Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Top Prospects: #9 – Cole Tucker

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 selected Tucker in the first round of the 2014 draft.
The Pirates selected Tucker in the first round of the 2014 draft.

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.

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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.

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I just think it’s great that a fast, bigger-framed high upside SS that is a switch hitter and drafted #1 can only get the #9 ranking in this system. …and Conner Joe couldn’t even crack the top 20. Of course if he signed earlier or played a few games and looked good he very well could have been near the top 15. Looking forward to seeing him play this year. He is kind of like an urban legend right now.

John Dreker

Some sources have Joe in their top 20, but his age(turned 22 in August) and injury held him back. If his natural/future position was catcher, he’d be in the top 20 I’m sure, but as a right fielder or first baseman, his bat doesn’t stand out and there isn’t any defensive/speed value to him. Joe could obviously jump a good deal if he has a strong season at the plate and shows he can catch. A back injury that kept him out of action for awhile makes that hard to believe that it could happen though. I expect him to put up good hitting stats if he is healthy because I’m assuming he will spend the whole season in A-ball.


Good points John. He definitely needs to have a healthy year ad get rolling. There is always time but he needs to have a good year or end up behind other guys like Barrett Barnes has.


How many times have you scouted him, John?


Was Joe a reach or considered a reach since most don’t really seem to think he’ll stick at catcher?

John Dreker

Most had him as a late 2nd rd, 3rd round pick and the average ranking by draft experts had him ranked 103rd. So that would make him a reach by those standards. He’s a college player, so unlike Cole Tucker, Joe was well-known by his junior year(he was a pretty good HS player as well)


I’ve liked Tucker since the pirates drafted him, I recall saying at the time to watch out forthis kid. I still say he is a safe bet to make the bigs, good kid with a solid foundation.


Because of his young age, it’s possible he goes to Morgantown in 2015, rather than getting the aggressive push to West Virginia.

There’s a team in Morgantown?

Brandon Smith

Yes, it’s the low-A team.


WV Power is the low A team.
Morgantown is the Rookie League short season team that was in Jamestown last season.


Morgantown/Jamestown are classified as low A or short-season A (often labeled A-), not rookie ball. Bristol and Bradenton in the GCL are R level affiliates. WV is the A ball team. Bradenton in the Florida State league is advanced A.

Brandon Smith

My bad, thanks.

John Dreker

Replaced Jamestown, New York-Penn League. Short-season ball.


The Tucker pick was outstanding. He has a high ceiling and he’s a position player so the bust potential is much lower.

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