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  1. #1
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    Minor League Discussion

    As part of my post a day plan I'm going to do a bit of minor league discussion. The focus of each post is always going to be small as to keep the posts short and eventually I hope to assemble a top 30 prospect list but that won't be for a while.

    Today I will start by looking at the catchers who played for the Pirates full season affiliates.

    AAA: Indianapolis Indians
    Jacob Stallings, Ryan Lavarnway, Jackson Williams

    No actual prospects in this group. Stallings is a defense first catcher who has shown a bit of promise with the bat lately and has developed into an excellent third catcher. However he is out of options and will have to make a roster that at the moment doesn't appear to have a spot for him. Lavarnway and Williams were both minor league free agent signings that provided depth at the top of the system. Lavarnway had a good year and was rewarded with a September call up but has since signed with the Yankees. Williams was used when needed in both AA and AAA and is a candidate to return next year again as a depth option.

    AA: Altoona Curve
    Christian Kelley, Jin-De Jhang, Arden Pabst, Jackson Williams

    Kelley is probably the top catching prospect in the system but catcher is a weak position for the Pirates so that isn't to be taken as high praise. He is another glove first catcher who has started to show just a touch of promise with the bat. The Pirates have thought highly enough of him to invite him to Spring Training the last two years. He is Rule V eligible but likely won't be added but barring something unforeseen he should be the regular catcher for AAA next season.
    Jhang has long been an interesting catching option because he is a good contact hitter and has continually been improving defensively. He is not the most athletic of players and has little to no power so his upside is limited. He is a minor league free agent and we will have to see if he returns. Pabst played only briefly in AA so Iíll discuss him below and of course Williams has already been covered as an upper level fill in option.

    A+: Bradenton Marauders
    Jason Delay, Arden Pabst, John Bormann, Hunter Owen
    The Pirates have an annual tradition of taking a defense first catcher fairly early in the draft to help with their young pitchers. However in 2016 they took two and those two, Delay and Pabst, and they split time manning the catching position for the Marauders. Pabst is probably the better prospect of the two and hit really well which is what earned him the promotion to AA. If he can carry over the offensive improvement he will immediately become the top catching prospect in the system. Delay is your prototypical glove first catcher who doesnít hit much but sticks around because teams always need catchers.

    Bormann of the midnight ride to Miami fame essentially was the A and A+ version of Jackson Williams playing where necessary but usually not being on either roster. He is another glove first guy. Owen will be covered at the third base position as that is his primary position but this year the Pirates started having him catch on occasion but this doesnít seem to be a regular thing and is more something for him to add to his tool box.

    A: West Virginia Power
    Deon Stafford, Raul Hernandez, Rafelin Lorenzo, John Bormann, Jesse Medrano
    Stafford is currently the Pirates best bet for an offense first catcher prospect. He has an interesting bat and has shown power in the past but his defense needs some work and he seems particularly bad at controlling the running game. Still due to the Pirates lack of catching depth he is an interesting one to watch.

    Hernandez has on occasion looked somewhat interesting but the Pirates donít treat him as a real prospect and instead move him around as necessary so he is just an organizational player. Lorenzo looked like an interesting prospect down in the DSL but didnít show much in the states but last year when not injured he did hit very well but that was a small sample and shouldnít be read much into.

    Bormann has already been discussed and Medrano is essentially this levelís Hunter Owen so he will be discussed at his real position of third base.

    Top 5 Prospects
    Christian Kelley
    Arden Pabst
    Deon Stafford
    Rafelin Lorenzo
    Jason Delay
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  2. #2
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    Today we will move on to first base.

    AAA
    Wyatt Mathisen, Erich Weiss, Jose Osuna, Eric Wood, Jerrick Suiter

    This is an odd assortment of players none of whom are really what you would call prospects. In fact currently Mathisen, Wood and Suiter are out of the organization and very well may not return next year. Mathisen was an interesting high school catcher when he was drafted but he moved off the position and hasn't really been interesting since. Weiss is still in the organization (and on a personal note is one of my favorites thanks to his awesome name) but is just an upper level organizational infielder. Wood is corner infielder with good power and has made progress defensively but he was always just ok overall offensively. Suiter is your typical bat first 1B/OF minor league type. He hits decently but not great and struggles defensively (though he is decent at 1B). Of the 4 only Mathisen ever was a legitimately interesting prospect and that was basically back when he was a catcher.

