The Pittsburgh Pirates farm system has been a topic of discussion this offseason. Here is what a former baseball executive thinks of the team’s farm system.
It is that time of the year when prospect sites start to release their top 100 prospects entering the 2020 season. This is always interesting for fans of the small market Pittsburgh Pirates. Experts from Baseball America and MLB Pipeline always do a fantastic job with putting together these lists, but there are also top 100’s released by other outlets as well. This includes a former MLB front office member.
The most recent list to be released came from former Blue Jays’ Special Assistant to the General Manager Keith Law, who worked for the Blue Jays from 2002-2006. He then resigned and joined ESPN as a baseball writer focusing on scouting. After spending the better part of the last decade working for ESPN, Law transitioned to writing for The Athletic, where he is focusing on prospect-related information.
This, of course, means that Law posted his annual top 100 prospect list for the upcoming season. Law is often very critical of specific prospects who rank high on other lists and finds prospects who are often overlooked to put on his list. This was the case again this year. MLB Pipeline only ranked three prospects from the Pittsburgh Pirates on their top 100 list. Law seems to be relatively high on the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system, placing five prospects inside his top 100 list including:
46: Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3rd Baseman
71: Mitch Keller, Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
79: Oneil Cruz, Shortstop
84: Travis Swaggerty, Outfield/CF
100: Quinn Priester, Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
The top three prospects have been the constants on top 100 lists. Keller is a little lower on Law’s list than others, but it is hard to fault that after seeing the righty struggle most of last season. Swaggerty is one who has been on top 100s in the past but took a step back last season after just batting just .265 at High-A in 2019. However, he did bounce back batting around .320 in July and August, showing why he was the team’s first-round pick in 2018. Priester was the top prep pitcher taken off the board during the 2019 draft and pitched to a solid 3.19 ERA in nine games.
Other than Keller, all four players have yet to make an impact at the Major League level. In fact, all of them are at very different points in their career. Ke’Bryan Hayes will likely start the year in Triple-A and should get a call up at some point this year. Meanwhile, Oneil Cruz will likely head back to Double-A with Swaggerty joining him. It is hard to say if Priester will get an aggressive push to full-season Low-A, but if not he will be placed at Short-Season A. If anything, it is good to see the Bucs have some top-end talent at multiple levels.