Tag: Pittsburgh Pirates

2019 Draft Recap – NL Central

2019 Draft Recap – NL Central

I will be breaking down my take on the draft for each team just as I started with Minor League Ball a season ago. Like then, this is a six article series, going East to West for the AL and NL. I will break down four picks for each team with those being:

Best Pick: Likely a Monday selection that I love as a fit and/or upside for the organization.

Reach: A selection I just don’t like, or at least as early as the player was selected.

Sleeper: Likely a Tuesday selection that the team got lower than I would have selected them, providing good value.

Deep Sleeper: This will be a pick often after the 10th round that will likely be signed (most often a college senior) and provide value in the system and potentially become a future big league player. Some will be inside the top 10 rounds depending on how the draft unfolded for that given team.

To see the other lists, use the links below (to be added as the articles post):

NL East
NL Central
NL West
AL East
AL Central
AL West

Chicago Cubs

Best Pick: Chase Strumpf – 2B – UCLA – Round 2 – Pick 64 – When Strumpf’s name was announced at the draft, he was about to step into the on-deck circle as UCLA looked (and succeeded) in knocking off Loyola Marymount to proceed to the Super Regionals. When he stepped to the plate, he launched a three-run bomb that helped them advance. Power isn’t really a big part of his game, although he has enough to grade out pretty close to average. The real impressive pieces of Strumpf’s game are his plus hit tool and his ability to play a very strong second base.

Reach: Ryan Jensen – RHP – Fresno State – Round 1 – Pick 27 – Jensen did sign for more than a half million under slot, which makes this less of a reach as that nearly made up enough money needed to sign their sixth round pick, and my sleeper, Ethan Hearn. Jensen will likely need to move to the bullpen as he doesn’t have the body nor the delivery to hold up to a starting workload. He also struggles with command and lacks a viable third offering, although his big fastball and quality slider could make him a solid late inning reliever, just looking for more upside or more secure floor than this in the first round.

Sleeper: Ethan Hearn – C – Mobile Christian School (AL) – Round 6 – Pick 192 – Hearn was my third ranked catcher in this draft but was the 12th selected, although he was the first prep catcher selected which is always a risky selection. He has a bigger body and lacks the lateral mobility I typically like from a catcher, but the feet are good when popping up to make a throw and the strong arm makes him a guy who can post sub-2.0 pop times. He also has plus raw power with a decent left-handed stroke that should lead to enough contact to get to that power. I would not have criticized a team had they taken Hearn late in the first round, so the sixth round and paying him “second round money” is an easy “sleeper” decision for me.

Deep Sleeper: Nelson Maldonado – OF – Florida – Round 21 – Pick 642 – I gave real consideration to Adam Laskey and Hunter Bigge for this spot, but both still have a year of eligibility left and neither have signed as of the time of this writing, so I broke the tie and went with the senior. Maldonado has an elite eye at the plate and some pop in the bat, although the power has been inconsistent. He is rather limited defensively as he is likely a LF only type guy, but has the upside to hit enough to become a decent fourth outfielder.

Cincinnati Reds

Best Pick: Nick Lodolo – LHP – TCU – Round 1 – Pick 7 – There was little surprise when Lodolo was announced to the Reds with the seventh pick as he was strongly linked to them for a while ahead of the draft. He is long and lanky but has good body control and a whippy 3/4 slot creating real run on all his pitches. The slider is a wipeout pitch while he has a borderline plus change to go with a running fastball that gets into the mid-90s. There was something in his delivery that reminded me of Chris Sale, and he could be a poor man’s version of Sale, which should make the Reds incredibly happy.

Reach: Eric Yang – C – UCSB – Round 7 – Pick 204 – I don’t like Yang as a pick in the top 10 rounds as I don’t see a true path to the big leauges for him. He is a solid receiver behind the plate, but not special. His arm is average at best, he showed flashes of some pop in the bat and has a good eye at the plate, but I doubt he ever really hits enough to carry him to the highest level. I would rather have seen the Reds go with a proven senior they can get for a lower cost and use the funds for the multiple players they got who may need over slot (Rece Hinds, Quin Cotton, Tyler Callihan, Yan Contreras).

