Baseball America continued their Best Tools lists today, looking at all of the players in full-season A-ball. Yesterday I wrote about how the Pittsburgh Pirates had a few guys make the list in the upper levels, including Elias Diaz being named the Best Defensive Catcher in the Eastern League, and Gregory Polanco being named the Best Batting Prospect and the Most Exciting Player in the International League.
The Pirates had two more prospects winning Best Tools honors in A-ball. Josh Bell was named the Best Batting Prospect in the Florida State League. He has since moved up to Double-A, but Bell posted a .335/.384/.502 line in 331 at-bats while he was in Bradenton. It’s a little surprising that Tyler Glasnow didn’t win any honors, although a lot of the pitching awards went to Jose Berrios, who posted a 1.96 ERA in 96.1 innings, with a 109:23 K/BB ratio. That had the same dominance that Glasnow has, without a lot of the control issues.
In the Low-A list, the Pirates had another defensive catcher award. This time, Reese McGuire was named the Best Defensive Catcher in the South Atlantic League. Last night I wrote about how Elias Diaz is the top catching prospect for the Pirates in the upper levels, even ahead of Tony Sanchez. McGuire is the top catching prospect in the system. However, he’s much further away than Diaz. He has a .257/.301/.315 line in 327 at-bats this year. McGuire shows some potential with the bat, while making solid contact that could lead to some power as he gets older and stronger. If the bat develops as expected, then he could be an All-Star starting catcher.
It should be noted that Diaz also struggled with the bat in A-ball, while showing a lot of raw hitting potential. He had a .607 OPS in West Virginia in his age 20 season, then returned to post a .549 OPS the next year. Last year he had a .781 OPS in Bradenton at the age of 22, and this year he’s breaking out in Altoona with an .822 OPS at the age of 23. McGuire has a .616 OPS in his age 19 season, so he’s a little bit ahead of where Diaz was, with plenty of time to show improvements.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
If Josh Bell can stay healthy he will be a better pro than both Polanco and Marte. This kids future is limitless. I think he is a top 15 prospect and is our best prospect overall beating out both Glasnow and JT.
I have looked and looked for days trying to find out if Huntington offered Bell in the deal for David Price. The trade had to have been built around him or Glasnow and with our OF being full I think Huntington offered Bell and the Rays missed out on a elite prospect.
I am hoping Diaz can develop into a Carlos Ruiz type of catcher…average to above average at pretty much everything and a nice total overall package that can be you catcher 100 or so games a year for 7-8 years.
Intersting that Glasnow did not make the list in any tool, especially the fastball. He is absolutely destroying the FSL. Berrios gave up more runs, more hits, and hit more batters in less innings, although obviously Glasnow walked more batters. Berrios also did not have the year last year that Glasnow had coming into this season. Just very surprised to not see Glasnow (a top 20 prospect) not make the list in any regard.
Maybe that’s a good thing. Points to him being more than a 1 trick pony.