It is that time of the year again! MLB Pipeline is starting to put out their top prospect lists, which includes their positional rankings. The Pittsburgh Pirates will have plenty of prospects from their minor league clubs making appearances on these lists.
So far, the Pittsburgh Pirates have had Tyler Glasnow rated as the number two overall right-handed pitcher, Mitch Keller received a honorable mention, and Josh Bell rated as the number two overall first base prospect. The Pittsburgh Pirates had no prospects on the top ten catcher or second baseman lists. They did, however, find one of their third base prospects ranked on the Top 10 third baseman list. This list was released on Tuesday, January 24th.
Ke’Bryan Hayes is entering his second full season as part of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Hayes, who was ranked sixth entering 2016, is now ranked number nine. Here is the full list of the top 10 third base prospects from MLB Pipeline:
Rafael Devers, BOS
Nick Senzel, CIN
Vladimir Guerrero Jr, TOR
Christian Arroyo, SF
Jeimer Candelario, CHC
Matt Chapman, OAK
Miguel Andujar, NYY
Austin Riley, ATL
Ke’Bryan Hayes, PIT
Hunter Dozier, KC
This is mostly because Hayes struggled to stay on the field in 2016. The Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 draft pick battled injured ribs most of the season. Hayes played full-time at third base with the Low-A West Virginia Power. This was an aggressive push for the former 31st overall pick. With that being said, Hayes handled the jump in competition relatively well, obviously when he was able to play. Hayes competed in 65 games for the Power. In those games, he posted a slash line of .263/.319/.393. Although those numbers are average, keep in mind that Hayes was playing against competition that was an average of 2.5 years older than him.
As mentioned earlier, Hayes had some health issues during his first full season. Heading into June, Hayes had a strong batting average that was around .300, a .133 ISO, 109 WRc+, a .332 wOBA, and a strikeout rate of 17 percent. However, one can see a significant drop off in his offensive numbers around the 11th of June. His batting average quickly sank below .270.
The next week Hayes missed about five games. He came back to action, but only to see himself continue to struggle as he entered July. Finally, it was reported that Hayes was suffering from a nagging back injury. Hayes missed over a month and returned for two games in late August. He quickly was shut down again, and diagnosed with a broken rib in his back. From the 11th of June on, Hayes posted a slash line of .246/.306/.368. Furthermore, he posted a .123 ISO, .312 wOBA, and his strikeout rate went over 20%.
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It is safe to say that Hayes tried to play through this injury, and so his numbers suffered because of it. Also, this not only would affect the physical part of the game, but also the mental part. Imagine trying to swing a bat full force with a broken bone in your back, and not hesitating on pitches either.
With all that being said, MLB Pipeline is still high on him. They acknowledge that he was plagued by injuries last season, and he still has a high ceiling. Here is what they expect from Hayes going forward:
"“He held his own in the first half until what was thought to be a back injury forced him to miss most of the second half. It turned out to be a rib fracture, which is not expected to cause any long-term problems.The son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes, Ke’Bryan has the chance to be an outstanding all-around third baseman at the big league level. He has a contact-first approach right now, content to use all fields and send line drives into the gaps. There were inconsistent glimpses of power and there should be more as he learns to turn on pitches more. A below-average runner, Hayes nonetheless has the footwork and range, not to mention excellent hands, instincts and a plus arm to be an above-average defender at the hot corner.Hayes missed some development time in 2016, logging 252 at-bats. Assuming he can stay healthy, he should be able to re-find his approach at the plate and start moving up the organizational ladder. “"
Ke’Bryan Hayes will rank somewhere from 6-10 in the Pittsburgh Pirates system. The soon to be 20 year old, was considered one of the fastest risers as the 2015 draft approach. He will likely start the season at High-A Bradenton. However, due to his lack of at-bats at Low-A, Hayes will probably spend a majority of the season at High-A. Still, he is ahead of most players his age at this point. Ke’Bryan Hayes is a few years away from playing at PNC Park, but he projects to develop into an impact third baseman.
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Also, all number from Fangraphs