MLB.com’s Top 20 Pirates Prospects Released

Jameson Taillon was named the Pirates' top prospect by MLB.com

Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com released his top 20 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects for the 2012 season today on MLB.com. Click the link to go over and check out the rankings, along with a video on each player. Mayo also breaks down the Pirates’ system in this article.

The top four prospects are no surprise. Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte, and Josh Bell are ranked one through four respectively, the same order they had in MLB.com’s top 100. There are a few surprises after that group.

Stetson Allie came in on the list at number five, one ahead of Luis Heredia. A lot of people have Heredia in the top five, and Allie closer to number ten. Heredia was fifth and Allie was eighth in the Pirates Prospects rankings. Both pitchers are raw, but have a lot of upside. They both also struggled with control in their first pro seasons. While Heredia was only 16 in 2011, Allie was 20, which gives him less time to work on his issues from the 2011 season.

Finishing out the top ten in order were Tony Sanchez, Robbie Grossman, Jeff Locke, and Justin Wilson. I’m sure a lot of Pirates fans would disagree with the order of Sanchez and Grossman, considering the breakout season for Grossman and the down year for Sanchez.

The 11-15 rankings are dominated by pitchers. Kyle McPherson and Nick Kingham come in at number 11 and 12. Rudy Owens ranks 13th, while Bryan Morris ranks 15th. First baseman Alex Dickerson ranks 14th on the list, and was previously named one of the top ten first base prospects in minor league baseball by Mayo.

The 16-20 group features a lot of guys with tools and upside. Alen Hanson comes in at 16th, which is the highest I’ve seen him ranked, and might be a little too high considering his lack of experience. Colton Cain follows Hanson, and is followed in order by Zack Von Rosenberg, Clay Holmes, and Jarek Cunningham.

Mayo listed Matt Curry and Jeff Inman as under the radar prospects. He noted that had Curry gone to high-A instead of AA last year, he probably would have finished with monster numbers and created more buzz. He might have gotten more hype with the high-A numbers, but the real test for Curry, who was drafted as a college senior, is the AA level. That will be a key thing to watch in 2012.

Mayo also made his predictions for hitter and pitcher of the year. He predicted Josh Bell would be the hitter of the year, while Jameson Taillon would be the pitcher of the year.

Analysis

  • Wonder what will become of projects Wesley Freeman, Evan Chambers, and Rojas Jr.  Any insight as to the upside of Gift Ngeope?  

  • I liked that Jarek Cunningham made the list.  Would be fantastic if he panned out.  A legit power threat from 2B would be wonderful (slightly more than Walker).  Alen Hanson was a bit of a surprise…don’t know too much about him.  Does anyone have any info?
    I also think that McPherson is going to be a pleasant surprise after a little time in the bigs.

  • I feel like Pedro Alvarez was a quick to majors guy. Tony Sanchez also if he wouldn’t have broken his jaw. Alex Dickerson and Gerrit Cole could get there quickly. Chase D’Arnaud got there fairly quickly. All hitters except Cole so the Bucs have taken the longterm approach only with pitchers not hitters.

  • They draft too many players who are reaches or are long term projects.
    It’s fine to have some of those in your system but they need to get players quickly onto the 25 man roster not lanquishing in the minors for six years.

    Maybe they wanted to get some of those players before the new CBA took effect, I hope with the new draft guidelines the Pirates will focus on more traditional drafting instead of almost every pick being a long shot with great upside if he works out.

    NH seems to try to want to outfox everybody else by taking chances on longshots. It worked one time with Garret Jones but has failed about 50 other times. Gamblers either end up losing or in rehab.

    • going the safe route is kinda what got the farm system into trouble in the first place, amigo.

      • Yeah you are right, Moskos was a safer pick than Weiters  🙂

        What got them in trouble was signing the cheapest picks and otherwise ignoring the system.

    • This is an absolutely ridiculous statement.

      Taking gambles and hitting on them are the best way to improve a farm system.  You can argue about the success rate, although the total lack of depth in the system and lack of upside in the high minors are signs of just how mordibund the system was under the previous GM. Drafting to just get safe bodies for the 25-man roster simply leads to lots of middle relievers; look what it has done for the Mets and the White Sox.

