Baseball America released their list of the top ten prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday. No surprise that Tyler Glasnow heads the list, as he is considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Glasnow is followed by Austin Meadows, Josh Bell and Jameson Taillon in the top four. After that, BA threw a bit of a curve into their rankings, which you can compare to the mid-season rankings listed below.

Harold Ramirez is ranked fifth, while Reese McGuire, Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Elias Diaz round out the top ten.

During Baseball America’s top ten mid-season update for the Pirates, they had Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Austin Meadows and Alen Hanson in the top four, followed by Jameson Taillon, Cole Tucker, Reese McGuire, Elias Diaz, Nick Kingham and JaCoby Jones. That list didn’t include the draft picks, who were all new to the system at the time. They seemed to be high on Tucker at the time, who underwent surgery and will end up missing a full season between his time missed in 2015 and his estimated return time next year. That didn’t hurt his rankings for the postseason list. They were also high on Jones, who was traded away in July and ended up striking out 165 times in 2015, then got suspended for 50 games following the season.

Harold Ramirez moved far up their list since July, although he was hitting the ball well then, so it seems like they wanted to see what he could do for a full season. Alen Hanson not making the list is a surprise for two reasons. The first is that they were obviously high on him in July, ranking him ahead of Taillon. The other reason is that he was young for AAA and showed terrific defense at second base, plus he still has the tools to be a lead-off hitter in the majors, so a player like that is usually ranked pretty high, even in a deep/strong system like the Pirates have right now.

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86 COMMENTS

    • I love Freeman, but he is out of our price range I am guessing. His salary jumps to between 20-22 million after this year

      • For sure. Just for fun, what would it take? Could we get away with something like Meadows (from Atl Area), Bell, Brault or Kuhl and another top 30?

  1. Two articles I would like to see. 1. How does one trade effect the value of another player? Specifically big trade like Kimbrell trade effect Melancon ‘s value. 2. Does Pedro’s value change if we don’t consider his defensive negative WAR. Specifically as a DH to an AL team, or do DH players just get less value?…I love this site, been reading for years and paying for it since you let me. Plus I jump to other teams sites, especially when we make a trade and it seems your teams analysis is closer to reality of prospects then any other…granted I might be biased but thanks for the great reads everyday, and sorry if this isn’t the place to mention the article ideas.

  2. With what the Red Sox just gave up for a VERY expensive Kimbrel the Pirates could add a couple top prospects to their system very, very soon.

    • Except isnt this kind of the worst nightmare?

      Not only will the best reliever in baseball, Aroldis Chapman, be traded but now Kimbrel goes too? That makes Melancon, at best, the third best closer to be traded. In one winter!

      I can’t see how a better reliever going to one of the Pirates obvious targets is a good thing.

      • Because I think it sets the bar really really high. Let’s put it this way…with what the Red Sox just gave up…you could argue a Melancon for Profar straight up trade would be proper value.

      • Can I also say this is a PRIME example of why it would be nice to have a message board…have an independent and easy to locate/use source for discussion of differing topics. If we are paying for a baseball site then we LIKELY want to talk about baseball topics, even if not strictly pirate related. A board would be really really nice.

        • Shocked anyone paid that price for a closer. That’s insane.

          Dombrowski ain’t messing around with the bullpen after his DET days

      • Good and bad. Bad that major team with a need is out, good that they set a stupid market price.

        DET is still apparently very much in the market for a closer, so it’ll be interesting. It is a blow that BOS got their man. Nationals also could use money from not signing Desmond to get rid of the memory of Papelbon. Interesting opening move.

        Side note: Dombrowski is crazy. It’ll likely work since that team only needed a closer and 1 SP really, but lawd. Preller is somewhere giddy.

  3. I agree with this list with the exception of Newman, I will take Kingham, Hanson in that spot any day. What I’m happy about is Ramirez placement, he is a prospect that I expect the most from.

    • I still see Ramirez as Jose Tabata 2.0. I think Hanson is a top 10 prospect but Kingham shouldn’t be in there right now as he was a fringe top 10 to begin with and most likely won’t pitch until August.

      • If by Tabata 2.0 you mean the Tabata that showed lots of promised his first year in the bigs then yes, Ramirez had very good chance to be Tabata just like Meadows has a chance to be Travis Snider.

  4. Hanson may *feel* low, but the prospect BA does have ranked 10th turns out to be a really interesting comparison.

    Make the case for Alen Hanson as a better prospect than Elias Diaz. Can you do it?

    Similar offensive profiles, with Diaz showing better contact and a bit better patience while Hanson has produced a bit better power thus far. Diaz has been the better hitter at each of the last three levels.

    Also similar defensive profiles, again with Diaz gaining higher regard overall.

    Hanson has better speed, and is two years younger. It would seem to me that the only way you rank Hanson as a better prospect is if you buy into the age difference heavily.

    Any other thoughts?

    • That is really interesting. I’ve just had it in my mind that Hanson is a superior offensive prospect and Diaz the superior defender. Never realized how similar their offensive numbers were. Still feel like there is a general feeling that Hanson has a higher offensive ceiling. Hanson seems to have the tools defensively, but also seems to have periodic lapses. Diaz is probably getting a bump for playing a premium defensive position and reportedly being very good at it. If their offensive production is going to be similar going forward I’d have to give the edge to Diaz. But it still feels that Hanson has a higher ceiling. Is that just because he’s been on the prospect radar longer? Wonder if the Pirates feel the same way about Diaz, if they are looking at extending Cervelli? Good question.