Sleeper: Tyler Callihan – 3B – Providence School of Jacksonville (FL) – Round 3 – Pick 85 – It is hard to call a guy who signed for more than double slot a sleeper, which is why I almost went with Rece Hinds or Quin Cotton, but ultimately this was a great selection by the Reds. Callihan easily could have been selected in the first round as he has an advanced hit tool and quality raw power. The arm and bat both project well for third but the glove is his big question mark. He was announced as a second baseman, which makes even less sense for me, and he has seen time behind the plate at times. Ultimately, it will be the bat that carries him, but if he can stay off first base he can be a special selection.

Deep Sleeper: Patrick Raby – RHP – Vanderbilt – Round 17 – Pick 504 – If the Reds can sign Yan Contreras, he will be a real steal in the 12th round, but Raby is a senior and all but guaranteed to sign. He doesn’t have the raw stuff of most well-regarded draft picks, but he has a track record few can match. He has been a four-year contributor at pitching powerhouse Vanderbilt and struck out more than a batter per inning this season. His fastball tops out around 90 and has an average curve and change, but he may be able to work his way into a spot starter in time, which is a quality return in round 17.

Milwaukee Brewers

Best Pick: Thomas Dillard – C/OF – Ole Miss – Round 5 – Pick 163 – I was not big on the Brewers draft, which is represented by the fact I have their fifth-round pick as their best pick. He has plus raw power and good bat speed that allows him to hit well from both sides of the plate. What makes me like this pick most is the fact he was announced as a catcher. Dillard was a catcher in HS and saw minimal time there while at Ole Miss, but he could be a special bat for the position if he is able to improve the receiving ability and feet behind the dish. The arm is more than enough to play there and could allow him to play right, although his range is quite limited and he may end up at first if catching doesn’t work out, where I would end up ranking this as just another eh selection for the Brewers this year.

Reach: Antoine Kelly – LHP – Wabash Valley College – Round 2 – Pick 65 – Kelly is a 6’6” lefty who can touch 98 with ease and triple digits are likely in his future, there, I said nice things about him. The next time he shows a quality secondary offering just may be the first time as he has a slider but it spins more than it breaks, and he throws a change but it is incredibly inconsistent and easy to read. None of his pitches are thrown with much in terms of command and the delivery needs work. He has a special fastball, but I like Tanner Scott’s FB (reliever for the Baltimore Orioles) and Scott has shown at least one average secondary offering, and his big league ERA is over 5.5. I fear Kelly is all fastball but little else.

Sleeper: Gabe Holt – OF/2B – Texas Tech – Round 7 – Pick 223 – Holt has spent most his time in Lubbock as a second baseman but his future is most likely in center. He has plus-plus speed that allows him to steal plenty of bags and cover a ton of ground defensively. He knows his role and does not worry about creating much in term of launch angle, instead going for a line drive approach to all fields and letting his legs do the work. He is most likely a future utility guy, but he has the upside of an everyday player who gets on base and makes things happen once there and I would not be shocked if he has the best career of anyone in the Brewers draft class this year.

Deep Sleeper: David Hamilton – SS – Texas – Round 8 – Pick 253 – This is one of the few day two guys who will be highlighted as a “deep sleeper” for me, but Hamilton is a guy who missed the entire season and may miss some of next season too after blowing out his Achilles. Hamilton’s calling card is his speed, which is a real question now given the injury he sustained. If he gets back to his pre-injury form, he still wasn’t a lock to go on day one of the draft, but he should be able to hold down short and slap the ball around the ballpark enough to have an impact. He can take a medical redshirt and return to Austin to improve his draft stock, but I hope he signs, finishes his rehab, and gets on the field sometime next Spring.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Best Pick: Quinn Priester – RHP – Cary-Grove HS (IL) – Round 1 – Pick 18 – My initial reaction to this pick wasn’t glowing, but the more I look at the pick the more I like it. He has a big fastball that can get into the upper 90s with life, and a high-quality curve that has plus potential. His change is far behind the other two pitches as he simply hasn’t needed it coming from a cold weather region that his fastball is usually enough to blow away hitters. He has good command and a quality delivery to go with a body that has plenty of projection left in it. Still don’t love Priester and I don’t believe he has the greatest of upside despite the big fastball, but he could turn into a low-end number two starter or high-end number three, which is an excellent return.

