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.
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
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.
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.
He has put out his own prospect book for awhile now. On the site, he starts with a preliminary list that he knocks down from about 50 to 40 names and listens to discussions, adding and dropping prospects. He then puts the new list together and again opens it up for discussion and then finally comes up with his final list, so it’s a three day process per team from someone that follows prospects year around. He obviously doesn’t follow the team as close as everyone here does, but he’s been doing this for a long time.
Thanks John. It’s this site’s fault Sickels’ article seems somewhat misinformed. It is a result of P2 making us all so educated.
I think it’s safe to say that no one puts as much time into the Pirates farm system as the people do on P2 combined. With as much as we know though, we still find out things on certain prospects we didn’t know and that will sometimes change our opinion of them drastically. An example would be Colton Cain. His ranking for me really dropped after I saw him pitch twice. Before that, we were basing his rankings on scouting reports/bonus/age and stats, but he looked bad both times I saw him and that hurt his prospect status.
It’s tough to concentrate on one entire farm system, but to try doing all 30 is impossible for one person. You can get a good idea of the system, but you’re going to miss some things and that’s what you have here with his list. It’s still researched and thought out, plus comes from a good baseball mind, so it’s worth discussing/posting.
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.
I think it’s based on him being a catcher and being listed as a possible late second round pick in the draft. Most had him 3rd-4th round, but some had him higher. I think his age hurts his case, plus the missed time, so that’s why we have him down at #29 . If he can bounce back, they expect him to be a guy that collects a lot of doubles and hits for a decent average. That would make him an average at best RF/1B, or if they stick with the catching, his bat plays well there. A back injury and a lack of experience at the position probably make him less likely to catch.
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.
We obviously didn’t think highly of the Joe pick here. A 1st round pick would normally rank somewhere in the top 15 just for signing his contract, but Joe didn’t even make our top 25. The pick looked like a big reach at the start and it didn’t help that he got hurt and didn’t play a game. My explanation was trying to explain possibly why Sickels had him so high.
So that is to say PP’s ranking of just-drafted prospects is based entirely off of where they were “supposed” to be taken?
I did not say that and you should know that isn’t true
You’re right, “entirely” too strong. Just mostly based of pre-draft rankings.
I wouldn’t even agree with that. Joe was ranked in the same area as Tucker, Keller, Hinsz, Supak and Luplow by some people. Those guys range over 20 places on our rankings. If we based it mostly on pre-draft rankings, they would all have to be much closer.
Except the Pirates still signed Hinsz, so even if they “did not save much”, they still saved enough to make it happen.
“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.