      • Everybody knows what the system was before.

        You said …….THE BEST WAY TO IMPROVE A SYSTEM IS  TAKING GAMBLES AND HITTING ON THEM….. No sh**…..That kind of thinking is what keeps Vegas going.

        I never said the word SAFE you did. Just because you draft a top College pitcher doesn’t means it is a safe pick it just means that he may reach the majors in two years instead of five. 

        I said in my post ,I guess you missed it, that it is fine to have some reaches and long term projects. So I am not against taking a shot on somebody that given time can develop. but not 70% of the draft.

        As I said with the new draft guidelines I hope the Pirates will settle in to a more traditional draft strategy.

        NOT SAFER, but the best player that is available when they pick. 

        • Geez, dude, relax.

          Okay, let’s look at the top college pitchers available when the Pirates picked.  The “safe” picks, shall we?

          Let’s not worry about last year; they took a top college pitcher.

          The year before, they took Taillon instead of Pomeranz.  Potential ace v. number 2/3 starter.  Could go safe, but that would have clearly been a lesser pick.

          2009 – Kyle Gibson (Missouri). Now viewed as a #2 or #3 starter arriving 2014 at the earliest after injury problems. (Strasburg not available at #4)

          2008 – Brian Matusz.  He made it to the majors last year, true.  He had a 10.69 ERA.

          2007 – Ross Detwiler.  In the majors as a 4th/5th starter or a swingman.

          2006 – Andrew Miller.  He made the major quickly, but he hasn’t stuck.  We did take a college pitcher this time, one who was basically viewed at the same level as Miller and Tim Lincecum.  We (and several other teams) clearly guessed wrong.  Still, the college pitcher routs was not the best call.

          2005 – Mike Pelfrey was gone when we picked.  Luke Hochevar fell due to signability.  Craig Hansen was next in pre-draft buzz; his name should sound familiar.  We ended up with some guy named McCutchen.  Yeah, we should have gone safe and taken Hansen.

          There are absolutely times when a top college pitcher is the RIGHT choice.  Complaining about the Pirates’ recent draft strategy and saying we should have gone with college pitchers, however, is grossly oversimplifying the point.  We did go the safe (perceived “quick to majors”, if you prefer) draft route in quite a few drafts in the early and mid 2000’s.  We have a system that is quite fallow as a result.

          As to your comment about the “best player,” they have done that repeatedly, particularly in the last few drafts.  That strategy netted Perdro Alvarez (jury very much out), Jamison Taillon, Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell, Stetson Allie (jury out), etc.  Suggesting a “best player” strategy is both highly subjective and not a truly radical departure from recent drafting history.  BTW, since I have provided you with data presented in a dispassionate manner, please provide proof for you claim of 70% risky draft picks. 

  • This seems like more of a classical, if all things work out perfectly prospects list, rather than really trying to reconcile the potential upside of a player with the likelihood that they’ll actually reach it.  I still really like Allie, especially considering his limited pitching experience so far in his life.  However, at this point, I’m having a hard time agreeing that he’s a legitimate top-5 for them until he proves something more.  The same goes for Heredia, great upside, but when he was only 16 last year, I think he’s just too far away to project that highly.  I find no reason that players in positions like those shouldn’t garner a certain amount of respect because of their abilities, and by no means saying that there shouldn’t be some excitement generated by their presence.  However, to say that Allie and Heredia should be ahead of players further up in the system, regardless of the comparative upside, would be a fallacy.  This is where the lack of depth in their system comes in to play, because while I don’t think they should be ahead of guys like Sanchez and Grossman, I don’t think they should be much further back.  I would probably argue that Sanchez and Grossman should be 5/6 in whichever order, while Allie and Heredia would be somewhere between 7 and 10.  The only other player at this point that I might try to squeeze in ahead of them is Wilson (if he’s listed as a closer/relief) and possibly Dickerson.

  • no Zach Dodson huh?

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