On Friday, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced that they acquired left-handed pitching prospect Steven Brault from the Baltimore Orioles, completing the Travis Snider trade. Brault joins Stephen Tarpley to give the Pirates two left-handed pitchers in return for Snider.
Our 2015 Prospect Guide features the top 50 prospects in the system, although the cut off date for transactions was on December 14th. As usual, when the Pirates add a player after the ranking deadline, I ask our writers where the new player would have ranked in their rankings. We then use the average of the rankings to get an idea of where the new player would have ranked if he was in the system before the cut off date.
This process is different from how we rank prospects for the book. In that process, everyone submits scouting grades for each prospect, and we use the average of the grades to help determine a player’s ranking. But this rough process is good enough to get an idea of how good the player is that the Pirates acquired. Here is our article on Stephen Tarpley.
The rankings for Brault were pretty evenly spread out, with him finishing anywhere from 21st overall (behind Luis Heredia) to 33rd overall (in front of John Kuchno). The average rankings had him around 27th overall, which is right where Jason Creasy was ranked in the top 50.
Brault had some impressive numbers, and he is left-handed, unlike the three pitchers mentioned above. I ended up ranking him 28th, just behind Creasy, and a few spots behind Chad Kuhl. My reasoning was that Brault doesn’t have lights out stuff, and fits the profile of a lefty with great control who posts great numbers in the lower levels, only to struggle when he reaches the upper levels. Because of that, I see his upside as a back of the rotation starter, or a middle reliever on a team with a stronger rotation. That’s about where I’d put Kuhl and Creasy, only I like their stuff better, and don’t see them having as big of a drop off at the next level. There is also the age factor to consider, as Brault will be 23 this year and in high-A, while Creasy was 22 at the level and Kuhl was 21.
I’d expect Brault to begin the year in Bradenton, where I will get plenty of opportunities to see him. I’ve seen some outlets that have him ranked a lot closer to Tarpley. As far as our tiered rankings go, we’d have them ranked one tier apart, with Tarpley in tier 4, and Brault in tier 5 (those who own the Prospect Guide can see who else is in each talent tier). The biggest reason for the difference is that Tarpley has better stuff, and seemingly more upside. I’m looking forward to seeing Brault and Tarpley to get a better feel of their upsides going forward.
If you haven’t bought a copy of the 2015 Prospect Guide, you can do so here. We have less than 200 hard copies remaining, and will only have eBooks remaining once these sell out.