    The one name I haven't talked about is Osuna and that is because unlike the others he was an interesting prospect who has made the majors and now looks like a realistic bench option. He plays 1B well and can fake it at 3B or a corner outfield position. Its questionable whether or not there will be a spot for him on the Opening Day roster but he still has an option remaining so he'd back a nice AAA depth piece.

    AA
    Will Craig, Jordan George, Wyatt Mathisen

    Craig is the best 1B prospect in the system but again that isn't saying much. This past year he finally started to show some good power but it came at the expense of his plate discipline as his strike outs rose and walks decreased. He was a third baseman but moved off the position due to poor defense and its unclear if his bat is good enough to carry him as a 1B. Still he looks like he probably could make a decent right handed platoon bat for 1B and while that isn't what you want from a former first round pick that is at least something. As an aside I often wondered how he could handle the outfield. He used to pitch in college and has by all accounts a very good arm and he did some work last offseason to get in better shape so it doesn't seem impossible he could fake it out there decently. His upside appears to be a slightly better version of Osuna.

    George is the same type of player as Suiter who I discussed earlier. A bat first 1B/OF type who hits decently but not well enough to overcome his defensive short comings. Obviously Mathisen was discussed up above.

    A+
    Albert Baur, Lucas Tancas

    As has been a running theme so far neither of these two are really all that interesting. Baur was drafted back in 2015 as a 5th year senior meaning he was among the oldest players in the class and the Pirates haven't exactly rushed him through the system. He has hit ok at every level but has consistently been at least 2 to 3 years older than most of the legitimate prospects at the level. At this point he is just an organizational guy but the Pirates have no obvious candidate to play 1B in AA next year so he might get a lot of playing time.

    Tancas is a similar story to Baur as he was an older draft pick in 2017 but he unlike Baur has at least been pushed somewhat quickly as evidenced by the fact they are at the same level despite being drafted two years apart. He had a very rough season and did not look ready for A+ ball at all. He does play a bit of outfield as well and will likely return to A+ next year in a similar role but he really isn't a prospect at this point.

    A
    Kyle Watson, Mason Martin, Ben Bengston, Luke Mangieri

    Once again just not much of interest here. Watson was a late round draft pick in 2017 but the Pirates have given him a fair amount of playing time. He played a bit of short in 2017 but was pretty bad there and is now primarily a non-shortstop infielder moving around between the other three positions. He hasn't really shown much of anything so far and looks like he is just another organizational depth type guy. Bengston is a corner infielder who has spent most of his time at third base so I'll cover him there. Mangieri was called up at the end of the year and played very briefly. He did next to nothing with the bat and looks like yet another org guy.

    Martin is the one interesting guy here. He was a 19 year old with a ton of power which is a very rare combination. He was coming off an excellent debut in rookie ball in 2017 but was clearly overmatched in full season ball and was demoted mid season. The power is tantalizing and the fact that he is still very young means he can't be written off but he'll need to show significant improvement soon.

    Top 3 Prospects
    Will Craig
    Mason Martin
    Jordan George
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  3. #3
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    Today we'll move on to second base.

    AAA
    Kevin Kramer, Kevin Newman, Adam Frazier, Max Moroff, Pablo Reyes

    All players who saw time in the majors last season. Kramer probably has the highest offensive upside of the 5 players lasted but he has some strikeout issues he needs to fix. He definitely has some good power though and if he can cut down his strike outs just a little he has the makings of a nice second baseman. The Pirates also see him as someone who can play third base but they don't seem too high on his shortstop ability. Newman is more of a shortstop than a second baseman so we will get him later but he is kind of the opposite of Kramer. A contact oriented guy who plays a solid shortstop.

    Frazier is the most established of this group and seems likely to begin the year as the Pirates regular second baseman. At the end of the season Frazier's defense looked much improved from where it had been and he even showed a bit of power this year so his offensive upside is probably not much lower than Kramer's and he likely has a much higher floor. He looks like a good utility player but the potential is there for him to be a solid regular. We should find out this upcoming season.

