MLB Pipeline’s newest top 100 prospect list included six Pittsburgh Pirates prospects, the second most among all MLB teams.
MLB Pipeline recently released their top 100 list as we approach the 2022 season. They’re pretty bullish toward the Pittsburgh Pirates, ranking 6 of their minor league players among the top 100 prospects in baseball. Impressively, half of them rank in the top 30.
Their 6 top 100 prospects tie them with the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles for the second-most among the other 30 teams. Per their measurement, only the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees have more top 100 prospects than the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Kicking off the list at no. 20 is second baseman Nick Gonzales. Gonzales recently ranked as Pipeline’s best second base prospect. Gonzales is coming off a season where he posted a .950 OPS, .405 wOBA, and 150 wRC+ at Greensboro. Although his 27.4% strikeout rate was a tad high, he did improve it as the season went on. From August through the end of the year, he cut that down to 23.3%. Plus, Gonzales helped off-set that with a 10.8% walk rate.
After Gonzales comes catcher Henry Davis at no. 24. Davis was the Pirates’ first-round pick in 2021, making him the first overall pick in the draft. The backstop is renowned for his power potential. In his last season at Louisville, Davis had 15 home runs in just 228 plate appearances and an isolated slugging percentage just below .300 at .293. He also showed off a ton of power during his first taste of pro ball.
He’s only had 31 trips to the plate, but eight hits, including two doubles, a triple, and three home runs. Davis’s fielding still is a question mark, but he has one of the best arms among all catching prospects.
Two spots down at no. 26 is Oneil Cruz. Cruz had a phenomenal year in 2021, where he had a .970 OPS, .412 wOBA, and 158 wRC+. The slugger has massive raw power that he generates from his 6’7, 210-pound frame. Cruz started the year at Double-A but made his major league debut in the last week of the season. He only appeared in two games but collected three hits. One was a home run he hit on one knee, and another was one of the hardest-hit balls all season. Cruz’s defense at shortstop is more than playable, but with another shortstop prospect that we’ll bring up later, he might have to move to the outfield long-term. Cruz does have the speed, athleticism, and arm to play the grass if he must move there.
Coming in at no. 54 is the Pittsburgh Pirates best pitching prospect, Quinn Priester. Priester made up a robust Greensboro roster in 2021. He pitched to the tune of a 3.04 ERA, 4.08 FIP, and 1.24 WHIP through 97.2 innings of work. Priester had a solid 24.1% strikeout rate and 9.6% walk rate, but his .74 HR/9 is the most notable mark given his league’s hitter-friendly environment. However, 3 of the home runs and 5 of the 39 walks he surrendered came in just two games. The average HR/9 was 1.23. The right-hander also had a remarkable second half with a 2.59 ERA, 3.35 FIP, and 1.11 WHIP.
The team’s next best pitching prospect per MLB Pipeline is right-hander Roansy Contreras. Contreras comes in at no. 71 after having a great 2021 season. He mostly spent the year at Altoona, where he had a 2.65 ERA, 2.74 FIP, and .90 WHIP. Contreras had a massive 34.9% strikeout rate, a minuscule 5.5% walk rate, and a healthy 0.83 HR/9. Contreras made his way to the major leagues this year like Cruz, also in the last week of the season. He fired three scoreless innings with 4 strikeouts and just a single walk. Contreras skyrocketed up prospect boards this past year after showing a massively improved fastball that was hitting the upper-90s with regularity and a vastly improved slider.
Last but certainly not least is Liover Peguero at no. 79. The shortstop prospect was Nick Gonzales’ double-play partner at Greensboro. Peguero produced a quality .776 OPS, .338 wOBA, and 108 wRC+. Like many of the Pirates’ prospects, Peguero had a tremendous second half. From July 25th onward, he managed to put up a .868 OPS, .374 wOBA, and 130 wRC+. Peguero’s power has steadily been trending in the right direction, and he adapts well to pitching. After all, he was in his age 20-season when the average age of pitchers at his level was about 23-years-old. Despite that, he managed to put up above average numbers and caught fire in the second half. Peguero also brings a good amount of speed to his game, and plus glovework at a defensive premium position. Another thing of note is that Peguero and Gonzales have really hit it off since becoming teammates at Greensboro. Look for them to continue to improve their game at Altoona next year.
MLB Pipeline gives the Pittsburgh Pirates an outstanding outlook, even more than FanGraphs, who have been quite high on the Pirates in the last few years. It’s also nice to see three prospects among the top 30 from one of the more popular prospect rankings.