Pittsburgh Pirates Top Prospects: Number Five Ke’Bryan Hayes

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

With the minor league season days away from starting, we continue to release our top 20 Pittsburgh Pirates prospect list.  Here is number six, a third baseman:

Over the last few years, the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system has been considered one of the best 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 pitchers Clay Holmes at number 20, Gage Hinsz at number 19, Travis MacGregor at 18, and left-handed starter Braeden Ogle at 17.  The first hitter to show up on our countdown was Calvin Mitchell at number 16 and Oneil Cruz at number 15.  Coming in at number 14 was 2017 draft pick Steven Jennings. Then was is a pair of international prospect in right-hander Luis Escobar at number 13 overall and outfielder Lolo Sanchez at number 12.  Right-handed starter and 2010 draftee Nick Kingham came in at number 11.  Hard-throwing left-hander Taylor Hearn came in at number 10 and former first-round pick Kevin Newman at number nine.  Switch hitting outfielder Bryan Reynolds and left-handed hitting middle infielder Kevin Kramer occupied the eight and seven spots respectively.  Number six was third baseman Colin Moran, and number five is a third baseman as well.

Number Five

The Pirates drafted Ke’Bryan Hayes in 2015 in between their selections of collegiate infielders Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer.  Hayes has produced solid, yet spectacular minor league numbers.

The 21-year-old third baseman has hit .281/.353/.369 across 231 minor league games and 991 plate appearances.  His 16.0% strikeout rate demonstrates he has good bat to ball skills, like so many other prospects on this list, and he has walked at a rate of 8.7 percent.

He’s dealt with some injuries in the past, a back and rib injury in 2016, so he’s missed some development time.  The biggest thing for Hayes offensively moving forward is getting the power up, posting just a 0.086 isolated power last season.

I’ve wrote in the past about how weird it was for Fangraphs to rank Hayes so highly, and in it I wrote about how the 6’1″ and 210 pound third baseman could increase his power.  Him getting out of the pitcher friendly Florida State League should add more power, but going with the approach that Kevin Kramer went with last season could really allow Hayes to develop into a more elite prospect.

With the glove Hayes is solid, and can be really a plus over there.  Fangraphs gave a 55/60 for current and future value with fielding and a 60/60 on the arm.  MLB Pipeline gives out a 60 on the field and arm as well.  That combination of defense and hitting, Hayes also stole 27 bags on 32 attempts last season, makes him one of the more intriguing and high ceiling prospects in the system.

Next: No. 6 Prospect - Colin Moran

2018 Season

Hayes isn’t on Bradenton’s roster to start the season, signaling he’ll be with Double-A Altoona as he begins his quick ascent up the Pirates organizational latter.  With this quick rise, Hayes has a shot to be in the majors in 2019, his age 22 season, and save injury he should be up in 2020.

The biggest thing for Hayes will be the power potential, as he has the tools to really become an elite prospect this year or next.  Add power to that profile and Hayes could can be a real impact player for a long time in Pittsburgh.

*Numbers from Fangraphs