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  1. #1
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    2016 Minor League Thread

    2016 Pirates Minor League Thread

    Top 20 Prospects
    1. Tyler Glasnow
    2. Austin Meadows
    3. Josh Bell
    4. Jameson Taillon
    5. Harold Ramirez
    6. Ke'Bryan Hayes
    7. Cole Tucker
    8. Kevin Newman
    9. Alen Hanson
    10. Yeudy Garcia
    11. Kevin Kramer
    12. Stephen Tarpley
    13. Nick Kingham
    14. Steven Brault
    15. Elias Diaz
    16. Reese McGuire
    17. Trevor Williams
    18. Max Moroff
    19. Chad Kuhl
    20. Adam Frazier

    Rankings by John Sickles over at Minor League Ball
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  2. #2
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    The Bradenton Marauders have released their Opening Day roster. I figured I'd spend a few minutes discussing the prospects on it. First off recall I consider a good age for this level to be 22 or younger, 23 is ok but anything older is not a great sign for a player's prospect status. Due to this I have broken the roster down into three groups, 24+, 23 and 22-

    24+
    Nick Neumann
    Junior Lopez
    Tomas Morales
    Edgar Santana
    Trace Tam Sing
    Erik Lunde
    Jeff Roy
    Chase Simpson
    Sam Street

    Edgar Santana is probably the most interesting player in this group. He was a late international signing not signing until he was almost 22 years old. Last year was his first year in the states and he was impressive showing mid 90s heat and striking out a lot of batters. He looks like a legitimate relief prospect.

    Lunde, Simpson and Street are probably the next best prospects in this group. Lunde was just converted to catcher last year and hit very well down in Bristol (though he was very old for the level). He continued to play a bit of 2B last year in addition to his catcher work and may be asked to do the same here. Simpson is an infield corner player who started off really well in West Virginia last year but faded down the stretch. Street is an unorthodox pitcher who gets by despite his mid 80s stuff because of the deception of his unusual side arm delivery.

    Of the remaining players Trace Tam Sing is the most interesting as he is strong defensive middle infielder who shows a bit more pop than you'd expect but he has serious contact issues. Neumann and Lopez are organizational pitchers at this point who are here to round out the bullpen. Morales is a third catcher who is likely here only because backup Lunde will be asked to do more than just catch. Jeff Roy is an organizational player who will serve as a reserve outfielder.

    23
    Austin Coley
    Connor Joe
    Henry Hirsch
    Yeudy Garcia
    Colten Brewer
    Miguel Rosario
    Jerrick Suiter
    Alex McRae
    Michael Suchy
    Logan Hill

    Yeudy Garcia is the best prospect in this group and the best pitching prospect currently on the team. He came from seemingly no where to have a big breakout year last season and is now regarded as one of the best pitching prospects in the system. On the hitting side Connor Joe is the top prospect in this group and will be moving to 3B and with his back issues behind him hopefully his bat will come around and show why the Pirates thought highly enough of him to make him a first round selection.

    Austin Coley is probably the next most interesting pitcher on this list as he is coming off a solid season in West Virignia. He doesn't have the greatest stuff but his command is sharp and he fits the Brandon Cumpton mold that the Pirates have been reasonably successful developing into depth options. Suchy and Hill are two good hitting corner outfielders (though Hill will likely primarily DH) with Hill having displayed a bit more power to this point. Suchy is coming off a solid season in A ball but needs to show more power and Hill is coming off an excellent year in short season ball but needs to back up those numbers at a higher level.

    As for the rest Jerrick Suiter and Henry Hirsch have quietly put together a handful of good seasons in the minors but still haven't emerged as true prospects. Suiter is a corner player with a good bat but he hasn't shown much power and his defensive skills aren't the best so he'll need to show more to make that jump. Hirsch has some control problems early on but settled down last year with a very good year at this same level. Its disappointing the Pirates didn't promote him. Brewer is a pitcher who has flashed some potential but has had trouble simply staying healthy. Rosario looks like organizational depth at this point though he did have an uptick in strike outs last year so he can't be completely written off quite yet. McRae is coming off a disappointing year in West Virginia and though he'll start off in the rotation he may not be long for it if he doesn't show positive signs early on.

    22-
    Kevin Newman
    Pablo Reyes
    Jordan Luplow
    Kevin Kramer
    Taylor Gushue
    Brandon Waddell
    Luis Heredia
    Elvis Escobar

    Everyone on this list is to some degree a prospect or else they wouldn't be here. Newman is clearly the best prospect in this group and as last year's 1st round pick is expected to move quickly and could easily be in AA by mid season. Newman is a good contact hitter, who runs well and plays good defense but is lacking power. Kramer is probably the next best prospect in this group and fits a similar mold to Newman except his defense isn't likely good enough to stick at shortstop.

