It is prospect season across various websites, with only about a month left until Spring Training. What do the Pittsburgh Pirates rankings look like?
As a small market team, the Pittsburgh Pirates need to have a good prospect development pipeline to fill in holes on their team. Over the years, the organization has seen a decline in their farm ranking and needs to build it back up. Ben Cherington has added some top prospects in both trades (Starling Marte trade), the 2020 MLB Draft, and through international free agency.
Baseball America, a top prospect publication, has released their top 100 prospects for the 2021 season today. The Pittsburgh Pirates see two players in the top 50 and four players overall in the top 100. The following are the four Pirates in Baseball America’s top 100.
The website has Ke’Bryan Hayes at number 15. The third baseman is given a 60 hit, 50 power, and 70 glove. After coming up in September last season and hitting .376/.442/.682 with five home runs while playing good defense, it makes sense that he would be a top 20 prospect in the game. Hayes looks to be the next face of the franchise for the Pittsburgh Pirates and has firmly cemented himself as a top 20 prospect in baseball.
Oneil Cruz ranks 50th on the list, receiving a 50 hit, 70 power, 60 run and 50 fielding. The shortstop has some of the most potential in the system but is being investigated for a car accident this winter. On the field, Cruz has high risk and the organization continues to run him out at short over moving him to an outfield spot. He probably has the highest ceiling in the system and could be a star shortstop if he remains at the spot.
Ben Cherington’s first draft pick for the Pirates, Nick Gonzales, ranks 51st. Despite playing second base mostly at New Mexico State, the Pirates announced him as a shortstop. As one of the better hitters in the 2020 draft, Gonzales has a 70 hit, 45 power, 55 run, and 50 fielding. Given the advanced hit tool, the Pirates should be aggressive with their first round pick.
The last prospect in Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list is former General Manager Neal Huntington’s last first rounder, Quinn Priester. The right-handed pitcher ranks 58th and was a big riser after his performances in Altoona and then instructs in Florida. Priester has a 60 fastball and 60 curveball to go along with a 55 control. While the last regime struggled to get the most out of their pitchers, it seems the new front office is more player centric. Priester represents one of the best arms in baseball and one who is rising and is not a top 75 prospect in the sport.
Overall, the Pirates have four prospects in the top 100 on Baseball America, and more specifically four prospects in the top 75. In 2019, the Pirates only had three top 100 prospects to start the season and last year they only had three as well. The system looks to be improving compared to the last couple years.