Over the last few days, MLB Pipeline has started to release their top 10 prospect lists. The Pittsburgh Pirates saw themselves earn a top ten right-handed pitching prospect. What about left-handed pitching prospects and catching prospects?
The Pittsburgh Pirates at one point had one of the best farm systems in baseball. After graduating numerous prospects over the last few years they have seen their farm system start to decline in the rankings. However, they still have some of the best talents in baseball. MLB Pipeline has begun to release their top 10 prospect lists by position. So far Mitch Keller has landed on the top 10 right-handed pitching list at number six overall.
So what Pittsburgh Pirates prospects landed on the top 10 left-handed pitchers and catching prospects list? None to be exact. If you follow the Bucco’s farm system at all, then one knows that these are just about the two worst positions of depth in the current farm system. This is mainly because the Pirates have not invested any first day draft picks in left-handed pitching or catching since 2013. The last top catching prospect they drafted was Reese McGuire, who essentially is a bust. The last left-handed pitcher they drafted in the top two rounds was Nick Lodolo in 2016, who they were not able to agree to terms with.
Left-Handed Pitching Prospect
So who is the top lefty pitching prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system at this point? Although they have not drafted many, they do have one of the fast rising lefty pitchers in the game in Taylor Hearn. Hearn was acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2016 when the Bucs dealt Mark Melancon to the Washington Nationals. MLB Pipeline has predicted Hearn to be the breakout prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system this year. He has a fastball that can consistently sit in the upper 90s along with a plus slider. He will be ticketed for Double-A Altoona this season, and if he proves to be more consistent as a starter, he could find himself on the list down the road. Another name to watch would be Braeden Ogle, a 2016 fourth round pick.
As far as catching prospects go, the cupboard is really bare. Currently on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates, they do not have a catcher rated. So who are the catchers that could eventually crack the list? The Pittsburgh Pirates invested back to back picks on catchers in last year’s draft. With their fourth round pick they took Vanderbilt catcher Jason Delay. Then in the fifth round they drafted catcher Deon Stafford from St. Joseph’s. Delay had a lackluster start to his professional career, batting just .228/.345/.301. Meanwhile, Stafford had a very strong showing in his first taste of professional ball, batting .280/.332/.418 in 45 games. When he was drafted he was viewed as an average defensive catcher, but had a potential upside bat.
In general, the Pittsburgh Pirates rarely invest in left-handed pitching prospects or catchers. However, in the 2018 draft with multiple first round picks, they could look to pick up a legitimate catching prospect. It will be interesting to see if any of their left-handed pitching or catching prospects rise and earn spots on the midseason updates of these lists.