The Pittsburgh Pirates only had three players ranked on MLB Pipeline’s 2020 top 100 Prospect list. Who will be the team’s next top 100 prospect?
Over this past weekend, the team at MLB Pipeline continued to release their 2020 prospect analysis by releasing their updated top 100 prospect list. The Pittsburgh Pirates found three of their prospects rated on the list, which was in the bottom half of the MLB teams. This should not come as a surprise as the team only had two players ranked as top 10 prospects at their respected positions by MLB Pipeline.
The team’s top-ranked prospect is Mitch Keller coming in at number 39 overall. Keller was a consensus top 25 prospect heading into 2019 but posted some rough numbers in his limited big-league innings last year. The next prospect on the list is Ke’Bryan Hayes at number 41 overall. This is the highest Hayes has ever been ranked on MLB Pipeline. The last prospect ranked is infielder Oneil Cruz who comes in at number 64 overall. Cruz is a name that has been rising up prospect boards the last few years and has a chance to crack the top 50 by the end of the 2020 season.
The Tampa Bay Rays have the most top 100 prospects on the list at six, and multiple teams are ahead of the Bucs with five and four top prospects as well. This is obviously not a good thing being the Bucs are a small market team that needs to build through the minor league system. Hopefully, the new regime can acquire some talent that will make this list down the road.
With that being said, who in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system has a chance to be a top 100 prospect going forward? The first prospect that comes to mind is Travis Swaggerty. The former number 10 overall pick was ranked as the number 87 prospect in baseball last year. However, he had a mediocre year batting just .265 at High-A Bradenton. If he rebounds in 2020 he probably could push his way back onto the list.
Another outfield prospect in Cal Mitchell is quietly rising in the Bucs system. The 20-year-old saw his average dip from .280 to .251 from 2018 to 2019, but his home runs went from 10 to 15. Mitchell has some of the best projectable power in the system if he can figure out how to get his average back up in the upper .280s things will be trending upward for him once again.
The last prospect who could make the top 100 list this season is Quinn Priester. Priester was the highest-drafted prep pitcher in the 2019 MLB Draft. The team took him at number 18 overall out of a high school in Illinois. Many scouts and reporters considered this to be a steal for the Bucs at that point in the draft.
Priester did not disappoint in his professional début last year pitching to a 3.19 ERA in nine games and 36.2 innings pitched. He struck out over one batter per inning, sitting down a total of 41 hitters while only walking 14. Priester throws a mid 90s fastball that reaches as high as 97, a plus changeup, and a plus breaking pitch. Combine his pitches with his 6’3” frame and projection and it makes sense why he already ranks as a top five prospect in the system.