The Pittsburgh Pirates minor league affiliates have some talented rosters, but who is the best player on each roster?
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a ton of talented prospects at each level of the minor leagues. From rookie-ball up to Triple-A, each affiliate has at least one highly gifted player who could end up being a vital part of the future Pirates. With such a deep system, plenty of talented players are bound to be stationed at one level, but who is the best at each minor league affiliate?
That’s what I want to look at today and see what the best prospect projected to open the year on each minor league affiliate’s roster. The Pirates have four full-season minor league affiliates, including the Bradenton Marauders, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Altoona Curve, and Indianapolis Indians. The only affiliates we will not be taking a look at today are the Pirates’ Dominican Summer League or Florida Complex League affiliates.
Low-A Bradenton - Middle Infielder Termarr Johnson
The Pirates drafted Termarr Johnson with the fourth overall pick in the 2022 draft. Completely unbiased; I think Johnson was the best player in the draft. He fell to #4 because he projects as a second baseman rather than a shortstop. While shortstop is considered a more premium position than second base, that doesn’t take away from Johnson’s overall talent.
Johnson has arguably the best plate discipline and coverage in the entire system. MLB Pipeline drew comparisons to Vlad Guerrero Sr. and Wade Boggs for his ability to make contact and draw walks. But Johnson isn’t just an all-hit/no-power kind of prospect. He still projects as an above-average power hitter with the potential to average out around 20-25 home runs a season.
As a defender, he makes the easy plays at shortstop and has average range, but there were questions about if his reflexes and arm could play there long term. At the very worst, the Pirates move him to second base, where he can be an above-average defender at the keystone. He’s plenty fast enough that he could steal 15 bases a season and cover enough ground up the middle.
Johnson made his pro debut last season but only stepped to the plate a total of 82 times. He looked decent at Bradenton, collecting eleven hits with five extra-base hits (four doubles, one home run) and ten walks in just 53 plate appearances. While he looked good at Bradenton, he’ll likely start the 2023 season there. But look for him to make the jump to Greensboro when the weather starts heating up in June.
Honorable Mention: Thomas Harrington