Keith Law Ranks the Pirates Farm System Eighth

The latest farm system rankings to come out belong to Keith Law, who released his top 30 farm system rankings today (ESPN Insider subscription required). In the description, Law noted that the top tier of talent for the Pirates was very strong, but that the system lacked depth, which he said was surprising considering the high draft positions and the amount of money they’ve spent on amateur talent.

Law’s ranking is the highest the Pirates have been ranked out of all of the major outlets. That’s not really a big surprise. Law has been higher on a lot of the Pirates prospects than most outlets. He had Luis Heredia in his top 50 mid-season rankings last year. He was one of the highest on Gerrit Cole heading in to the 2011 draft. He’s also been one of the highest on Robbie Grossman, who had a breakout year in Bradenton in 2011, then continued his run in the Arizona Fall League, which Law covered.

On the flip side, Law has been lower on Starling Marte than most.

The depth issue is one that has been discussed over the past few weeks with the various prospect rankings that have been released. It’s true that the Pirates lack a lot of depth behind their top prospects. They don’t have a lot of guys who are established prospects. What they do have is a lot of young players who are a year or two out of high school, or college guys like Alex Dickerson who are talented but have yet to prove themselves in the higher levels.

The Pirates have a lot of guys who could be breakout candidates, just as Robbie Grossman broke out in 2011. On the flip side, a breakout isn’t guaranteed, as we’ve seen with Quinton Miller so far. Until we start to see more Grossman’s and fewer Miller’s from the 2009-2011 draft classes, we’re likely to continue to hear the “lack of depth” arguments.


  • A lot of players have to take big steps forward for ranking to go up. They could easily go down if it turns out that Sanchez is more average than above average if Stetson Allie doesn’t progress, etc.
    I dont see that the top 10 pick is going to help rankings go up in that 3 or 4 teams with top 10 picks are already ranked higher than Bucs.

    The Bucs system has to pass (and pass by a lot) KC and TB for the strategy of relying mostly on draft to work.

  • Really feel we will be even higher next year.  With a top ten pick, another year under the prep pitcher belts…remember…they would only be college sophs/jrs at this point, and only Marte and maybe Sanchez, Owens, Locke, or McPherson moving up there is a great chance of that.  
    If Cain, Dickerson, Kingman, Heredia, or ZVR take off…our list would look amazing.  
    Totally agree with the concern over the lack of position prospects though.  Hope they draft a SS stud this year.
    Things everyone should be over by now:  The Bay trade, whining about the prep pitchers, giving up on Alvarez already.    

    • Something you don’t seem to be over is reality.  I feel we’ll be lower.  Battle of the feelings?  Until the system starts producing something better than Alvarez and D’Arnaud, 8th seems pretty high.  Could Alvarez turn it around?  Of course he could.  But results matter, actual data matters.  Much more than feelings, don’t you think?

  • First of all I think Huntington has done a fantastic job of rebuilding the Pirate minor league system. For all those that use the, well he had 1st and 2nd picks the last couple of years, remember this, those add up to about 5 picks, the rest of the organization picks are players picked around 50 and up. He not only has stocked it with draft picks, but he traded for some of the players in the system, they also have become much more active in the international picks.

    Gone are the days when the only player in the system that they had to look forward to was McCutchen, think about it, when he was in the system, what other top prospect did they have to compliment him? Now they not only have a bunch of them, we are looking at who ranks ahead of who!

    How high an organizations farm system is ranked appears to me to be established by how many high end players they have and not on how those high end players are playing, mostly names and pedigree.

    The only way I look at a minor league organization is how many players that they have that can become major league players, they do have a very good idea in every organization who those players are, but you never see them included in rankings, only the top 10 or 15.

    For example a Jeff Inman IMO is a top ten pick in the Pirate organization, but you rarely see his name anywhere, mostly because he has been injured, but when he pitches a blind person can see this guy has talent.

  • A trade to Texas with Cutch and Hanrahan packaged would given us the best minorleague system overnight.  Marte would be just fine in CF for what we would get in return…

  • So we can’t be big spenders in FA market so we resort to overpaying prep players and apparently we suck at that as well.  In order to do what we were trying to do you have to have better scouts, obviously ours suck.  Between busted trades for stars like Bay and our inability to properly draft the best player available we are forever doomed.  

  • There is a breakdown in the system somewhere,ether the scouts are not very good or the people in the front office are bungling the information they are given and obviously making poor choices or they might be a bit arrogant in that they believe they doing a great job and have all the answers. Too bad they can’t find an independant expert to evaluate their way of doing things.

  • I’m impressed that the system is ranked this high with the majority of the top players below AA. They have an awful lot of arms developing that could break through over the next two years. Teach em how to pitch properly and the rest will take care of itself. I am concerned with the lack of position player depth.

  • 8 is better than 9th but the Padres and Cardinals are two teams rated ahead of the Bucs.

    How did the Padres get there?  Mostly from Latos deal?

    It is not good if the Cards system is better than Bucs, how can the Bucs catch them if they have better major league talent and better farm system?

    The Bucs must do a better job of getting talent outside the draft to have any shot at building a consistent winner.

    • It would take a lot more than 1 deal to get the #1 spot here.  They have been trading away marquis guys for 2 years now.  

  • Ok, a little recognition.  This is a good thing.  Arguably, I see little difference between a team just inside the top-10 and a team just outside of it.  But in the top-10 is a nice little arbitrary mark to reach.