Reach: J.C. Flowers – RHP – Florida State – Round 4 – Pick 124 – To be honest, if Flowers had been announced as an outfielder, I would actually like this selection, but I am not too fond of it as a pitcher. He probably had as good a chance as any in this class to be a two-way player and has elite athleticism that makes him an above-average defensive center fielder and quality base runner. He strikes out too much but there is real pop in the bat. Unfortunately, at least to me, we won’t see that as he was drafted for what he did as the Seminoles closer. His fastball gets into the mid-90s when at its best, but more often sits in the low-90s. He has a cutting slider that may develop into an above average offering, and a change that could come along enough to allow him to get some run as a starter.

Sleeper: Blake Sabol – OF/C – USC – Round 7 – Pick 214 – I don’t rule out Sabol being given a chance to catch where I think he has the athleticism and enough arm to give it a real run. If that doesn’t work, he will be just fine in the outfield where he covers enough ground to fill in at center, enough arm to fill in right, but is really a left fielder long term. He has a good eye at the plate, but doesn’t take advantage of it enough, attacking bad first pitches far too often. When he does make contact, his plus raw power allows the ball to travel, although the game power is still well behind the raw. If Sabol puts it all together, he is a first-round talent, it is just a question of whether or not he manages to do that.

Deep Sleeper: Chase Murray – OF – Georgia Tech – Round 13 – Pick 394 – I had some real doubt Murray would sign when I heard his name called, but it does appear he will. If you go off his sophomore and Cape Cod numbers, Murray looks like an easy day two guy, but he really struggled this past season and fell to day three. He has shown he can play center and hit for good average but the power is quite limited. Like many of the “deep sleepers” I will name, his most likely role at the highest level is as a bench option, where I think he could be a quality fourth outfielder.

St. Louis Cardinals

Best Pick: Zack Thompson – LHP – Kentucky – Round 1 – Pick 19 – A successful summer on the Cape and with the USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team launched Thompson into consideration as the top pitcher in the draft. He wound up being the fifth arm off the board but may be as “safe” an arm as any selected in round one. His fastball gets into the mid-90s with good tilt and some rune while mixing in two breaking balls that are above average. His change is already solid and should be a quality fourth offering to go with a repeatable and clean delivery giving him an easy mid-rotation to better future.

Reach: Trejyn Fletcher – OF – Deering HS (ME) – Round 2 – Pick 58 – Athletic, cold weather prep players are always an interesting case come draft time, and this is one I am not big on. He re-classified to be eligible for the draft this year rather than next but was still already 18 come draft day and there isn’t a track record against quality competition. He has an impressive arm and can really run, but I wonder if he will ever make enough contact to be a viable big league option. There is power but even raw may not be more than average, although the chances he is an above-average if not plus defender in center are good, so there is some floor, I am just not sold on the tools at the plate.

Sleeper: Jack Ralston – RHP – UCLA – Round 7 – Pick 215 – Ralston has a deliver I can’t make up my mind on as there is good control in the lower half but the arm whips right over the top with inconsistent release points. When at his best, it has massive downhill plane thanks to the fact he is 6’6” and his high slot, but he will whip the ball in the dirt and leave it high far more than you want, and the ball can become somewhat easy to find. He does have a hammer curve that misses barrels and a change that needs significant work. I do like the combo of that fastball and curve out of the pen when it isn’t as easy to get a read on the release point, and I could see him becoming a quality late inning option.

Deep Sleeper: Tommy Jew – OF – UC Santa Barbara – Round 13 – Pick 395 – The Gauchos flirted with a top 10 ranking at times this season, but then went two and out in the Stanford regional. One of the more upsetting moments for UCSB fans was watching Jew trip at first and flip over the bag before being carted off with his left ankle stabilized. He tapped into his power stroke this season and went from a slap hitting center fielder to a more traditional bat. There are more Ks than you want, but the added pop and impressive defense make up for it. That defense is above average D in center field where he allows his plus speed to cover a ton of ground and has more than enough arm for the position. His baseball instincts help him in the field and on the bases and, assuming a return to full health, he will outperform his draft position by a long shot.

