Pittsburgh Pirates: Top 100 Composite Prospect Rankings

(Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images) /

The four major sites for prospect analysis have released their top rankings.  Using a point system, here is how the Pirates came out.

On Wednesday, Fangraphs released their top 100 prospects (and 32 more) with reports on all the players ranked.  This is after Baseball Prospectus released their top 101, and Baseball America and MLB Pipeline releasing their top 100.  Limiting each site to their first 100 and then assigning point values from 100 (number one prospect) to one (100th prospect) and then summing up those values for each player we get a composite ranking of the top prospects.

Collectively, there are 145 prospects ranked from these four major sites.  You can filter by team to get the top prospects for each club within the top 145:

The consensus top prospect is Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who hit a blistering .402/.449/.671 in Double-A before hitting .336/.414/.564 in Triple-A as a 19 year-old.  He’s going to impact the game with his bat for the years to come, and he’ll magically be good enough at third base come mid April.  The top pitching prospect is Forrest Whitley, who missed most of 2018 with a drug suspension and an injury, but he has a career 31.5 percent strikeout rate in the minor leagues.  He’ll join Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, and Collin McHugh this summer in the Houston rotation.  As for Whitley being the only pitcher in the top 10, Ben Lindbergh wrote a piece about the old saying “There’s no such thing as a pitching prospect.”

The Pirates have six prospects in the top 146, tied with the White Sox, Rangers, Cardinals, Reds, and the Angels (the Padres lead with 12, the Rays have 11, and the Braves round out the top three with 10).  In terms of points, the Pirates have 714, ranking 12th.  The top three are the Padres (1948), Braves (1758), and Rays (1598).

By amount in the top 145, the Yankees, Cubs, Giants (two) and Red Sox (one) are at the bottom, and the bottom three in terms of points are the Yankees (151), Cubs (51), and Red Sox (22).  The Giants are saved by Joey Bart ranking 30th, and they rank 23rd via points.  All three teams in the bottom of points have used prospects to add players in hopes of competing for World Series titles in the last couple seasons, with the Cubs and Red Sox winning two of the last three.  Though the Cubs could have missed their chance for a dynasty.

Back to the six prospects for the Pirates, here is how they rank:

Pittsburgh Pirates Top Prospects
Mitch Keller30423
Ke’Bryan Hayes23436
Travis Swaggerty7879
Oneil Cruz7681
Cole Tucker18122
Calvin Mitchell4138

Mitch Keller is the Pirates top prospect, with three of the four sites having him there.  The one that doesn’t (Fangraphs) has Ke’Bryan Hayes as the Pirates number one prospect.  A year after being higher on Hayes than the other publications, Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen have Hayes 20th.  On the other three sites (Baseball Prospectus, MLB, and Baseball America), Hayes averages a ranking of 50th.  The third baseman has a higher floor, but a lower ceiling, and there doesn’t seem to be much risk, just a question on if he’ll tap into power.  Keller is going to be ready this year and debut some time this summer, while Hayes looks to be ready for 2020.

While Hayes is an example of a player who has less risk, and probably more of a normal distribution, Oneil Cruz is a player with high risk and more likely a fat-tailed distribution.  He’ll either be a bust and not make it because of swing and miss issues or be a power hitter somewhere on the diamond.  In between them is 2018 first round pick Travis Swaggerty, who has a Brett Gardner type profile to him.  He’s going to need to tighten up the swing and miss he had in his 2018 professional debut season (25.3 percent strikeout rate), but it was his first taste of pro ball and a longer season than he is accustomed to.

Cole Tucker appears as the 83rd best prospect on Fangraphs list, and he’ll look to compete for the starting shortstop job at sometime in 2020.  Calvin Mitchell, a soon to be 20-year-old, was selected 50th overall in 2017, and hit .280/.344/.427 in 495 plate appearances for the West Virginia Power in 2018.  He’s already stuck at a corner outfield, so the bat will need to play.  He appears 97th on Baseball Prospectus’ list.

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