Pittsburgh Pirates: MLB Pipeline 2017 Best Tools Prospect List

Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

Recently, MLB Pipeline put out their biannual Top 100 Prospect List.  The Pittsburgh Pirates had five prospects on that list. MLB Pipeline also rates the best tools in the minors.

With MLB Pipeline putting out their Top 100 Prospect list, many fans were happy to see so many Pittsburgh Pirates prospects ranked so high on it.  However, there is even more to look at from MLB Pipeline.  Following the release of the preseason Top 100 list, MLB Pipeline also put out their best tools list.  This list looks at the top 100 prospects and lists who rates the best for each of the primary tools on offense, defense, and the mound.  The Pittsburgh Pirates had a few players get honorable mentions for having some of the best individual tools in the minors, but also one prospect rated the best in his category.

“Pure Hitter”

The first tool that MLB Pipeline talked about was the best “Pure Hitter” on the list.  Obviously, this nod went to the number one rated hitting prospect in the game, Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi.  However, the Pittsburgh Pirates also had a prospect get an honorable mention.  First thought would be that it is Josh Bell or Austin Meadows, but it is neither of them.

Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 first round pick Kevin Newman received an honorable mention as being one of the best pure hitters in the minors. Newman, who hit a robust .320 between High-A and Double-A, has a hit rating of 60 on the 20-80 scale.  Some scouts believe that his ceiling could be a 75 rating once he enters his prime years.  The main thing that makes him such a good hitter, is his ability to make consistent contact, use all fields, and in general does not swing and miss a whole lot.

“Best Fastball”

The second Pittsburgh Pirate player to be mentioned was Tyler Glasnow.  He received honorable mentions on two lists.  The first list was the “Best Fastball”.  The top of this list was headed by White Sox prospect Michael Kopech, who routinely hits the upper 90s in his starts.  Glasnow also does this, but has not been officially clocked in the hundreds like Kopech has been.  Glasnow’s fastball rates as a 70 on the 20-80 scale.  Last year in his big league debut, we saw Glasnow sitting more in the 92-94 range.  Many attributed this to the big righty trying to be too fine with his pitches.  Now that he has big league experience, the Pirates should see an uptick in his velocity.

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“Best Curveball”

The other list Glasnow found himself ranked on was the “Best Curveball” list.  Once again, Glasnow did not rank the highest on the list but received an honorable mention.  Glasnow’s curve rates as a 60 on the 20-80 scale.  Many fans were impressed by this pitch last year, and it is definitely viewed as a solid out pitch.  If he can learn to command it better, it could be a very reliable compliment to his dynamite fastball.

“Best Control”

The last Pittsburgh Pirates prospect to be rated, received the honor of having the best control out of all the pitchers on the Top 100.  Mitch Keller beat out 41 other pitchers to claim this honor.  This mainly comes from his ridiculous strikeout to walk ratio last season.  In 2016, Keller struck out 138 batters while only walking 19, and this feat was accomplished in 130.1 innings pitched.  On top of those impressive stats, Keller did not walk more than two batters in any of his appearances last season.  Keller currently ranks only a 60 for his control on the 20-80 scale.  One thing to keep in mind, is that for his age, Keller has shown impeccable control.  At just 20 years of age, many scouts expect his control rating to continue to climb as he continues to climb the minor league ranks.

Next: Pirates Top 100 Prospects

Missing Out, Maybe Not

Surprisingly, stud hitting prospects Josh Bell and Austin Meadows were not given any honors.  Now, these lists were only given to six prospects per category.  Players like Meadows and Bell are considered elite because they have plus tools all across the board, but may not have that one tool that stands out.  Regardless, both are obviously viewed as high-end prospects with Meadows ranked at ten and Bell at 27.  In fact, one could look at this as a good thing.  Beyond the obvious big three, it is good to see players like Keller and Newman, who rank in that second tier of prospects, receive recognition for their skills.  If they can continue to perfect their standout tools, and build on their secondary tools, the Bucs could have more elite talent on the way.