    Moving on down Luplow had a nice season last year at 3B for the Power but will be mvoing primarily to LF this year (with still some time at 3B). He looks like a legit prospect and with a good showing could easily shoot up prospect lists. Brandon Waddell is probably the second best pitching prospect on this team right now and though some will think this as not to complimentary he reminds me a lot of Jeff Locke. He throws in the low 90s, I'm positive the Pirates will work with him to start inducing ground balls and he looks like a potential back of the rotation arm. Pablo Reyes is personally one of my favorites on this team. He is coming off a very strong season last year when he showed good pop for a middle infielder and good speed on the bases. Unfortunately he is behind Kramer and Newman on this team so will be forced into a utility role with some occasional DHing.

    Gushue is coming off a subpar year both offensively and defensively but catchers are a strange breed so its too premature to say much about him. He was a 4th round selection in 2014 so clearly there is some talent there. We all know about Heredia but he is still the second youngest player on the team so its too early to count him out yet. He is moving to the bullpen this season and has shown promising signs in spring training getting his fastball up into the mid 90s and actually being in shape. Escobar was signed the same time as Harold Ramirez and at the time most outsiders thought Escobar was the better prospect (the Pirates actually gave Ramirez the bigger bonus though). He hasn't borken out yet like Ramirez has but also hasn't appeared to be overmatched anywhere. He is the youngest player on the team so there is still plenty of time for him to take that next step and so he'll be a potential breakout candidate to watch this year.
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  3. #3
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    I'll do the same with the Altoona roster that I did with Bradenton. Only here the cut off age is 24 instead of 23.

    25+
    Josh Smith
    Jonathan Schwind
    Chris Diaz
    Brett McKinney
    Stetson Allie
    John Kuchno

    Not exactly a prospect heavy group here. Allie and Kuchno are likely the best two of the bunch. Kuchno is an extreme ground ball pitcher who still has a chance to develop into a Jared Hughes type reliever. Allie remains interesting for one reason and one reason only and that his outstanding power from the right hand side. Allie has some serious contact issues to overcome but that power is tantalizing.

    Of the rest Josh Smith is an upper level guy who is probably only still around because he is left handed. Schwind was originally a catcher but has transitioned into an extra outfielder role and also an extra pitcher role as he was tasked with coming on in relief three times last year. Diaz is a good fielding shortstop who looks like an organizational player but thanks to the JaCoby Jones trade will have one final chance to impress as Altoona's starting shortstop. McKinney had a fairly steady ride through the low minors but got shelled last year after being promoted to Altoona. He has command issues and struggles with left handed batters so he definitely looks like just an org guy.

    24
    Barrett Barnes
    Justin Maffei
    Erich Weiss
    Jared Lakind
    Montana DuRapau
    David Whitehead
    Cody Dickson
    Anderson Feliz
    Jason Creasy

    Barnes is the best prospect in this group and as a former supplemental 1st round pick the talent is clearly there. Unfortunately prior to last year Barnes constantly battled injuries. Barnes did remain healthy last year and had a solid season which he will need to build off of if he wants to regain his former high prospect status. The next best prospect on this list may very well be Montana DuRapau. DuRapau is a relief pitcher who when drafted in the 32nd round of the 2014 draft was just an after thought but he has been tremendous and has quickly worked his way up to AA. He doesn't have excellent stuff but can locate his pitches well and its impossible to argue with his results. Right now he is a legitimate relief pitcher prospect.

    In the next group of prospects is Erich Weiss who has shown solid OBP skills with the Pirates and cut down on his strike outs last year. He doesn't have much power and is limited defensively to 2B and 3B so the offense is going to have to improve for him to remain a prospect.Dickson is next on the pitcher list and is a left handed pitcher who has good stuff (mid 90s fastball, good curve, solid change) but lacks command. There is mid rotation upside in Dickson or he could be a Justin Wilson type reliever for the Pirates if starting proves to not be his thing.

    As for the rest Maffei has performed well but has limited opportunities thanks to the outfielders he has been on the same team with. He has some potential but just needs to carve out a chance for himself. LaKind is a former first baseman whom the Pirates converted to a relief pitcher a few years ago. The transition has went ok but he doesn't seem likely to be more than org depth. Whitehead is the pitcher the Pirates got in return for Charlie Morton. The deal was mostly viewed as a way to shed salary but Whitehead does fit the typical profile of a ground ball pitcher and is going to start the season in the rotation so perhaps the Pirates see something in him. The Pirates signed Anderson Feliz to a minor league contract this offseason. He spent last year in independent ball but prior to that was part of the Yankees organization. He's shown occasional offensive potential but obviously not enough of it. He's going to start the year sharing the shortstop job with Diaz so he'll have a chance to show if the potential is real. Creasy is a pitcher with good command but not good stuff. He doesn't miss enough bats to be effective and isn't even a ground ball heavy pitcher like the Pirates like. It appears he may have topped out at AA last year but he'll give it another go this season.