Prospect Call Up – Mitch Keller – RHP – Pittsburgh Pirates

Prospect Call Up – Mitch Keller – RHP – Pittsburgh Pirates

Coming into the year Mitch Keller was my 29th ranked prospect in baseball and 9th ranked pitcher, and that will likely be the last rankings list he is on here at Three Quarter Slot as he will make his big league debut on Memorial Day evening as he will start the second game of a double-header in Cincinnati. The top ranked Pittsburgh Pirates prospect will try and improve a rotation that is coming off a rough weekend as the club gave up 10-7-11 runs to the Dodgers in a three-game set.

Keller’s fastball can touch triple digits but really sits up to 97 on most days with heavy sink. The delivery is easy and repeatable making him a guy who can eat innings and keep his velo deep into starts. He pairs that with a plus curve with a sharp 11-5 curve that breaks well over two planes. His change is still a tick below average but is on track to develop into an easy average offering.

His delivery can show the ball behind his back some, but the controlled motions and high 3/4 slot allows him to throw all his pitches for strikes and really attacks hitters. If/when the change becomes a solid out pitch, he can become a strong number two starter (there aren’t 30 number one starters so likely the future ace of the staff) who can work deep into games. It will be interesting to see how deep the Pirates let him go in his first start, but as the second starter of a twin billing it may come down to how well the first game goes. Being part of a double-header is always a risk that he gets sent right back down the AAA but, even if he does, it won’t be for long as he might be the second best starter in the organization today.

2019 Preseason Top 150

Carter Kieboom
Carter Kieboom. Courtesy: Aaron Whelan

Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150.  15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.

 

