FanGraphs all offseason has been releasing their top prospect lists for each team. Today, the Pittsburgh Pirates list was released.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are a rebuilding club, and one in which needs to acquire as many talented players as possible. As a small market team, the organization needs to consistently have depth in the minor leagues and access to players that will provide a consistent cycle of players that graduate to the Major League level. Both depth and high quality is needed.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Ben Cherington appear to be building just that. The club placed eight prospects on FanGraphs top 130 list (all players graded as a 50 future value) just last week. That gives the Pirates a good foundation to build off of with Brennan Malone ranking ninth as a 45+ and just missing out on being a 50. With a good spring, the right-handed pitcher acquired for Starling Marte could see himself rise on to the top 100 rankings given his fastball and slider combination. Middle infielder Ji-Hwan Bae ranks 10th and is a contact and speed first middle infielder, though he has off the field concerns with a domestic violence charge. Overall, the Pirates top 10 is as follows:
"Ke’Bryan HayesQuinn PriesterNick GonzalesTahnaj ThomasOneil CruzLiover PegueroMiguel YajureTravis SwaggertyBrennan MaloneJi-Hwan Bae"
Other interesting notes are that in Rodolfo Nolasco’s ranking, Eric Longenhagen wrote “Many of the international prospects Pittsburgh has signed over the last two years have become of interest to opposing teams.” Junior Vizcaino was hired before the 2018 season and appears to be doing a good job in finding and signing talent, including a mix of more higher end signings such as Shalin Polanco in this years class.
Right-handed Austin Roberts ranks 33rd, a 2019 eight round pick. It is mentioned that he is now a fastball/curveball pitcher over sinker but shows a plus changeup. He’s a name to watch for in 2021. Jase Bowen is listed as a second baseman. The former Michigan State football recruit signed for well above slot and is another intriguing player to watch. He was drafted originally as an outfielder, so keep an eye on his defensive usage this season.
The Pirates system is continuing to grow and some of the players acquired in trade are ranked in the top 100 and have their arrows pointing up. Even with Ke’Bryan Hayes graduating in 2021, the Pirates will have opportunities to add to the farm system with high picks in 2021 and likely 2022. This is a big year for the player development staff.