    23-
    Eric Wood
    Jose Osuna
    Tyler Eppler
    Dovydas Neverauskas
    Jhondaniel Medina
    Clay Holmes
    Jin-De Jhang
    Edwin Espinal
    Harold Ramirez
    Reese McGuire

    McGuire and Ramirez are obviously the big name prospects here. McGuire is a young strong defensive catcher who has good contact skills but hasn't developed much else in terms of his offensive game yet. Ramirez is a contact oriented outfielder with some speed and some ability to play center (though he profiles best in a corner). Ramirez even showed an uptick in power last year which is something he'll need to keep to remain a top prospect.

    Next up on the prospect list is Clay Holmes. Holmes received a big bonus back in 2012 and in 2013 he had a very encouraging season and was looking like a prime breakout candidate in 2014 but unfortunately Tommy John surgery prevented that from happening. The Pirates opted to be real cautious with Holmes last year having him appear only sparingly in Bradenton. Even so he's the top pitching prospect at the AA level. Overlooked as a prospect because of all those in front of him Tyler Eppler is a sneaky good prospect. The Pirates were aggressive with Eppler last year promoting him to A+ and though he wasn't dominate he posted strong results and earned a promotion to AA (it was short and didn't go so well). He has a mid 90s fastball and is definitely one to watch this season.

    Within the position players the next prospects on the list are Jun-De Jhang and Jose Osuna. Jhang is a catcher who is a bit opposite of McGuire as he has shown some good offensive tools to date but his defense still lags a bit behind. Jhang hit well enough last year that he quickly worked his way into being the team's regular DH and I imagine he'll take that duty fairly often again this season. Osuna is a corner player who has a very good approach at the plate but he isn't great defensively in the outfield and doesn't hit for a ton of power. The bat is strong enough to make him intriguing but his defensive shortcomings and lack of top notch power will make it difficult on him to emerge as an MLB regular.

    As for the rest Eric Wood doesn't look like much of a prospect but he is still young and has some power potential. He currently plays 3B but doesn't do so well so he may have to move to 1B and there it seems even more likely his offense won't be enough. Neverauskas is an interesting case as a Lithuanian born pitcher its impossible to know what to expect from him. He has mid 90s stuff, is fairly young and seemed to take very well to the bullpen last year so there may be something here. Medina is an interesting pitcher as he is on the smaller side, struggles with his command, doesn't have plus stuff and has bouts where he misses bats and others where he doesn't but yet he still manages to get people out and post respectable numbers. He doesn't look like a prospect but who knows. Espinal is a 1B who has consistently been young for his level and able to hold his own but at some point just holding his own isn't going to be enough. Hopefully this is the year that finally happens.
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  4. #4
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    Moving on to AAA. The groupings here are slightly different as the middle group covers the ages 25 and 26.

    27+
    Antoan Richardson
    Ed Easley
    Curtis Partch
    Rob Scahill
    Kelvin Marte
    Jorge Rondon
    Jason Rogers
    A.J. Schugel

    These guys are obviously not really prospects but upper level guys who serve a depth role for the major league team. Antoan Richardson is a speedy outfielder with good defense but not much bat. He's a candidate to be a possible pinch runner this September. Ed Easley was signed to be upper level catching depth and will likely fill in at AA or AAA as there is a need. He is probably currently the Pirates 4th catcher so he could conceivably see time in the majors should a couple injuries arise. Partch fits the profile of the type of upper level relievers the Pirates bring in on minor league deals meaning he has good velocity and misses a lot of bats but needs to improve his control to become a major league asset. Scahill is a hard throwing righty who induces a lot of ground balls. He is currently on the 40 man roster so he figures to see some time in the majors this season as bullpen depth.

    Marte is a soft tossing lefty who hasn't had any success above AA so it was a surprise he got an invite to major league camp but regardless he doesn't look like more than organization filler. Rondon is a right handed pitcher that can touch 100 on the radar gun. He has some control problems but his biggest issue is strangely just missing bats. He's an interesting project for the Pirates this year. Rogers is the highest profile player in this group having come over from the Brewers in a trade in the offseason. He is a fairly interesting right handed corner player who should provide the Pirates with some quality bench depth this year before presumably taking a bench spot on a full time basis next season. Schugel doesn't fit the mold of the Pirates typical bullpen depth pitcher as he doesn't induce ground balls nor throw particularly hard. Perhaps they see something in him but its not immediately obvious what that is.

