked farm system of the Pittsburgh Pirates that led the way this week, possessing seven of the top 100 prospects in baseball, according to MLB.com.
The organization, which is coming off back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in decades, is led by pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow, who came in at 12th overall in this year’s list. More pitching followed him in Jameson Taillon (31) and Nick Kingham (74).
The Pirates also featured several prominent position players on this year’s rankings, which are annually put together by Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com, including Josh Bell (34), outfielder Austin Meadows (46), backstop Reese McGuire (64) and infielder Alen Hanson (92) – showcasing the balance the franchise has in both pitching and position prospects moving forward.
This team won 182 games over the last two years – and have the most Top 100 prospects in all of Major League Baseball.
Taillon, who is arguably the most recognized Pirates prospect, missed all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. However, the year prior, the right-hander posted a 3.73 earned run average and an 8.7 SO/9 clip the year prior, splitting the season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis. A September call-up for the 23-year-old is not out of the question in 2015.
Glasnow, who, as noted, is the Pirates’ top pitching prospect heading into 2015, is coming off a campaign in which he absolutely dominated High-A hitters, cruising to a 1.74 earned run average and 1.054 WHIP in 23 starts. He’ll likely begin the season with Altoona – and if he continues his rapid ascent, he can’t necessarily be ruled out of a potential late-season big league debut either.
On the other side of things, Meadows – who is heading into just his second full professional season after being drafted in June 2013, showed why the Pirates took a chance on him two years ago, posting a .322/.388/.486 clip in 38 games with Class-A Virgina last season. While he’s still got some ways to go before he joins Pittsburgh at the big league level, his 13 doubles and ability to get on base consistently make him attractive – even at just 19 years old.
Bell led all Pittsburgh position prospects mentioned on the list, and will begin 2015 as a first baseman – a drastic shift from the outfield, where he has spent most of his baseball career. This move came as an answer to the roadblocks facing him in the outfield – and will allow his bat – which tallied nine home runs and 60 RBI last season, a clearer path to the big leagues.
McGuire, who was also recently ranked as the seventh-best catching prospect in the game by MLB.com, was recently featured in a piece here at Rum Bunter, in which we looked back at his work during the 2014 season:
"Last year, with Class-A West Virginia, McGuire responded well, putting together a respectable season, throwing out 39 percent of would-be base-stealers, while batting .262/.307/.334 in a career-high 98 games."
With Russell Martin gone and options already present to hold down the spot until he’s ready, it’s highly probably that McGuire is the man behind the dish for the Pirates – although he still needs some seasoning (at least two years) in the Minors first.
Both Kingham and Hanson came in in the later portion of the list, but don’t count out either of these talents moving forward. The latter batted .280/.326/.442 with the team’s Double-A affiliate, swiping 25 bases, while adding 21 doubles and 11 home runs, as well. Kingham, meanwhile, was solid at the Triple-A level last year, keeping his earned run average in the mid-3.00s all year long. He could get a look as a bullpen option when September call-ups come late this season.