Player Position Team Rank
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3B Toronto Blue Jays 1
Fernando Tatis Jr. SS San Diego Padres 2
Eloy Jimenez OF Chicago White Sox 3
Forrest Whitley RHP Houston Astros 4
Victor Robles OF Washington Nationals 5
Jo Adell OF Los Angeles Angels 6
Royce Lewis SS Minnesota Twins 7
Wander Franco SS Tampa Bay Rays 8
Nick Senzel 2B/3B Cincinnati Reds 9
Jesus Luzardo LHP Oakland Athletics 10
MacKenzie Gore LHP San Diego Padres 11
Bo Bichette SS/2B Toronto Blue Jays 12
Kyle Tucker OF Houston Astros 13
Taylor Trammell OF Cincinnati Reds 14
Keston Hiura 2B Milwaukee Brewers 15
Brendan Rodgers SS/2B Colorado Rockies 16
Sixto Sanchez RHP Miami Marlins 17
Cristian Pache OF Atlanta Braves 18
Carter Kieboom SS Washington Nationals 19
Luis Urias 2B/SS San Diego Padres 20
Casey Mize RHP Detroit Tigers 21
Joey Bart C San Francisco Giants 22
Austin Riley 3B Atlanta Braves 23
Keibert Ruiz C Los Angeles Dodgers 24
Pete Alonso 1B New York Mets 25
Brendan McKay LHP/1B Tampa Bay Rays 26
Michael Kopech RHP Chicago White Sox 27
Hunter Greene RHP Cincinnati Reds 28
Mitch Keller RHP Pittsburgh Pirates 29
Andres Gimenez SS New York Mets 30
Brent Honeywell RHP Tampa Bay Rays 31
Nick Madrigal 2B/SS Chicago White Sox 32
Jonathan India 3B/SS Cincinnati Reds 33
Sean Murphy C Oakland Athletics 34
Alex Verdugo OF Los Angeles Dodgers 35
A.J. Puk LHP Oakland Athletics 36
Matthew Liberatore LHP Tampa Bay Rays 37
Mike Soroka RHP Atlanta Braves 38
Nolan Gorman 3B St. Louis Cardinals 39
Ian Anderson RHP Atlanta Braves 40
Francisco Mejia C/OF San Diego Padres 41
Luis Robert OF Chicago White Sox 42
Dylan Cease RHP Chicago White Sox 43
Chris Paddack RHP San Diego Padres 44
Ke’Bryan Hayes 3B Pittsburgh Pirates 45
Vidal Brujan 2B Tampa Bay Rays 46
Touki Toussaint RHP Atlanta Braves 47
Brusdar Graterol RHP Minnesota Twins 48
Justus Sheffield LHP Seattle Mariners 49
Kyle Wright RHP Atlanta Braves 50
Yordan Alvarez OF Houston Astros 51
Alex Kirilloff OF Minnesota Twins 52
Jesus Sanchez OF Tampa Bay Rays 53
Yusei Kikuchi LHP Seattle Mariners 54
Yusniel Diaz OF Baltimore Orioles 55
Khalil Lee OF Kansas City Royals 56
Jarred Kelenic OF Seattle Mariners 57
Triston McKenzie RHP Cleveland Indians 58
Danny Jansen C Toronto Blue Jays 59
Jazz Chisholm SS Arizona Diamondbacks 60
Adrian Morejon LHP San Diego Padres 61
Griffin Canning RHP Los Angeles Angels 62
Dustin May RHP Los Angeles Dodgers 63
Luis Patino RHP San Diego Padres 64
Alec Bohm 3B Philadelphia Phillies 65
Estevan Florial OF New York Yankees 66
Jon Duplantier RHP Arizona Diamondbacks 67
DL Hall LHP Baltimore Orioles 68
Nate Pearson RHP Toronto Blue Jays 69
Josh James RHP Houston Astros 70
Drew Waters OF Atlanta Braves 71
Bryse Wilson RHP Atlanta Braves 72
Nolan Jones 3B Cleveland Indians 73
Gavin Lux SS/2B Los Angeles Dodgers 74
Travis Swaggerty OF Pittsburgh Pirates 75
Matt Manning RHP Detroit Tigers 76
Oneil Cruz SS Pittsburgh Pirates 77
Luis Garcia SS/3B Washington Nationals 78
Garrett Hampson 2B/SS Colorado Rockies 79
Adonis Medina RHP Philadelphia Phillies 80
Ryan Mountcastle 3B Baltimore Orioles 81
Kristian Robinson OF Arizona Diamondbacks 82
Brady Singer RHP Kansas City Royals 83
Monte Harrison OF Miami Marlins 84
Logan Allen LHP San Diego Padres 85
Nico Hoerner SS Chicago Cubs 86
Michel Baez RHP San Diego Padres 87
Isaac Paredes SS/2B Detroit Tigers 88
Victor Victor Mesa OF Miami Marlins 89
Trevor Larnach OF Minnesota Twins 90
Brandon Marsh OF Los Angeles Angels 91
Heliot Ramos OF San Francisco Giants 92
Brandon Lowe 2B/OF Tampa Bay Rays 93
Ronny Mauricio SS New York Mets 94
Will Smith C/3B Los Angeles Dodgers 95
MJ Melendez C Kansas City Royals 96
Dane Dunning RHP Chicago White Sox 97
Ronaldo Hernandez C Tampa Bay Rays 98
Hans Crouse RHP Texas Rangers 99
Jonathan Loaisiga RHP New York Yankees 100
Corbin Martin RHP Houston Astros 101
Cole Winn RHP Texas Rangers 102
Luiz Gohara LHP Atlanta Braves 103
Leody Taveras OF Texas Rangers 104
William Contreras C Atlanta Braves 105
Seuly Matias OF Kansas City Royals 106
Lucius Fox SS Tampa Bay Rays 107
Corey Ray OF Milwaukee Brewers 108
Spencer Howard RHP Philadelphia Phillies 109
Jahmai Jones 2B Los Angeles Angels 110
Jordyn Adams OF Los Angeles Angels 111
George Valera OF Cleveland Indians 112
J.B. Bukauskas RHP Houston Astros 113
Justin Dunn RHP Seattle Mariners 114
Michael Chavis 3B Boston Red Sox 115
Mark Vientos 3B New York Mets 116
Daz Cameron OF Detroit Tigers 117
Bubba Thompson OF Texas Rangers
Josh Naylor 1B/OF San Diego Padres 119
Colton Welker 3B Colorado Rockies 120
Daulton Varsho C Arizona Diamondbacks 121
Evan White 1B Seattle Mariners 122
Peter Lambert RHP Colorado Rockies 123
Taylor Widener RHP Arizona Diamondbacks 124
Julio Pablo Martinez OF Texas Rangers 125
Kevin Smith SS/3B Toronto Blue Jays 126
Miguel Amaya C Chicago Cubs 127
Andrew Knizner C St. Louis Cardinals 128
Tyler Nevin 1B Colorado Rockies 129
Hudson Potts 3B/1B San Diego Padres 130
Sandy Alcantara RHP Miami Marlins 131
Shane Baz RHP Tampa Bay Rays 132
Tyler Stephenson C Cincinnati Reds 133
Eric Pardinho RHP Toronto Blue Jays 134
Franklin Perez RHP Detroit Tigers 135
Jordan Groshans 3B/SS Toronto Blue Jays 136
Dakota Hudson RHP St. Louis Cardinals 137
Nate Lowe 1B Tampa Bay Rays 138
Elehuris Montero 3B St. Louis Cardinals 139
Luis Oviedo RHP Cleveland Indians 140
Tony Santillan RHP Cincinnati Reds 141
Triston Casas 1B/3B Boston Red Sox 142
Adbert Alzolay RHP Chicago Cubs 143
Ethan Hankins RHP Cleveland Indians 144
Beau Burrows RHP Detroit Tigers 145
Brice Turang SS Milwaukee Brewers 146
Brent Rooker 1B/OF Minnesota Twins 147
Alex Faedo RHP Detroit Tigers 148
Deivi Garcia RHP New York Yankees 149
Ryan Weathers LHP San Diego Padres 150

