2018 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 20 Prospects: Number 18 Overall

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

With Spring Training underway, we have started to rank the Top 20 prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates system. Here is number 18 overall.

Over the years, the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system was considered one of the best farm systems in baseball.  However, after enjoying a period of playoff baseball, and in turn picking lower in the draft, they have seen their system fall toward the middle of the pack.  Still, rankings by scouting websites are not everything.  They have plenty of intriguing prospects who could break out just as much as a team with a top farm system.  With that being said, we have come up with our top 20 prospects for the 2018 season.  The articles will look at each player, starting at 20 and working toward one. So far we have looked at Clay Holmes at number 20 and Gage Hinsz at number 19.

Number 18 Prospect: Right-Handed Pitcher Travis MacGregor

The trend of right-handed pitching prospects to start the list continues, as they now make up the first three prospects on our list.  Travis MacGregor is the number 18 prospect on the top 20.  Out of the three so far, MacGregor is the youngest and was also the highest draft pick.  He has pitched in two minor league seasons so far in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.


The Pittsburgh Pirates invested a second round pick in MacGregor back in 2016.  He was considered a late riser leading up to the draft, and really was not expected to go until day two of the draft (rounds 3-10).  However, the Pittsburgh Pirates liked him enough to draft him in the second round on day one.  They were able to lure him from his University of Clemson commitment, and were able to save some of their draft pool.  The Bucs paid the Clemson recruit $900K which was about $50K less than his draft slot.

MacGregor started off in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization with their Gulf Coast affiliate.  The Florida native made nine appearances, all being starts, in his shortened 2016 season.  He had a very positive first taste of professional action.  He threw 31.2 innings across his nine starts posting a 3.13 ERA.  Furthermore, he struck out 19 hitters, walked 10, and saw opponents bat .248 off of him. He also posted a strong groundball percentage of 55.7 percent, which could explain why he had a lower strikeout total.


The Pittsburgh Pirates had MacGregor pitch exclusively at Short-Season A Bristol last season.  He did not have as much success, but also faced a somewhat different type of season.  Short-Season is exactly what it is named, the league starts late in the summer compared to pretty much every level of baseball.  This change in preparation may have had an effect on the righty.  Also, Short-Season is considered instructional league so he most likely was purely working on different things to improve his craft for the future.

The current 20-year-old made 12 starts last season and accumulated 41.1 innings, posting a 1-4 record with a 7.84 ERA, and his 5.31 xFIP was not much better.   He saw his strikeouts improve from 19 to 32 in just two more innings pitched.  However, he also doubled his walks in those innings, going from 10 to 20.  Furthermore, his groundball rate went down to 46.5 percent, which is not bad, but obviously not overly impressive.  Now, this could have been because he was working on specific types of pitches in specific situations, developing his secondary pitches late into counts, etc. This is something common with young pitchers in instructional leagues.  Hopefully, that was the case and it is not a sign of things to come.

Next: #19 Overall Prospect


This year MacGregor will get his first taste of full season professional ball.  He will be assigned to Low-A where he will play for the West Virginia Power.  MacGregor should be slotted in as the team’s ace and will likely be joined by other 2016 draft picks in Braeden Ogle and Max Kranick.  What can the Power expect to see from the 6’3” and 180 pounder?  He throws a power sinker that sits 93-94.  He also boasts a changeup that should be a plus pitch and a developing breaking ball.  According to MLB Pipeline, MacGregor stayed in Bradenton all offseason and trained.  This obviously should only help him going into the 2018 season.