    25-26
    Guido Knudson
    Wilfredo Boscan
    Jacob Stallings
    Danny Ortiz
    Gift Ngoepe
    Mel Rojas Jr.
    Trey Haley
    Dan Gamache

    Knudson is another bullpen depth option who's appeal to the Pirrates isn't really obvious as he doesn't throw real hard (though he does occasionally touch mid 90s) and isn't a ground ball pitcher. I guess the Pirates are just trying trying something different this year with their bullpen depth options. Boscan was called up by the Pirates three times last year but never appeared in a game. It seems unlikely his role will change this year as he'll be an option for the Pirates to call up should they need some length to possibly help spell an overworked bullpen. Ortiz and Rojas will serve as outfield depth for AAA. Ortiz was signed this offseason to give the Pirates some left handed hitting outfield depth and Rojas is a former prospect who last year transitioned into an organizational role. Neither player appears likely to contribute at the major league level this season.

    The remaining players are all prospects to some degree. Stallings and Ngoepe play catcher and shortstop respectively but are both prospects for the same fundamental reason and that is their strong defense. Neither player is a good hitter but both good enough defense that they each could potentially see time in the majors based off essentially that alone. Of the two Ngoepe seems the more likely to see time this season though a couple catcher injuries could put Stallings in line. Gamache is a left handed utility infielder who has shown good offensive skills in the lower levels. To move up the prospect ladder and become someone with a real potential major league future he needs to show he can hit AAA pitching. Haley is your more typical Pirates bullpen depth option as he is capable of hitting triple digits on the radar gun and induces a fair share of ground balls. Obviously he has some control issues or else he would likely be at the back end of a major league pen some where.

    24-
    Jameson Taillon
    Adam Frazier
    Trevor Williams
    Steven Brault
    Josh Bell
    Willy Garcia
    Alen Hanson
    Max Moroff
    Tyler Glasnow

    The entire rotation will eventually fall into this group once Chad Kuhl returns. Not much needs said about Glasnow as he is the Pirates top prospect and one of the best pitching prospects in the game. He is expected to come up and mid season and assume a rotation spot. Taillon is another high end pitching prospect but as you all know he missed the last two seasons so its worth monitoring how he performs this season. He is a potential mid season call up as well. Brault isn't anywhere near as highly regarded as the top two arms but he looks like a quality pitcher who could easily slot into the back of a rotation possibly as early as the middle of this season. He is a left handed pitcher who induces ground balls with his two seam fastball. Brault can also swing the bat a bit and is a good hitter for a pitcher. Finally Williams was acquired by the Pirates this offseason as compensation from the Marlins for signing Benedict. Williams is another ground ball heavy pitcher who has back of the rotation stuff though if he has a future in Pittsburgh it will likely be as a reliever.

    Moving on to the position players Josh Bell is the top dog here. At the AAA level he will be tasked with finally displaying his power and also growing into the 1B position which is still relatively new to him. Willy Garcia is your prototypical right fielder as he has a tremendous arm and good power. Unfortunately he has some serious plate discipline issues as he tends to strike out a lot and not walk all that much.

    The rest of the players are all infielders. Alen Hanson is the most highly regarded of the group and it would appear with a good showing has a path to becoming the Pirates regular 2B some time this season. Moroff is also a second baseman by trade but will be tasked with primarily playing third. He had a breakout season last year but is still behind Hanson on the pecking order, still a strong showing in AAA could have in line for a trip to Pittsburgh as well. Finally there is Adam Frazier who is the best shortstop of the trio but thanks to the crowded infield situation will primarily be playing left field. He is a true utility player who can play all over the field. Moroff and Hanson has some power, with Hanson also having plus speed and while Frazier isn't at their level there he is a good contact hitter and has the look of a future utility player.
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  5. #5
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    Time for the last of the four levels. The West Virginia Power

    23+
    Julio Eusebio
    Logan Ratledge
    Tyler Filliben
    Jake Burnette
    Daniel Arribas
    Tate Scioneaux
    Cesilio Pimentel
    John Bormann
    Daniel Zamora
    Tanner Anderson

    My favorite prospect in this group is by far Tate Scioneaux. Scioneaux has a mid 90s fastball and was dominant in Morgantown last year. I'm rather disappointed the Pirates didn't push him to Bradenton. Outside of him Ratledge could have some ability as he was usually rated as one of the better seniors in last year's draft. He's a middle infielder who profiles best at 2nd base. The Pirates didn't seem in a rush to give him a chance last season though.

    Moving on to the other Eusebio acted as Morgantown's closer last year and had a nice season ramping up the strike outs but his stuff isn't anything special. Burnette is easy to get confused with Brewer as both are projectable right handed pitchers who just simply can't stay on the field. Of the two though Brewer is easily the better prospect as in the little Burnette has pitched he has absolutely no control. Pimentel is a low level left handed pitcher who has shown an ability to strike hitters out. His control comes and goes at times but is generally not too bad. He is a bit of a sleeper here. Zamora was the Pirates last choice in last year's draft but he did have an excellent showing at Morgantown. The stuff just isn't there though as he struggles to touch 90. Anderson was a 20th round pick out of Harvard last year. He pitched most of last year at Bristol where his results were good so it will be interesting to see if he can carry his success over to the higher level.

