The Pittsburgh Pirates still have quite a strong farm system even after graduating many top prospects, but who are our top 10?
At the start and end of every season, I enjoy putting together a top 10 Pittsburgh Pirates prospect list based on our staff writers’ opinions of the system and prospects. The Pirates’ system has changed dramatically over the past few years, meaning our top 10 prospect rankings have varied throughout recent history.
Even after graduating the likes of Oneil Cruz, Jack Suwinski, Roansy Contreras, and Rodolfo Castro, the Pirates still have one of the best farm systems in the sport. They’re top five according to FanGraphs rankings. Even if the rebuild is nearing its potential conclusion, you may still see it improve given the amount of high school and international talent the Pirates have added in the past year, like Michael Kennedy, Yordany De Los Santos, Tony Blanco Jr., and Hung Leng Chang.
Before we get into no. 10, let’s first examine a few honorable mentions. These prospects received some votes from our staff writers, but not enough to make it to the top 10 (note that this is not in any specific order).
Infielder Dariel Lopez
Pre-season Ranking: Unranked
Dariel Lopez is coming off a season in which he batted .286/.329/.476 for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. He only walked 5% of the time with a sub-par 25.5% strikeout rate, but he had 19 dingers in 420 plate appearances. He also had a strong summer in which he posted a .859 OPS, .382 wOBA, and 131 wRC+ from June through the end of the season. Lopez mostly played third base but saw time at shortstop and second base. However, most project his future to be first base, given his poor range.
Outfielder Rodolfo Nolasco
Pre-season Ranking: Unranked
Rodolfo Nolasco batted .239/.330/.425 with a .351 wOBA, and 116 wRC+ for A-Ball Bradenton. Although those weren’t the best numbers ever, he also started the year off ice-cold. Through the end of May, he had just a .584 OPS, .279 wOBA, and 70 wRC+. But from June through the end of the year, he put up a .940 OPS, .424 wOBA, and 163 wRC+. The downside is that the good production came with a 35.2% strikeout rate, but he also walked in 13.8% of his plate appearances. Nolasco isn’t the best fielder the Pirates have to offer, but he holds his own in the corner outfield and has displayed an above-average arm.
Pitcher Jared Jones
Pre-season Ranking: Unranked (honorable mention)
Jared Jones is coming off a poor campaign with the Grasshoppers. He posted a 4.62 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and 1.35 WHIP this year in 122.2 innings of work. The right-hander did have a quality 26.7% strikeout rate and 9.6% walk rate, but he surrendered home runs at a 1.39-per-9 pace. But Jones did have a solid campaign in 2021 in which he had a 3.91 FIP and 3.75 xFIP, and he still has one of the highest ceilings among the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects. He’s displayed four offerings with average or better potential and regularly works in the upper-90s.
Pitcher Michael Kennedy
Pre-season Ranking: Unranked (was not part of organization yet)
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Michael Kennedy as an over slot pick in the 2022 draft. Kennedy was one of the best high school southpaws, but fell to the Pirates in the fourth round because of a commitment to LSU. The lefty signed for $1 million, which was about $445K over slot. Kennedy throws a fastball, slider, and change-up. Despite being one of the youngest players in the draft, he’s already regularly working in the 90-94 MPH range. He also projects to have plus-plus command.
With that all out of the way, who do we have as our top 10 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects?