Top 20 Pirates Prospect List From John Sickels Has Some Interesting Rankings

John Sickels at Minor League Ball, has released his annual top 20 prospects list for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The full list, with his scouting reports can be found here. I’ll quickly go over some of the highlights from the list.

Sickels ranks Tyler Glasnow at the top, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone reading this site. Glasnow had an outstanding season and has been picking up accolades all off-season, plus he has been at the top of every Pirates prospect list published.

The interesting part starts right away and that is ranking Austin Meadows second. Sickels likes his on-base skill, matched up with his moderate power and ability to play center field. Meadows is a solid top prospect, probably would head the list for some teams around baseball, but he usually isn’t second for the Pirates.

Meadows is followed by Josh Bell, who was just named the top first base prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

That left Jameson Taillon in the fourth spot, though Sickels does point out his potential and says he doesn’t assume everyone comes back from Tommy John surgery and makes a full recovery. Taillon threw his first bullpen earlier this week and everything went well.

Sickels is high on JaCoby Jones, putting him in his top ten at #10. That high ranking is despite acknowledging that Jones has poor BB/SO rates, but he likes the tools.

This is the first list we have seen Jung Ho Kang on as well. Sickels has him #11, which is in line with where we ranked him as an unofficial addition to the prospect list.

His 14-17 are all players that aren’t locks for most top 20 lists, ranking Connor Joe, Wyatt Mathisen, Andrew Lambo and Barrett Barnes in order. He lists Joe as a catcher, which will give him more value at the position, but doesn’t knock him(or maybe he did) for turning 22 during last season and still not playing a pro game due to injury. Barnes is another with injury concerns, while Lambo has the numbers to be a prospect, but his age and two straight years of limited time and success in Pittsburgh have him rated a little lower by most.

You can see his 2014 list here.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Chris Hale

Name 1 team who has a more talented projected lineup through 2020. The only team I can come up with who could possibly challenge on paper is the Cubs
Pirates Present and Future
1. Hansen 2B
2. Polanco RF
3. McCutchen CF
4. Marte LF
5. Bell 1B
6.Walker/Kang/Harrison 3B
7. Diaz/McGuire C
8. Mercer SS
Cubs present and future
1. Almora CF
2. Russell SS
3. Bryant LF
4. Rizzo 1B
5 Baez 2B
6. Castro 3B
7. Soler RF
8. Montero C


I will mention this again : do not let anyone tell you different, 30 % + SO rates in AAA are not great indicators of success in MLB. I don’t care who the player is. Stop and think of the quality of most AAA starters.


Going to be fun comparing this group of Cubbies to the collection of Royals position player prospects from the late ’00s. The Royals kids were far less risky as far as prospects go, and it’s taken a long time for them to pay off.


And a couple of those Royals are still on shaky ground, even after performing a little better in the playoffs and WS.

R Edwards

If guys like Taillon, Barnes, Meadows, Holmes all bounce back from injuries and have strong 2015 seasons, that will make a very good system a great system.


I feel like this article by Sickels isn’t that heavily researched.


Thanks John. It’s this site’s fault Sickels’ article seems somewhat misinformed. It is a result of P2 making us all so educated.


From what I’ve seen in the past high profile guys tend to get over ranked by media members whose prime focus isn’t the Pirates. So that probably explains Jacoby Jones being so high. A major college program and noticeable HR statistics make him standout above a lot of better prospects they have that aren’t as well known to guys that have to follow and report on every team. Not an easy undertaking what Sickels has to do.


When anybody in the pirates top ten would be one or two in most other organizations it seems to me that any negatives are a mote point. It’s a good time to be a bucco’s fan.


I like his list, found it interesting that Holdzkom wasn’t rank.


Sounds like the two Johns share similar opinions on that one.


John: How can a guy who has not played a game be listed as the 14th best prospect? PP has him at #29 which is still too high, but he seems to be gathering support from others. At this pace, if he does not play in 2015, is it possible he can crack the Top 10? Sidd Finch was a Pitcher if I recall correctly; can this be his positional alter ego? Guys like Mel Rojas, Jr. and Chad Kuhl have to be scratching their heads.


John: I appreciate the response, but I think the Pirates overreached with this selection hoping to pay a lot less than slot, saving money for post-10th Round prospects such as Gage Hinsz. They really did not save much, and I wish that they would have selected a HS or JUCO LHP, or a college Senior without any negotiating strength that would have taken a lot less just to get the opportunity. I am sure one of our scouts probably had somebody like that on the table, but in the final discussion, the decision came down to Connor Joe.

The Pirates did a fine job on signing a group of young pitchers in 2014 who will comprise the next major surge. We have one surge of strong, young SP’s going on right now, and then these guys will be the next large group to process through. The years of separation of the two groups will allow proper deliberate development.


So that is to say PP’s ranking of just-drafted prospects is based entirely off of where they were “supposed” to be taken?


You’re right, “entirely” too strong. Just mostly based of pre-draft rankings.


Except the Pirates still signed Hinsz, so even if they “did not save much”, they still saved enough to make it happen.

Lee Foo Young

“Overall still a strong system”

Works for me. 🙂


I’m probably wrong but couldn’t Taillon’s TJ be attributed to his slider he used to throw? I think he throws a knuckle-curve now right? If my perceptions are accurate then perhaps Taillon has a pretty good chance of making a full recovery and maybe even benefiting from TJ.

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