Pittsburgh Pirates Top Prospects: Number Three Shane Baz

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

The Pittsburgh Pirates minor league season is in week number two.  Over the last month or so, Rum Bunter has released the top 20 prospects in the organization. Here is number three.

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 a pair of international prospects 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 Ke’Bryan Hayes.  Cole Tucker continued the trend of infield prospects inside the top 10.  The number three is a pitcher who is relatively new to the system.

Number Three Overall

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Shane Baz with the 12th overall pick in last years draft.  Baz became the first pitcher the Pirates drafted and signed in the first round since the club took Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick in 2011.

The 6’3″ and 190 pound right-hander fits the Pittsburgh Pirates mold with a big athletic frame, and at the time of the draft he threw mid 90s.  He checks all of the boxes.  Baz was originally committed to Texas Christian University, but a $4.1 million signing bonus, about $100,000 over slot, was enough to change the now 18-year-old’s mind.

Last season after the draft, Baz reported to the GCL Pirates, where he started 10 games.  While in rookie ball, Baz posted a 3.80 ERA, struck out 18.1 percent of hitters. Furthermore, he got a groundball on 48.3 percent of batted balls.  The main problem with the performance was the walk rate, 13.3 percent, but his young age and the nerves after being drafted could play a part in that.

Next: How Are The Newer Prospects Doing?

2018 Season

Shane Baz was held back in extended spring training, as the ultra conservative Pirates will look to limit his load this year as he transitions to his first full season of professional ball.  As long as Baz doesn’t have any injury setbacks, he will finish the season in Low-A.

Baz possesses a good mix of pitches, as Fangraphs gives four pitches with future grades of 50 or better, all positive signs for the youth.  Despite not having a real shot at the majors until 2021 or 2022, Shane Baz is definitely the pitcher to watch this year given what the Pirates invested in him last season, and because of the ceiling that he possesses.