    Moroff is no longer in the system so I won't dwell on him much but he is a very patient hitter (some time too patient) who has a bit of pop in his bat. He seems to play 2B, 3B and SS fine but his big draw back has been his inability to hit major league pitching. He was out of options (at least I think so there are some conflicting reports on that) so moving on made sense. Reyes came up late in the year and impressed in a utility role. He doesn't seem to do anything great but has always produced for the Pirates so it was good to see him have some MLB success. Right now he appears to have the inside track to a bench job but we will have to see how the offseason progresses.

    AA
    Stephen Alemais, Logan Ratledge, Alfredo Reyes

    Alemais is probably the best defensive shortstop in the Pirates system but the presence of Cole Tucker shifted him over to second base last year. He is a great athletic defender but he can't really hit. At the plate he hits for very little power and focuses on making contact. It is worth pointing out that this past year he did a pretty good job of drawing walks. Ratledge and Reyes are just organizational guys who fill in bench roles at the upper levels. They played pretty much wherever they were needed and Ratledge even appeared on the mound a couple of times. At the moment Reyes is set to return but Ratledge is a minor league free agent whom will likely have to start his life's work.

    A+
    Mitch Tolman, Alfredo Reyes, Trae Arbet, Brett Pope

    Tolman got off to a late start last year due to a suspension. He ended up repeating the A+ level and performed more or less the same as the year before. He is a decent defender at 2B and can also play third base but he isn't a stand out at either position and his bat is just ok. He hasn't transitioned to org guy quite yet but very well could this year. Looking at the Pirates options I imagine he'll get one last shot as the regular 2B at AA to begin the season.

    Reyes we discussed above and he will return this year in a similar role. Arbet at one point was a fairly interesting middle infield prospect but he has just not been able to stay healthy. He had one good season back in 2015 but since then he missed basically all of 2016 and 2018 and was just ok in 2017. The Pirates released him earlier this offseason. Pope can play all over the infield and has shown good patience at the plate. He has very little power though. As a late round college selection in 2017 Pope appeared likely to be just a depth guy unless he impressed early on and he hasn't so it looks like that is where he is now.

    A
    Rodolfo Castro, Robbie Glendinning, Jesse Medrano, Brett Pope

    Castro had an impressive showing in rookie ball back in 2017 and the Pirates aggressively pushed him to A ball this year. He struggled this year but as a 19 year old his performance was respectable. He is a shortstop but moved to 2B for Cruz. Its questionable whether he can stick at shortstop but he should be fine at second base. He has shown a bit of pop hitting 12 homers this so his bat is interesting for a middle infielder. He is a young raw player but he is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

    Glendinning struggled last year in his transition to pro ball and got off to a rough start this year but finished the year strong. He was a college draft pick so he won't have much time to stand out but his second half performance this year was encouraging. He probably won't have a starting role this upcoming season but should be one of the top guys off the bench. Medrano was a senior sign in 2017 and hasn't shown much thus far which means he like Pope who is also on this list are likely just low level org guys.

    Top 5 Prospects
    Kevin Kramer
    Pablo Reyes
    Rodolfo Castro
    Stephen Alemais
    Mitch Tolman

    *Kevin Newman will be considered with the shortstops
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  4. #4
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    I didn't have an internet connection for most of the day yesterday so no post but today I'll do two short ones.

    First in here is just a link to the Fangraphs Top 35 Pirates Prospects. Its exceptionally well done.

    Of particular interest to me was their write up on Cruz, Thomas and Pie. The Cruz write up has me feeling more excited about a Pirates prospect than I have in a long time. The odd 6' 7" shortstop is something else and the fact some scouts think he can stick is incredible. Thomas was part of the Luplow trade and seeing how high they appear to be on him makes me like that trade a little bit more. Finally Pie was the big IFA from last year so any additional info about him is always appreciated.
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  5. #5
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    Today I'll finally continue this series with third base.