    Filliben was a 2014 draft pick and is a middle infielder but not a good defensive one. His offensive tools play well for a middle infielder but for the corner player he is likely to become that seems more dubious. Arribas is an interesting one as he is a catcher that the Pirates never committed to catching. That sounds strange but what I mean is he has shown good offensive skill at pretty much every level but the Pirates have consistently given others time over him and have him play not only at catcher but at both infield corners. How he has hit to date makes him interesting to me but the Pirates seem to view him only as an org guy at this point. Bormann is a strong defensive catcher who hasn't shown really anything with the bat.

    22
    Bret Helton
    Ty Moore
    Christian Kelley
    Alfredo Reyes
    Jonathan Brubaker
    Seth McGarry
    Logan Sendelbach
    Mitchell Tolman
    Casey Hughston
    Carlos Munoz

    Looking at the position players first Hughston and Munoz are the best prospects in this group. Hughston was the Pirates third round pick last year and though he had a poor debut in Morgantown he has a nice mix of tools and some power potential. Munoz actually missed the young guys list by just two days so feel free to mentally drop him there if you'd like. Munoz is a great hitter with a superb ability to put bat on ball and started showing some serious power last year in Bristol. Munoz is limited to 1B as he doesn't really look like a baseball player as he is quite stocky and not athletic but regardless its his bat that is going is to carry him as a prospect one way or the other.

    Moore is a corner outfielder who relies on contact skills. He had a nice showing last year at Morgantown but has to prove himself at higher levels to be considered a real prospect. Christian Kelley is likely to receive the bulk of the catching duty to begin the year. When drafted in the 11th round he was considered a quality two way catcher but he struggled with both facets of his game last year. Reyes was taken from the Mets this past year in the minor league portion of the Rule V draft. He seems to have a decent glove and the Pirates were a little light on middle infield depth for the lower levels so he fills that role. Tolman is the best prospect outside of Munoz and Hughston and is yet another draft pick from last year. Tolman is a third baseman by trade who is solid defensively and is a good contact hitter with some gap power. This year though Tolman will be trying his hand at 2B so we will see how that goes.

    Of the pitchers listed here JT Brubaker is the best prospect. Brubaker fits the typical Pirates mold of a tall right handed pitcher who throws in the low 90s and generates a lot of ground balls. McGarry was drafted in the 8th round last year and was immediately anointed as someone who could move quickly through the system as a relief arm. The Pirates saw more though and tried him as a starter but it didn't really work and now he is slated to pitch long relief. McGarry can get his fastball up into the upper 90s and looks like a future middle reliever but he does come with some injury concerns. Sendelbach was the Pirates 10th round pick last year and was assigned to Bristol where he really struggled. Not much about him really stands out but the Pirates must have seen something in him to take him in the 10th round.

    21-
    Ryan Nagle
    Tito Polo
    Dario Agrazal
    Mitch Keller
    Ke'Bryan Hayes

    Hayes and Keller are clearly the cream of the crop here. Hayes was a first round pick last year taken in the supplemental draft and comes from a strong pedigree as his father was a long time MLB third baseman. Hayes is just 19 years old so this a rather challenging assignment for him but he seems rather advanced both offensively and defensively. Keller was the 2nd round draft choice in 2014 and though he hasn't shown much so far the potential is clearly there as Keller has missed quite a few bats in his limited action. The fact the Pirates are starting him in West Virginia instead of having him spend another year in short season ball is a very encouraging sign.

    Nagle was kind of a forgotten man last year as he was the 4th college outfielder drafted by the Pirates so he spent most of his time on the bench but the Pirates did give him an overslot bonus so they clearly saw something with him. This year it looks like he is in line for more regular outfield duty. Polo had a nice showing in rookie ball in 2014 but wasn't able to translate that success over to A ball last year so he finds himself repeating the level. As you can tell by his inclusion in this group that's not really a bad thing though. Polo is a capable center fielder who led the Pirates organization in steals last year and has shown flashes of power. The tools are all there he just has to put it all together. Agrazal had a very nice year in Morgantown last year but as a finesse pitcher he is going to have to prove himself at higher levels.
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  6. #6
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    As one final piece of my minor league preview I'm going to take all 100 players who are on the full season Opening Day rosters and sort them into tiers.

