Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Assessing Outfield Depth

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Over the last few years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have had many of their young, talked about prospects make the big leagues.  This has been exciting to see, as many of them have worked out.  However, what is left in the minor leagues?

One thing that has remained constant over Neal Huntington’s tenure as Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager is an emphasis on having a strong farm system.  The two strongest areas that Huntington built up early on was the starting pitching depth and the outfield depth.  Very little was spent on bringing in legitimate prospects at the infield position.  This philosophy has seemed to pay off.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have the six most wins in baseball since 2012, and the farm has continued to rank as one of the best in baseball.

With that being said, there has seemed to be a flip in where the value lies in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.  This is the first article of several that will take a look at the current Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system.  The articles will go position by position, looking at what prospects remain, and if there are needs to be addressed going forward.


At the end of the 2013 season, MLB Pipeline had four of the Pittsburgh Pirates top ten prospects listed as outfielders.  However, those numbers have regressed since then.  The four players were Gregory Polanco, Austin Meadows, Josh Bell, and Barrett Barnes.  Polanco and Bell have graduated, with Bell moving positions.  Meanwhile, Barnes has fallen in the rankings due to his inability to stay healthy.  Meadows is the only one remaining, and he is less than one year away from graduating himself.

Present Situation

Entering the 2017 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates do not have one pure outfield prospect rated in MLB Pipeline’s top 25 outside of Austin Meadows.  This is mainly because the Pittsburgh Pirates have shied away from drafting and acquiring high-ceiling outfield prospect because of their current group.  By the start of the 2018 season, Austin Meadows will likely be replacing Andrew McCutchen in the big league lineup.  This will give the Pittsburgh Pirates an outfield core of Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, and Austin Meadows.  The three of them combined will have an average age of 26 years of age.  With so much youth, and Meadows set to replace the oldest of the current group, the Pirates have been able to focus in other areas.

Here is a list of the current outfield prospects in the minors.  The list will be broken into three parts including Top Prospects, Potential MLB Prospects, and Project Prospects.  Top Prospects are what they are, the players that one should expect to make an impact at the MLB level.  Potential MLB Prospects will be represented by players who should make the MLB, but may not be more than a plug-in player or bench hitter.  Project Prospects will have prospects who have interesting tools and could raise their value down the road.  The prospects are placed into categories based on a formula that shows how efficient they have been as a hitter in their minor league careers so far.

Top Prospects

Austin Meadows

Potential MLB Players

Jordan Luplow

Jose Osuna (OF/1b)

Barrett Barnes

Kevin Krause (C/OF)

Logan Hill

Project Prospects

Victor Fernandez

Eddy Vizcaino

Michael Suchy

Edison Lantigua

Overall Outfield Depth Grade: C+

More from Rum Bunter

As one can see, there is not a whole lot of depth here. Over the last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates have moved some of their better outfield prospects.  The main two that were traded are Harold Ramirez and Tito Polo. Both prospects were represented on Top 30 lists before being dealt.  Meanwhile, they also designated Willy Garcia for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.  The Chicago White Sox picked him off waivers from the Bucs.   There is no guarantee that any of those prospects will ever do anything in the major leagues.  However, the more prospect depth in one area, the better chances that a few of those prospects will work out.

Where to go From Here

Ultimately, the Pittsburgh Pirates once had a pipeline of depth at the outfield position in the minors.  Now that they have had such a solid outfield over the last five years or so, they have focused on improving other areas of the farm.  With that being said, the Pittsburgh Pirates should build up their outfield prospect depth one more.  Starling Marte is under contract for four more years, with the last two being club option years.

Next: 2017 Draft Pick Spots

As Pittsburgh Pirates fans saw all off-season, they are not afraid to dangle players whose contracts are expiring.  Not to mention, players who are past 30 and will start regressing.  The best route would be to draft a prep outfielder with one of their four picks in the top 72 of this year’s draft.  Furthermore, development of a prep player would match up with Marte’s current contract in terms of the prospects “time of arrival.”

*Also, all rankings are based on MLB Pipeline