 

Pittsburgh Pirates 2019 Preseason Top 10

Pittsburgh Pirates 2019 Preseason Top 10

1)

Player: Mitch Keller
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’2” Weight: 210 lbs.
Quick Report: A hard sinking fastball that can touch triple digits and sit up to 97 is a hard pitch to hit at any level, add to that a strong 11-5 curve and you have the makings of an impressive pitcher. In order to truly be effective as a starter, he needs to improve the change that is not quite average but showing signs it will get there, which will make the fastball and curve play even better. The delivery is smooth and repeatable, although he has battled injuries throughout his pro career. He has the future of a number two or three starter, although he could have to become a dominant reliever if the change doesn’t improve, but I foresee him settling in as a staple in the Pirates rotation as early as this June.

2)

Player: Ke’Bryan Hayes
Position(s): 3B Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 210 lbs.
Quick Report: A real shot to be a future Gold Glove award winner, Hayes has the bloodlines (his father Charlie Hayes played 13 years in the big leagues) and athleticism to be special. He has a contact first approach that has also seen him improve his walk rate every pro season. The bat seems to be pulled through the zone rather than snappy so the power upside may be limited, but a guy who hits for a solid average, can leg out plenty of doubles, and plays elite defense can be a starter for a long time at the big league level.

3)

Player: Travis Swaggerty
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 5’11” Weight: 180 lbs.
Quick Report: The tenth overall pick a season ago, Swaggerty really made a name for himself starring on the collegiate team for Team USA after his sophomore year. He made some mechanical adjustments to his swing to go from a more contact oriented bat to a guy with plus raw power. He has a long stride that allows him to really get into the ball to the pull side but can swing over the ball quite a bit too. Despite the stride suggesting he should struggle with off-speed stuff, he has very good hands that adjust well and will limit the number of strikeouts he is saddles with. In the field he can fly and is improving on his routes, suggesting he will be an above average center fielder with a plus arm for the position.

4)

Player: Oneil Cruz
Position(s): SS/OF Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height:  6’6” Weight: 175 lbs.
Quick Report: Quite possibly the most intriguing prospect in baseball, Cruz is listed at 6’6” but some say he is at least an inch taller. The simple fact is there has never been a player able to stick at short with his size, but there is a chance he sticks there. He has good hands and as strong an arm as any position player in baseball. He runs well for a long legged guy, although it is more straight line speed than quickness. If he does move off short, the first move would likely be to center, but if he ends up losing too much athleticism (he is insanely lean at just 175 lbs. after all) he could be a plus defender in right. There is real concern about his ability to make consistent contact, but that may not be too big a concern as he has top of the scale raw power and is already allowing that to translate to game power. If he can prove he is able to hit .275, which is unlikely, and stick at short, he will be the number one prospect in the game in a couple years. That is his ceiling, but I see him more as a .260 hitter with 35+ home runs and a change to be an above average defensive center fielder.