    Prospe
    Over 26: Antoan Richardson, Ed Easley, Jason Rogers
    Over 26: Curtis Partch, Rob Scahill, Kelvin Marte, Jorge Rondon, A.J. Schugel

    - As a general rule of thumb I tend to stop thinking of players as prospects once they reach their age 27 season

    Org Guys: Danny Ortiz, Mel Rojas, Jonathan Schwind, Chris Diaz, Stetson Allie, Tomas Morales, Jeff Roy, Anderson Feliz, Tyler Filliben, Daniel Arribas, John Bormann
    Org Guys: Guido Knudson, Josh Smith, Wilfredo Boscan, Brett McKinney, Nick Neumann, Junior Lopez, Jared LaKind

    - These guys are still technically "prospects" but they seem highly likely to remain career minor leaguers

    Borderline Prospects: Jacob Stallings, Gift Ngoepe, Dan Gamache, Justin Maffei, Erich Weiss, Chase Simpson, Logan Ratledge, Eric Wood, Jerrick Suiter, Ty Moore, Christian Kelley, Alfredo Reyes, Taylor Gushue, Edwin Espinal, Ryan Nagle
    Borderline Prospects: John Kuchno, Sam Street, David Whitehead, Jason Creasy, Julio Eusbio, Jake Burnette, Henry Hirsch, Colten Brewer, Cesillio Pimentel, Dovydas Neverauskas, Miguel Rosario, Jhondaniel Medina, Alex McRae, Daniel Zamora, Tanner Anderson

    - Some of these guys have limited upside and look like potential role players at best, others haven't really established themselves yet and are in need of a big year

    Average Prospects: Michael Suchy, Logan Hill, Pablo Reyes, Mitch Tolman, Casey Hughston, Carlos Munoz, Tito Polo, Elvis Escobar
    Average Prospects: Bret Helton, Logan Sendelbach, Trey Haley, Edgar Santana, Austin Coley, Tate Scioneaux, JT Brubaker, Setch McGarry, Dario Agrazal, Luis Heredia

    - These prospects have shown good qualities and are worth keeping an eye but haven't reached that point where they become truly valuable

    True Prospects: Barrett Barnes, Adam Frazier, Connor Joe, Willy Garcia, Jose Osuna, Max Moroff, Jin-De Jhang, Jordan Luplow, Kevin Kramer
    True Prospects: Trevor Williams, Montana DuRapau, Cody Dickson, Tyler Eppler, Brandon Waddell

    - To me these are the first set of guys I see who hold value and be in demand from teams looking to deal their veterans for prospects.

    Top Prospects: Josh Bell, Alen Hanson, Kevin Newman, Harold Ramirez, Reese McGuire, Ke'Bryan Hayes
    Top Prospects: Steven Brault, Yeudy Garcia, Clay Holmes, Mitch Keller, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow

    - These are prospects who the organization has a real plan for and who would hold a lot of value in trade talks

    - Remember generally speaking a hitting prospect is going to be more valuable than a pitching prospect in the same tier.
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  7. #7
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    I'm usually way wrong on these but just for fun I'm going to pick 2 position players and 2 pitchers per level who I believe are under the radar and ready for a break through season.

    West Virginia Power
    Position Players: Kevin Krause, Ryan Nagle
    Pitchers: Tate Scioneaux, Seth McGarry

    Bradenton Marauders
    Position Players: Connor Joe, Logan Hill
    Pitchers: Edgar Santana, Brandon Waddell

    Altoona Curve
    Position Players: Jin-De Jhang, Justin Maffei
    Pitchers: Cody Dickson, Dovydas Neverauskas

    Indianapolis Indians
    Position Players: Adam Frazier, Jacob Stallings
    Pitchers: Robert Zarate, Trey Haley

    To amp it up even more Connor Joe is my choice for breakout position player and Cody Dickson my choice for breakout pitcher.

    Feel free to refer back to this and mock me in 5 months when both players perform so poorly they are replaced in the lineup and rotation.
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  8. #8
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    I was at the Curve game yesterday and the player who most stood out to me was surprisingly Anderson Feliz. I had assumed he was a glove guy but his approach at the plate was far better than I had expected and I have since seen comments saying the same thing about him in Spring Training. The guy was signed out of an independent league so don't read too much into this but at 24 he isn't too old for the level and given his approach he is a rather interesting player to follow this season.
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    Jameson Taillon is finally set to make his return to organized baseball tonight when he makes a start for Indianapolis Indians.
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  10. #10
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    Its too early to start reading anything into minor league stats but I will say the Bradenton Marauders are off to a horrible start offensively. Now batting average is an empty stat which typically needs some context to have real meaning but the Marauders as a team are hitting .189. Only 5 of the 13 players are above the Mendoza line (.200) and only one player is hitting better than .300.

    The FSL does suppress offense but what the Marauders have done so far is just ridiculous.
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  11. #11
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    Its still too early to really pay much attention to any stats down in the minor leagues but I figured now was as good as time as any for my first run through a team. Today I have chosen to focus on the West Virginia Power. First a quick disclaimer there is a discrepancy for a few players for PA between baseball reference and fangraphs. The difference is small and the concept here is not exact stats anyway so I'm going to mostly ignore that fact and trudge on.

    First the "typical" starters for the Power appear to be something like:

    C: Christian Kelley
    1B: Carloz Munoz
    2B: Mitch Tolman
    3B: Ke'Bryan Hayes
    SS: Alfredo Reyes
    LF: Casey Hughston
    CF: Tito Polo
    RF: Ryan Nagle
    DH: Daniel Arribas

    This isn't meant to be an all encompassing look at the team so I'll just give a few observations.

