The Pirates Prospects 2015 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2015 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.
To recap the countdown so far:
20. Luis Heredia, RHP
19. JaCoby Jones, SS
18. Willy Garcia, OF
17. Clay Holmes, RHP
16. Gage Hinsz, RHP
15. Trey Supak, RHP
14. Cody Dickson, LHP
13. John Holdzkom, RHP
12. Adrian Sampson, RHP
11. Harold Ramirez, OF
10. Elias Diaz, C
We continue the countdown with the number 9 prospect, Cole Tucker.
9. Cole Tucker, SS
The Pirates surprised everyone when they took Cole Tucker in the first round of the 2014 draft. Every public draft ranking had Tucker rated much lower than where he ended up going. What made it even more confusing is that the Pirates drafted him with the 24th overall pick, despite the perception that he was rated much lower than that, and despite the Pirates also having the 39th overall pick.
After the draft, the pick made more sense. Tucker was rated much higher inside the game than he was by the public rankings. Oakland was ready to take him 25th overall if the Pirates passed. Cleveland and Colorado were interested, with both having picks before the Pirates selected again at 39.
Tucker has a lot of speed and range, and projects as a guy who could stick at the shortstop position, even if he adds muscle to his tall and lean frame. The projectable frame gives him the potential to hit for some power in the future, although he doesn’t project to be a big power hitter, with gap power being the most likely outcome. He commands the strike zone well, and has a good feel for hitting, with the left side producing better results.
One added bonus here is that Tucker was just 17 years old when he was drafted, and was one of the youngest players in the draft. Most players are 18 when they are drafted out of high school. This is an age range where players see rapid growth and development in their games. By taking a younger player, the Pirates could be getting a guy a year early, while watching him show some big developments in their system.
Tucker’s pro debut wasn’t great, but also wasn’t horrible. He faded at the end of the season, but did an outstanding job hitting for average and getting on base throughout the season. His defense looked sharp, with quick moves, good footwork, and a lot of range due to his speed. The one downside was that he had some throwing issues, with most of that coming early in the season. He had a minor thumb injury, but the throwing problems came before that injury occurred. (UPDATE: Tucker Had Surgery to Repair a Torn UCL in His Hand) There were reports that he had an arm injury early in the season, but Tucker said that his arm was fine. This could have been chalked up to early pro-career nerves, but will be something to watch going forward.
It’s too early to say for sure what Tucker’s likely upside could be, although the potential is high. He’s got a legitimate chance to stick at the shortstop position, while being an above-average regular. The Pirates will give him every opportunity to make that happen. Because of his young age, it’s possible he goes to Morgantown in 2015, rather than getting the aggressive push to West Virginia.