    AAA
    Jose Osuna, Pablo Reyes, Kevin Kramer, Max Moroff, Wyatt Mathisen, Eric Wood

    The Pirates used third base at the AAA level as a way to get playing time for people who would normal play at more crowded positions. None of these guys are really a third base prospect. Moroff, Mathisen and Wood are no longer with the team so I won't spend any more time on them. Osuna is of course a major league depth piece and the Pirates tried him out at third base to give him more versatility. He seemed to handle the position ok but with the return of Kang his usefulness there seems limited. Reyes plays third base well and seems in line for a super utility role with the Pirates. He plays a fine third base and some even consider it his best position. Kramer is probably the only guy listed who may have some sort of future at third base. He can play second and third and has potential with his bat meaning he may hit well enough to be a solid starter at either position depending on where the Pirates have a need.

    AA
    Ke'Bryan Hayes, Jordan George, Alfredo Reyes

    Not much to talk about here with regards to the reserves. Reyes is an organizational player who was resigned this offseason and he'll play at whatever position and whatever level he is needed at. George is a decent but not great hitter who doesn't really have a position and the Pirates have him play a bit of third just to get him some playing time.

    The player who took the lion's share of time at third is Hayes who is the Pirates top position player prospect and has a strong case of being their best prospect overall. He is a strong defender who could probably handle short if the Pirates wanted to try him there but in lieu of that he has the ability to be a gold glove candidate at third base. At the plate he shows good plate discipline and the ability to hit to all fields but so far he hasn't shown a lot of power which is what is keeping him from elite prospect status. Still Hayes looks like he'll be a strong starter and he'll likely start this season at AAA so he could help out the major league club at some point this season.

    A+
    Hunter Owen, Brett Pope, Alfredo Reyes

    Pope and Reyes have already been discussed in a lot of sections. They are org guys who will play wherever needed and would need to really show something before they would be considered prospects. Owen is the semi interesting guy here. Owen has some good power and an odd knack for getting hit by pitches and his defense at third base is decent enough. However Owen is a very impatient hitter and strikes out a lot while walking very little. He has produced fairly good numbers the last two years but has been old for the level he was playing at. As I mentioned in the first part of this series the Pirates started trying him out at catcher some this year and while he didn't play much having that on his resume could be a nice help for him moving forward. Owen seems likely to be the regular third baseman at AA in 2019.

    A
    Ben Bengston, Jesse Medrano, Dylan Busby, Brett Pope, Robbie Glendinning

    Bengston started the year as a backup but became the regular third base due to injuries. He seems to have an interesting skill set as he has the defensive ability to stick at third plus some power but he showed very little last year and seems to be on his way to becoming an organizational guy. He'll have to turn it around quickly. Busby is the other interesting guy here and was in line to be the regular third baseman before injuries forced the issue. He was a fairly high college pick back in 2017 and though he struggled in his pro debut he was showing some positive signs last year before getting injured. He has good power and can probably stick at third base but so far he has shown some serious contact issues. He'll likely get a crack as the regular 3B in A+ next year and it will be a big season for him. Medrano, Pope and Glendinning have all been covered before and they are minor league utility players.

    Top 5 Prospects
    Ke'Bryan Hayes
    Dylan Busby
    Hunter Owen
    Ben Bengston
    Jesse Medrano

    Kramer and Reyes were listed at second base so I opted not to include them here.
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  6. #6
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    Today we round out the infield with the shortstop position.

    AAA
    Kevin Newman, Max Moroff, Kevin Kramer, Pablo Reyes

    As of now Newman is seemingly in line for a spot on the Pirates Opening Day roster and may even get a chance as the regular shortstop. He will never be seen as an elite defender at short but he plays the position well enough. The real issue with him is if he will manage to hit enough. To date he has shown very little in the way of power and though he keeps his strike outs down he doesn't walk much either instead he ends up putting a lot of balls in play but hit without much authority. He is essentially your old fashioned slap hitter which teams used to sit atop their lineups but in this day and age that probably isn't enough.

