The calendar year might have just turned over, but where could the the Pittsburgh Pirates be by the end of 2021?
It may have just turned 2021, but it’s never too early to look ahead at the future, especially if you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The long term future of the Bucs looks pretty bright, but they have to take it year by year.
Last offseason the Pittsburgh Pirates started their rebuild and it’s continuing into 2021. So far, they’ve traded Josh Bell, and you should expect more trades this offseason. This should give the farm system another big boost.
With the Pittsburgh Pirates finishing the 2020 season with a record of 19-41, they received the number one overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. With this pick they will likely select a pitcher. Kumar Rocker will be the likely pick, but Jack Leiter and Jaden Hill two other very talented college right handers.
Throughout the year, the Pittsburgh Pirates should see the arrival of some of their top prospects. Currently, their best prospect that has an ETA of 2021 on FanGraphs is Oneil Cruz. The middle infielder has elite power potential with a 60 future game power and 80 raw power grade. Plus he isn’t a bad runner and can field his position of shortstop.
Their best pitching prospect with an ETA of 2021 is Cody Bolton. Bolton pitched extremely well at High-A Bradenton, but struggled when he was promoted to Double-A. He’ll likely start the year out at Altoona, but if he pitches anything like he did at Bradenton, he will be in the majors very soon.
It will also be exciting to watch some of the young players who already debuted for the Bucs hopefully make a name for themselves. Bryan Reynolds had a fantastic 2019 rookie season, but followed that up with a weak 2020 season. Ke’Bryan Hayes will look to continue ripping the cover off the ball after an outstanding late season showing in 2020. Mitch Keller is seeking some form of normality in 2021 after two very strange years in the majors to start his career. Colin Moran started to find his power stroke in 2020. Both Nick Mears and Blake Cederlind could cement themselves as fixtures of the bullpen long term.
Pirate fans need to look forward to the future. There’s currently a lot of talent in the minor league system to watch develop in 2021. 2020 first-round pick Nick Gonzales absolutely demolished the ball in college and looks to provide a middle of the order bat in the future. He also isn’t slow and can field second base to an average extent at the very least.
Tahnaj Thomas has some electric stuff, but has yet to put it on full display with the new regime. 2019 first round picks Quinn Priester and Brennan Malone also are looking to become some of the Pirates’ best prospects. Liover Peguero and Travis Swaggerty are both very athletic players who are looking to prove their hitting can keep up with their defensive ability and running ability.
Looking at where they could be by the end of 2021, the Pittsburgh Pirates could be in a really good place. Many of their best prospects, like the aforementioned Cruz, Swaggerty, Malone, Priester, Gonzales, or Peguero have yet to show what they can do with the new regime in charge. None of them played a professional game with no minor league season, but all have high amounts of talent and potential. Not to mention that they’ll add at least one top 100 prospect between now and the end of the year with the draft. They could also see guys like Reynolds, Hayes, Keller and Moran show they can be long term pieces with the club. The team will have a similar focus in 2021 to what they had in 2020.
Their goal is to secure a high draft pick while also slowly introducing young players to the majors so they’ll be acquainted with the major leagues by the time their back in competition, sometime between 2022 and 2024. While, overall, the MLB team may not be too exciting, it will be fun to watch young players come up during the year and watch the prospects develop.