Pittsburgh Pirates place five on Baseball Prospectus Top 101


The Pittsburgh Pirates have won 182 games over the course of the past two seasons – making the postseason in both years – and they’ve managed to do this without sacrificing the depth of talent in its minor league system. The latest proof of just how many potential impact pieces the team has? The fact that Pittsburgh ranked five prospects in Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 ranking that was released last week.

The group was highlighted by right-handers Tyler Glasnow (21) and Jameson Taillon (26), followed by outfielder Josh Bell (58), catcher Reese McGuire (59) and righty Nick Kingham (67). The fact that the team’s top talents featured a mix of pitching and position players is promising – and one that should bode well for the team moving forward.

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Tallinn missed the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last April. He was initially expected to break camp in 2014 with the big league club – but that injury changed things dramatically for the right-hander. In the midst of his rehab assignment, Taillon is expected to be seeing game action by mid-May if all goes well. He recently spoke to MLB.com about his recovery and the season ahead – and we recapped some of the highlights here.

Glasnow, a former fifth-round pick of the Pirates, put together an awe-inspiring 2014 season with High-A Bradenton, compiling a 1.74 earned run average – much in-line with his career minor league ERA of 1.94. Over the course of three seasons in professional baseball, the 21-year-old has averaged a dozen strikeouts per nine, while also compiling 274 innings of work. The upcoming season will be his first test as he likely opens the year at the Double-A level and, if he can keep up his rapid ascent, he may end the season with Triple-A Indianapolis.

Kingham, the lowest-ranked member of the organization on this list, was a fourth-round pick of the Pirates back in 2010 and has been steady and consistent during his professional career to this point. In 2014, the 6’5″ right-hander went 6-11 between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, but was solid by most other measures: he had a 3.34 earned run average, 1.214 WHIP and averaged 6.7 strikeouts per nine.

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While not a strikeout arm like Glasnow, he has shown himself capable of doing his job every five days – and could very well be a solid reliever or back-end starter for Pittsburgh in years to come.

Bell, who is regarded by most outlets as the team’s top position player in the system, spent last season split between High and Double-A – and did not miss a beat, batting .325/.375/.459 across 108 games. He hit nine home runs and drove in 60 runs – and if he can continue that type of production with Altoona this season, he will likely reach Triple-A by midseason.

Last, but certainly not least, McGuire, who has shown up on other prospect lists this offseason (as we talked about here) spent 2014 with Class-A West Virginia. In his first full professional season since being drafted in the first round by Pittsburgh in 2013, McGuire batted .262/.307/.334 with 45 RBI. His bat isn’t nearly as refined as some would like, but he’s a solid presence behind that plate – who at just 19 years old, will no-doubt mature in the years to come.

If back-to-back National League Wild Card berths weren’t enough to excited Buc Nation, one thing is for sure. There’s plenty more talent coming down the pipeline and the Pirates should be ready to contend for years to come.

Next: ZiPS projections give fans plenty to love in 2015