    The rest of the crew has already been covered elsewhere. Moroff looks likely to take up a utility infield job with the Indians. Kramer seems destined to head back to AAA where by current appearances he'll be the regular second baseman but I'm guessing he will also be the firs infielder called up if a need arises. Reyes of course can play a bit of everywhere and seems poised to take over Sean Rodriguez's old role of the guy who will play everywhere including center field and shortstop.

    AA
    Cole Tucker, Stephen Alemais

    Tucker is the Pirates top shortstop prospect and probably their best hope for a long term solution to the position. Currently though Tucker seems rather similar to Newman as he will no doubt be able to handle the position defensively but the bat remains questionable. That isn't an exact comparison of course as Tucker is a more patient hitter and both walks and strike out more often than Newman but the main concern about both is whether they will hit for enough power. Tucker does have one thing going for him though and that is his age as he is three years younger than Newman and is at a point where some power developing wouldn't be a shocking surprise. Tucker seems likely to be the regular shortstop in AAA and if he shows improvement with the bat and a shortstop is needed in the majors he could be up midseason.

    Alemais was discussed at second base but it is worth repeating that he is likely the Pirates best defensive shortstop but he has even more questions about his bat than Newman and Tucker do. Still his defensive prowess is probably enough to get him to the majors some day. With Kramer looking like he'll take second in AAA it will be interesting to see what the Pirates do with him.

    A+
    Adrian Valerio, Alfredo Reyes, Brett Pope

    I'm tired of talking about Reyes and Pope so I'll focus on Valerio. Keeping with the theme of comparing the Pirates shortstops to other Pirates shortstops Valerio is a lot like a younger rawer Alemais. He has a very strong glove though he seems to be somewhat inconsistent with it and at the plate he has yet to show much of anything. He did have a promising showing in 2017 but didn't build off it this past season. He'll only be 22 next year so like Tucker it shouldn't be assumed he is finished developing but it is quickly getting to the point where he is going to need to show something with the bat in order to keep being considered a notable prospect.

    A
    Oneil Cruz, Connor Kaiser

    Ah Cruz the most interesting prospect in the Pirates system. The huge 6' 7" shortstop with the rocket arm and immense raw power. No one really knows what to make of him as I've seen scout reports that think anything from he'll end up at 1B or a corner outfield spot to he'll have little trouble at third base to he'll be a good center fielder to even a few who think he might be able to stick at short as ludicrous as that sounds. Cruz has the highest upside of anyone in the Pirates system but he also comes with a lot of risk for a player that seems so talented. Strike outs and the inability to find a defensive home could easily get the best of him but his power and the possibility he could stick at a premium defensive position could make him a corner stone for the Pirates to build around. He is just fascinating and is the prospect that probably deserves following the most in the system this upcoming season.

    Kaiser was drafted this past year by the Pirates and finished out the season playing shortstop once Cruz went down with a minor injury. Selected in the third round he is a legitimate prospect but a much more traditional one than Cruz. At 6' 4" tall he is a big shortstop himself but he plays the position well and seems like he'll be able to handle the position defensively. Offensively he has a bit of power but is more a disciplined hitter who will work the count.

    Top 5 Prospects
    Cole Tucker
    Oneil Cruz
    Kevin Newman
    Connor Kaiser
    Adrian Valerio
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  7. #7
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    I had given some consideration to splitting the outfielders up into corner outfielders and center fielders but I decided to scrap that and just go with all outfielders at once. I have decided to only players with at least 20 games played in the outfield (before I included everyone unless there was a bunch then I cut off the ones with only a game or two.

    AAA
    Jordan Luplow, Chris Bostick, Jason Martin, Pablo Reyes, Jerrick Suiter, Eric Wood, Austin Meadows

    Well this list has thinner out a lot. Luplow, Bostick and Meadows have all been traded within the last 6 months or so. Wood is a corner utility player who is currently a minor league free agent who probably won't return. Suiter is a lot like Wood except he hasn't played third base and is currently under contract with the Pirates. Pablo Reyes has been discussed at length at various infield positions so I won't bother covering him here.