    In addition to those nine players Ty Moore is receiving ample time as a 4th outfielder. The other three reserves Bormann, Filliben and Ratledge have so far been used as more traditional reserves with only minimal playing time.

    Nagle and Arribas (Nagle was just last year, Arribas has been a couple of years) so far in their career's haven't been given an extended shot to perform but have looked solid in what opportunity they did receive. Early on its looking as both will get a chance to prove themselves. Arribas who had served as a catcher and corner infielder appears to be primarily a DH and reserve 1B now. Neither player is off to a great start but both have solid K and BB numbers which show they aren't overmatched.

    Kelley, Tolman, Hughston and Moore were all college players taken within the first 12 rounds of last year's draft. Kelley struggled last year both offensively and defensively and so far this year has been more of the same. Tolman was solid last year but was tasked with moving from 3B to 2B this year. His numbers aren't the greatest so far this season but he is walking more than he is striking out so that's a positive sign. Hughston has the highest upside of the group but has some serious contact issues to work on and so far things aren't looking great with him striking out more than a third of the time. Moore isn't in a starter's role per se but has received significantly more playing time than the other reserves. He currently has the rare feat of having a batting average higher than his OBP which is usually not a great sign and this isn't an exception.

    Munoz came out of no where last season and emerged on the prospect map. He has some great contact skills and is currently walking twice as often as he is striking out. However Munoz's build gives him little defensive value and limits him to 1B so the power he displayed last year will have to continue to show itself and so far that hasn't happened. Alfred Reyes is a player who most probably don't know as he was a minor league Rule V pick by the Pirates this offseason. There really isn't a shortstop prospect ready for A ball so he is filling in there and doing a decent job thus far but is striking out too much for a player of his offensive profile.

    Finally we have the two youngest position players in Tito Polo and Ke'Bryan Hayes (though in fairness Nagle isn't that much older than Polo). Polo and Hayes are off to the best start of the position players with Hayes garnering some early praise for how well he is adjusting to full season ball as a 19 year old. Polo is 21 and is repeating the level so his performance is not nearly as impressive but its still great to see as he is underrated outfield prospect in the Pirates system.

    None of the other three bench players have even received 20 PA thus far but for what it is worth Bormann, who has a rep of a strong defensive catcher with a weak bat, is hitting quite well over his 12 PA.

    Now on to the pitching

    SP: Logan Sendelbach
    SP: JT Brubaker
    SP: Mitch Keller
    SP: Bret Helton
    SP: Dario Agrazal

    RP: Tate Scioneaux
    RP: Tanner Anderson
    RP: Seth McGarry
    RP: Julio Eusebio
    RP: Daniel Zamora
    RP: Jake Burnette

    Eric Karch, Cesilio Pimentel and even reserve infielder Logan Ratledge have also pitched for the Power but each has less than 5 innings so I'll ignore them for now.

    I often lump Sendelbach and Helton together as each were selected in back to back rounds last year (9th and 10th) and are similar pitchers style wise. Both have posted solid results so far this season but Sendelbach has missed very few bats and Helton has been merely average in that department.

    Agrazal and Brubaker are two more pitchers I lump together as both were successful last year in Morgantown by walking very few people while not striking out many. Agrazal has continued that same trend this year but hasn't seen success where Brubaker has found his strike out pitch compiling 18 in just 16 innings of work. He has been quite impressive thus far.

    The top pitching prospect in the rotation Mitch Keller is making an aggressive jump after barely playing last year in Bristol. Through two starts he is showing us what the Pirates seen as he has struck out 13 in 10 innings while having yet to allow a run or issue a walk. Keller definitely has the look of a breakout guy early on.

    Moving on to the bullpen we have Tate Scioneaux who was my top pick for a breakout pitcher at this level and so far things have been great. He has appeared in 5 games pitching 12 innings and has 17 strike outs to 4 walks all while having allowed just one lone run.

    The rest of the bullpen has been used much more sparingly. Tanner Anderson has thrown 9 innings and while the results are superficially good he has walked more people than he has struck out which is never a good sign. Daniel Zamora was taken in the last round of last year's draft and while he doesn't have great stuff he has managed to rack up good strike out numbers both last year and in college and the trend continues this year though he has shown some control issues early on.

