Pittsburgh Pirates: How the Organization Built the Farm System

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Pittsburgh Pirates
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 29: Roansy Contreras #59 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes his Major League debut against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 29, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Traded For

Now while they acquired a ton of high-end prospects through the draft, they also got many through trades. Roansy Contreras, who currently ranks as the 49th best prospect in baseball, was acquired as one of the four pieces for Jameson Taillon. He won’t be the last player from that deal that is in the top 100. Contreras had a massive spike in velocity, as well as improved breaking stuff which saw his strikeout rate skyrocket. He’s always had a solid change-up and command. Contreras is now considered one of the Pirates’ best near future building blocks after his breakout in 2021.

The next top 100 prospect the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired through trade was Liover Peguero. Peguero posted a solid 108 wRC+ at High-A Greensboro in just his age-20 season. He was one of the youngest players in his division and despite getting almost no playing time above Rookie-Ball heading into 2021, the shortstop had a decent overall campaign. Acquired as the headliner of the Starling Marte trade, Peguero now ranks as the 6t6h best prospect in the sport. It will be very fun to watch him and Nick Gonzales turn double-plays in the near future. Next year, he’ll still only be 21, but may get things kicked off at Double-A.

After Peguero, we have another pitching prospect, this time in the form of Miguel Yajure. One of the other pieces coming back for Jameson Taillon, Yajure has four offerings that project as average or better and has displayed strong command. His stuff looked solid in most of the games he played this year in the major leagues but struggled heavily in his final start of 2021. He’ll get a full season’s look in 2022 after missing a good chunk of 2021 due to injury. Right now, you’re looking at the 69th best prospect.

Right behind Yajure, Oneil Cruz comes in at #70.

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Cruz back at the 2017 trade deadline for then rental lefty reliever Tony Watson (the Dodgers are probably kicking themselves for trading both Cruz and Yordan Alvarez about a year apart from each other for two middling relief pitchers). Cruz has massive power potential, coming in with a projected-60 game power grade and projected-80 raw power grade. He can leverage his 6’7″, 210-pound frame to hit the ball very hard and very far. Cruz has some swing-and-miss, but not even close to the degree of Mason Martin. He’s also a plus runner and has a solid glove at shortstop, though his throws can get a bit wild.

He has a cannon of an arm, which is another tool considered an 80-grade weapon. Cruz looked outstanding in his first sip of big-league plate appearances and while long term, he may not stick at short, his outstanding offensive potential makes him a guy who could bat middle of the order for the Pirates for years to come.

Right-hander Tahnaj Thomas is considered a top 100 prospect by FanGraphs. He comes in as their 90th best prospect. The right-hander was acquired for Jordan Luplow and Max Moroff. Thomas has a fastball that can reach triple-digits, as well as a great slider. The only issue is that he needs to develop his change-up more, and he can get wild at times. But, he’s been described to have a fantastic work ethic and has shown the dedication to improve his command and hopefully stay in the rotation long term. Though admittedly, he looks more like a very good back of the bullpen arm.

Thomas is the last player ranked in the top 100 the Pirates got in trades. Again though, that doesn’t mean the Pirates haven’t gotten back any more talent in trades. Brennan Malone (part of the Marte trade) has ace potential but has run into some bad injury luck. Hudson Head (part of the Joe Musgrove deal) is considered a high-ceiling outfielder with five-tool potential. Canaan Smith-Njigba, Maikol Escotto (both part of the Taillon deal), Diego Castillo, and Hoy Park (acquired for Clay Holmes) all had solid seasons in the minor leagues, were all acquired from the Yankees, and all but Escotto (who was 19-years-old and already at A-Ball) had a wRC+ of at least 120 in the minor leagues this year (aka, 20% better than league average).

Endy Rodriguez (another piece that was part of the Musgrove trade) won his league’s MVP with A-Ball Bradenton. Tucupita Marcano (part of the Adam Frazier trade) has been lauded for his outstanding bat-to-ball skill and outstanding plate discipline.

The remaining ranked players the Pirates have gotten through trade include Eddy Yean, Ricky DeVito, Joaquin Tejada, Carter Bins, Jack Suwinski, and Abrahan Gutierrez. All told, that’s 19 players, which makes up 31.7% of FanGraphs’s rankings.