    Martin is the most interesting name here and was just added to the 40 man a few days ago. He had a very nice showing in AA before struggling with his jump to AAA. He can handle center field fine but his defense there isn't good enough to be an asset. He probably profiles best as a corner outfielder but its questionable whether he has enough bat to be a plus there so he looks more or less like a potential fourth outfielder. He'll be one of the regular outfielders at AAA and with him likely being the only one actually on the 40 man roster it seems likely he'd be the first one called up should a need arise so his chances of seeing the majors this year is high.

    AA
    Logan Hill, Bryan Reynolds, Jason Martin, Bralin Jackson, Tyler Gaffney, Jordan George, Elvis Escobar

    Martin was covered up above so I won't rehash anything here. George is another corner utility player who will backup first, third and the corner outfield spots. Escobar is kind of interesting but I'm going to skip him because he isn't interesting as an outfielder but rather as a pitcher. After failing one last time and impressing in a garbage time pitching outing the Pirates opted to try Escobar out on the mound and so far it looks fairly promising.

    Jackson was signed out of independent ball last year to give the Pirates a little extra upper level outfield depth and that is the role he will continue in. Gaffney left the Pirates to play college football then was drafted into the NFL and then after a couple years decided to come back to baseball. Gaffney struggled in AA but with such a long layoff that isn't too much of a surprise. He showed some promise before leaving for football so anything is possible but I wouldn't be expecting a lot from him going forward.

    Hill doesn't play defense well, is slow on the bases, has contact issues and is probably too old to really be considered a prospect. Yet he remains mildly interesting for one reason and that is power. He has hit for a good bit of power ever since arriving in the Pirates system but so far that is all he really has going for him and that just isn't enough. Reynolds was the prospect acquired for Andrew McCutchen and he got off to a great start before suffering a hammate injury. Even with that set back he had a fairly strong year and looks like one of the Pirates better outfield prospects. He'll likely be in AAA and will probably split time in center field with Martin.

    A+
    Casey Hughston, Jared Oliva, Bligh Madris, Garrett Brown, Tyler Gaffney, Lucas Tancas

    Gaffney was covered up above and Tancas is a 1B/OF type who was covered at first base. Brown is an all speed player who has recently been released. Hughston has long been at least to me a fascinating prospect. He has good power, good speed and plays a strong center field. That is the recipe for a very good prospect and yet he isn't because simply put he is just absolutely terrible at making contact. He has a big hole in his swing and consistently strikes out 35% of the time and even with all his positives you simply can't overcome something like that.

    Madris was a bit of a sleeper coming into the this past season but he had a very disappointing season. He put up some big college numbers but was in a high offensive environment. Defensively he is fine in a corner but he is going to need his bat to carry him. He still remains moderately interesting but the rough year has taken away most of what little shine he had. Olivia is clearly the best prospect here. As is fairly common with highly drafted college players the Pirates skipped him past A ball and he had a nice debut in full season ball. He has good speed and appears to handle center well and this year he showed an increase of power. He did seem to tire out down the stretch but all and all it was a good year and will likely land him the starting CF job in AA.

    A
    Call Mitchell, Lolo Sanchez, Chris Sharpe, Ryan Peurifoy, Fabricio Macias

    Mitchell was taken in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft and has been fairly impressive so far. He is a bat first prospect who doesn't provide much defensive value so it will be necessary for his bat to carry him. Early on he was probably the Pirates top breakout prospect but he like Oliva fell off during the stretch run. Sanchez was probably the most popular pick to be the Pirates breakout prospect in 2018 and while that didn't happen he did hold his own for a 19 year old in full season ball which is itself a positive sign. He is speedy outfielder who plays good defense in center field. His plate discipline has been rather good but he is going to have to show an improvement in his power. He'll likely move up to the A+ but due to the presence of Swaggerty he'll likely mainly move off of center field.

    The rest of the outfielders aren't as interesting. Sharpe is an outfielder with good raw power but he hasn't showed it in games and strikes out too much though he does also walk a fair amount. A broken hand cost him basically half of the 2018 season so his progress was limited. Macias was an interesting signing out of the Mexican league but it took him a while to get started as MLB was delaying approving contracts from Mexico. When he finally joined the Pirates he hit well in short season but struggled when he moved up to A ball. He remains interesting but will need to make some strides forward this year. Peurifoy looks like a backup lower level outfielder and will continue in that role.