    When drafted McGarry was viewed as someone who could move through the system quickly as a relief pitcher but the Pirates tried him as a starter but have moved him to a long relief role this season. He hasn't pitched much yet but his performance thus far has been fine. Jake Burnette's goal is to probably just stay healthy and throw strikes this year and so far he is off to a good start in a limited sample. Eusebio came out of nowhere in 2014 as he was a player who wasn't originally listed in the Pirates 2014 media guide. So far this season his results have been mixed as he hasn't been scored upon but like Anderson has walked more guys than he has struck out.
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  12. #12
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    Austin Meadows is set to return to Altoona tonight and make his season debut. Hopefully Tucker and Tarpley aren't too far behind (though they won't be going to AA of course).
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  13. #13
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    Tate Scioneaux and Edgar Santana have recently been pushed up to A+ and AA respectively. They are two of the better relief pitching prospects in the Pirates system so it will be interesting to see how they perform.
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  14. #14
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    With the off day I thought I'd take a look at the minor league performance to date. Nothing too heavy today as I am going to choose a surprise and disappointing position player and pitcher from each of the 4 levels.

    A: West Virginia Power
    Surprise: Daniel Arribas, Mitch Keller
    Disappointment: Casey Hughston, Bret Helton

    Arribas has hit fairly well everywhere he has played so maybe it shouldn't be too surprising to see him continue to do well but he is absolutely stinging the ball with a .216 ISO and has been taking playing time away from Munoz at 1B. Keller has just been on a different planet so far striking out a mind boggling 14 times more batters than he has walked. He's a good pitching prospect but that is insane.

    Hughston continues to show he has serious contact issues and is currently striking out 36% of the time and he isn't doing much when he does actual manage to put the ball in play as he has a .066 ISO and .210 BABIP. No one on the Power pitching staff has been a major disappointment but Helton was taken within the top 10 rounds last year and so far he hasn't shown much command nor plus stuff. You would expect him to be doing at least fairly well in A ball but he is struggling so far.

    A+: Bradenton Marauders
    Surprise: Kevin Newman, Brandon Waddell
    Disappointment: Logan Hill, Alex McRae

    Newman and Waddell performing well really isn't a surprise but to the level they have done is. Newman is barely striking out at all and it appears he isn't even being challenged right now. Waddell dominated to such an extent that the Pirates gave him a very quick push up to AA. These two were placed at what appeared to be a fairly appropriate level for them and have just dominated the competition which is something very nice to see.

    Perhaps its not fair to call last year's 25th round pick a disappointment but after what he showed in short season ball last year, Hill's inability to even earn at bats is quite frustrating. Hill has done little in the limited opportunity he has received and is quickly looking like he is going to get buried on the prospect depth chart. McRae didn't show much in West Virginia last year so perhaps little should of been expected of him but like Helton its still disappointing to see a recent player taken in the 10 rounds of a draft struggling to really show any potential.

    AA: Altoona Curve
    Surprise: Anderson Feliz, Frank Duncan
    Disappointment: Barrett Barnes, Cody Dickson

    Feliz was signed out of an independent league this offseason and honestly I didn't expect much but every time I saw him I have came away impressed by his approach at the plate. Feliz is a legitimately good hitter who can play a solid 2B but is probably a bit stretched at shortstop. He still probably isn't more than upper level depth but he is much more than I ever expected him to be. Duncan was a late add to the AA staff but was so impressive he was chosen to go to AAA and fill in for a few starts while Trevor Williams works his way back. This is another guy who probably isn't much of a prospect but like Feliz he is a much better player than I thought he could be when the Pirates first acquired him.

    Austin Meadows has been absolutely dreadful but that comes in a limited sample plus I'm willing to give him a bit of a pass due to his eye injury. Barnes on the other hand has no such excuses and is showing little thus far in AA. He has some upside but he needs to put it all together some time soon. Dickson is a lot like Barnes in that he has the tools to be successful but still hasn't actually put it all together yet. A left handed pitcher capable of throwing in the mid 90s is nice but the control isn't there for him to be successful.

    AAA: Indianapolis Indians
    Surprise: Adam Frazier, Jameson Taillon
    Disappointment: Willy Garcia, Trey Haley

    Adam Frazier has responded well to the jump to AAA and seems to be holding his own as a regular LF (even though he is best suited for 2B). I actually didn't expect him to handle the jump so well and thought he'd be exposed in the OF making him a very nice surprise. The entire Indians rotation has been outstanding so far this season so its tough to pick just one guy but for me Taillion coming back and dominating as quickly as he has is a bit of a shock. I expected his to pitch well in AAA at some point but not quite this soon.

    Garcia has hit decently but he is repeating the AAA level and has shown little improvement with his plate discipline as he is still striking out roughly 30% of the time. A better approach could really do him well. The bullpen for the Indians has been a bit of a disappointment but most guys have at least been respectable. Haley though has been awful walking more guys then he has struck out and currently supporting an ERA over 10.
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  15. #15
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    I haven't posted it in here yet but Steven Brault is going to miss the next 6-8 weeks due to a hamstring injury. He wasn't high up the Pirates list of starting pitchers for this year but he was certainly on it. Trevor Williams will be back soon and will take his spot meaning Wilfredo Boscan will likely retain his spot (unless Lobstein assumes it)
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