5)

Player: Cole Tucker
Position(s): SS Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Switch Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 205 lbs.
Quick Report: Shoulder injuries are always scary, but Tucker has bounced back from a labrum tear early in his career to see his arm return to plus status. His defense at short is smooth and is good enough to make him be an impactful player regardless of his offense, which has improved. He is much better from the left side of the plate as his swing is smooth and is able to barrel up the ball well. From the right side, the swing gets a bit clunky and he grounds out too often, but he is still very lean, so there is a chance that smooths out as he fills out more and could become a guy who runs into double digit home runs.

6)

Player: Kevin Kramer
Position(s): 2B Opening Day Age: 25 2018 Highest Level: MLB
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 200 lbs.
Quick Report: Kramer struggled in his brief taste of the big leagues a season ago, but that is of little concern to the Pirates. He is a player who has always been able to make adjustments, going from a contact first hitter to a guy looking to hit for power, he now needs to improve his approach at the plate, something I have little doubt he will be able to do. His future as an everyday player is at second base, but if he can’t hold down an everyday job he can be a utility infielder that can hold down short in a pinch and has enough arm to play third.

7)

Player: Kevin Newman
Position(s): SS/2B Opening Day Age: 25 2018 Highest Level: MLB
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: Newman lands this high on the list purely based on floor as his ceiling is quite limited. He is a solid shortstop who can play very good defense at second and hold down third if needed. At the plate it is an all contact, no power approach, which really limits his impact. He doesn’t walk much, but he rarely strikes out, which allows him to potentially be a guy who hits second in a lineup, but more likely a number seven type hitter. If all comes together, he could have a ceiling of a David Eckstein, but that will most likely be a utility role due to the infield talent the Pirates have on the way.

8)

Player: Bryan Reynolds
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Switch Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 205 lbs.
Quick Report: I really struggled with who to place higher between Mitchell and Reynolds, and ultimately settled giving Reynolds the nod ahead of Mitchell.. While Vandy has an impressive track record of pitching talent in recent years, their outfield prospects have proven to be better in college than in the pros, and I fear Reynolds may be another example of this. He is a solid defensive center fielder but lacks the arm strength to be a true fourth outfielder as he would not be able to play right. There is hope he develops into average power, and the swing does make it easy to put an above average raw grade on it, but it is the contact and the fact he is a switch hitter that will carry him.

9)

Player: Calvin Mitchell
Position(s): OF Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6’ Weight: 210 lbs.
Quick Report: Defensively, Mitchell is quite limited, likely to be a left fielder and some chance he has to move to the dirt and play first. He has a smooth stroke from the left side of the plate that could keep up and allow him to develop an above average hit tool. There is a good bat plane to translate to power, but he lacks projectability, so I don’t see a whole lot more game power showing up. In the end, he will be a guy who could become above average hit, average power, but a defensive liability that limits his upside.

10)

Player: Luis Escobar
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 205 lbs.
Quick Report: Sitting in the mid-90s and running his fastball up to 97 wasn’t something many saw coming when he signed with the Pirates as an infielder in 2013. Now he is a power pitcher that has started all but five of his pro appearances, although his big league future is in the bullpen. He has the big fastball, but also has an above average curve and a change that has shown signs of being a plus pitch. The command is, well, poor and there is a lot of effort in the delivery, so the future is almost certainly as a high leverage reliever, although the command could limit his effectiveness in that role.

Others of Note:

Jason Martin – OF – 22 – AAA
Lolo Sanchez – OF – 19 – Low A
Jared Oliva – OF – 23 – High A
Steven Jennings – RHP – 20 – Rookie
Pablo Reyes – Util – 25 – MLB
Tahnaj Thomas – RHP – 19 – Rookie
Braxton Ashcraft – RHP – 19 – Rookie