    Top 10 Prospects
    Cal Mitchell
    Lolo Sanchez
    Bryan Reynolds
    Jared Oliva
    Jason Martin
    Fabricio Macias
    Chris Sharpe
    Bligh Madris
    Logan Hill
    Tyler Gaffney
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  8. #8
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    Today we move on to the short season position players. Unlike their full season counter parts I'm not going to try and discuss all of them. I'm just going to highlight the more interesting names here. We'll do catcher today and move around the diamond as we continue.

    Grant Koch: Taken in the 5th round of this past draft Koch isn't the Pirates annual defense first catcher pick. He has some potential with the bat and is graded as having average power which is good for a catcher. Behind the plate his skills seem ok but he definitely isn't a standout back there. His poor debut was rough though as he didn't hit much and struggled with blocking pitches. I'm guessing he'll be the regular catcher in A ball next year.

    Zac Susi: Susi was taken in the 12th round and is closer to the Pirates mold of defense first catcher but doesn't completely fit the profile. He is by all accounts a good defender though maybe not quite as good as what the Pirates usually select but he also comes with a little more potential with the bat as he is a contact hitter with size so if he can tap into that size perhaps he can add some power.

    Gabriel Brito: A fairly prominent signing in the international ranks back in 2014 Brito has been moving slowly through the system. As of yet he hasn't really distinguished himself but he seems solid behind the plate, especially controlling the running game, and has shown flashes of potential with the bat. He has never hit for much power but this past year the little he had hit for went completely away and he was mainly a single and walks kind of guy. At just 21 he will be an ok age for his likely destination of short season A ball but he is quickly running out of time.

    Samuel Inoa: Inoa is a bat first catcher signed back in 2015. His defense does seem to have improved a good deal so it looks like he might be able to stick at catcher. His hitting has been very good the last two seasons but the problem is injuries has severely limited the amount of time he has actually played. Inoa has barely eclipsed 200 total at bats the last two years. If he manages to put together a mostly healthy season in 2019 he could be a mini breakout player.

    Jommer Hernandez: I don't really follow the DSL teams all that much as its a hard league to get a handle on but of the several players to get time at catcher between both DSL teams Hernandez seems like the best prospect of the lot. He was signed during the 2017 IFA period for 250K and received the most time behind the dish. He didn't hit much but 17 year old catchers rarely do. He did do a good job controlling the running game though. The Pirates have a lot of young catcher down here and it will probably take another season to sort through them but other than Hernandez the next best one at the moment looks to be Yeison Ceballo who is the youngest of the group. He didn't play a whole lot this past year though.
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  9. #9
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    Today I'll move on to short season first base. This is going to be a fairly boring assortment because low level 1B prospects aren't really a thing.

    Luke Mangieri: Drafted in the 25th round the Pirates announced Mangieri as a right fielder but he played almost exclusive first base (which is where he also played in college). He doesn't hit for much power but has good plate discipline and is a good defensive first baseman. Since he does appear mostly limited to first base the power will have to come for him to be more than an organizational guy.

    Mikell Granberry: Granberry was an IFA back in 2013 and was quite an interesting one but that was because he was signed as a catcher and had good offensive potential for one. Now it seems the Pirates don't regard him as a catcher prospect anymore as he only rarely plays there and instead splits the majority of his time between 1B and DH. As a first baseman he isn't all that interesting as a prospect.

    Nick Patten: Patten was drafted in the 28th round of this past draft. Even though he was a college pick the Pirates sent him to rookie ball and yet he struggled even there. That should tell you all you need to know about him but he was the regular 1B for the rookie ball team and that is enough to get on to this list.

    Shendrik Apostel: This is the younger brother of the Apostel sent to Texas in return for Kela. Like his big brother Shendrik has some good raw power but he is not quite as polished as his brother but considering he is younger that makes sense. He had a solid offensive season for the Pirates DSL affiliate but his defense even at 1B need some work and he does strike out a fair amount. Right now he is just a raw power guy but in the next year or two there is a chance he could develop into a more interesting prospect.
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