      • Hanson *feels* like he has the higher ceiling because of his 2012 breakout. Folks were rightfully very impressed with that kind of production, particularly power, at a young age. Diaz hasn’t had, and at this point won’t have the chance to have, a signature season like Hanson’s.

        In that respect, sure, one could argue Hanson has the higher offensive ceiling. How close you think he’ll get to it, specifically in the power department, essentially determines how much you like him as a prospect.

        I personally lean towards taking the under on him ever becoming an average or better power producer at the big league level. Actually see him pretty close to what Josh Harrison really is at the plate, just with a few more strikeouts.

      • For me, it’s easily Newman.

        Plus hit and run tools with well-below average power and no plus defensive tool isn’t a sexy profile, but folks absolutely rave about his baseball instincts/makeup and I think he’ll stick at short.

        If Hanson was able to get his power to translate into average or better production I think it would be close, but Newman has a much higher floor at a more valuable position. I’ll take that any day.

        • Now you are just been stubbon, they’re about the same age, Hanson killed at WV Newman will be hard pressed to keep up with AAA (at age 22 which is Hansons age). And I wouldnot give him credit for playing SS, he rates as average at best.

          • Not give him credit for the position he plays?

            You have to give him credit for that until they move him. Its projection of what you assume might happen in the future otherwise. Its a discussion of who is higher rated at the current moment, meaning playing SS gives you a boost.

            • And the reasons Newman gets knocked defensively are *exactly* the same that made just about everyone miss on Jordy Mercer. Doesn’t have a plus arm, doesn’t have plus range, doesn’t make the “flashy” plays.

              Just can flat-out play baseball. If sure hands, great instincts, and Pirate shifts can turn Jordy Mercer into a plus defender I have little doubt Newman will hold his own.

              • Jordy always had a great arm, was a late inning reliever in college, like everyone here I hope all the prospects become all stars, but I haven’t warmed up to Newman yet.

              • To be fair to Mercer, i’ve seen a few reports that had Mercer as a plus defender his entire minor league career. Im not convinced shifts are what make Mercer a good fielder.

                Brian Cartwright (so the OLIVER system) has always rated Mercer as solid at least. Its just one system, but not all that bad of a reference. He’s been consistently higher on Mercer’s D than others due to a variation in how he inputs a few things and avoids lumping together ground balls in the infield via outfield etc.

                • Not sure if you’re projecting other conversations or speaking directly to me, but I didn’t imply shifts are what make Mercer good. Shifts are what help make up for what he lacks, and what scouts traditionally look for in good fielding shortstop prospects. Kiley wrote a great article on flawed shortstop scouting when he was at FG and even used Jordy as his exactly of a guy most missed on.

                  • I just really meant to point out that there are some systems of evaluating players that never saw Mercer as lacking much on defense relative to his peers.

    • Perotto does the write-up, but he doesn’t do the rankings. Dejan did a few of these write-ups around the 2010 time frame and I specifically remember him saying he wasn’t responsible for the specific rankings.

      But I’m far from a big enough man to let an opportunity to jag Perotto go unused. 😉

  5. I think Kramer & Hayes are showing a bit high here over Hanson. I would also see Braul and Tarpley ahead of them. Overall a good top 13

    My sleeper: Allie rakes big time at Indy this year

  6. I felt Diaz should be higher. They are one foul tip broken finger or wrist away from Diaz having a huge role on the 2016 team.

  7. The list did not include Hanson. Curious that he was always highly touted but now he seems to be getting a negative tag.

      • You might want to take a look at Francisco Lindor’s AA & AAA offensive numbers for 2014 and ‘ 15. They are fairly comparable to Hanson’s and don’t look predictive of his improvement after moving to MLB. You might also want to really look up the meaning of ” regression ” before using it in certain instances.

        • I won’t speak for Doug, but when he and others talk about Hanson’s bat regressing it’s usually relative to his 2012 breakout, and in that context, they’re absolutely right.

          Hanson *is* young, *does* have quality skills, and *has* held his own in the upper levels of the minors but I don’t think there’s any doubt that a lot of his prospect status was built on the offensive profile teased during that 2012 breakout, a profile he hasn’t come close to repeating.

          Lindor was also a good bit more successful in AAA a full year younger than Hanson, but he is a good example of a kid who outpaced his projected offense upon arrival.

          • My biggest points of difference with Hanson’s placement in regards to that list was that I don’t see how you can rate Cole Tucker higher when he hasn’t really broken out offensively, and now is sidelined with a serious shoulder problem. I also do not consider regression the proper term to use when a young guy doesn’t produce quite as much in the upper levels as he might have through High A. Along with that, I use Lindor/Hanson usually for comparison because of the fact that while Lindor was not disappointing offensively in AA and AAA, he certainly wasn’t a kid who immediately grabbed your attention when hitting. His combined ’14 – ’15 AAA OPS was probably somewhere around 30 to 40 points above Hanson’s.

      • “Already bad defense” doesn’t jive with Tim’s report of showing “terrific defense at second base.” And as leo said, he was very young for AAA.

      • Not sure where you are getting the reports of him having bad defense at 2B. Seemed a bit inconsistent when first moving over but i havent seen any report that shows him as overall poor on defense at 2B.

  8. How does he have the tools to be a lead-off hitter in the majors? His OB% is not good at all in the upper levels. Seems like he is an 8th hitter to me.

    • Plus speed, hit tool, some power. He has been one of the youngest players each year for the league he is in. Hanson doesn’t take enough walks, but he should hit for average, and his speed will allow him to steal bases and take extra bases.

      He would have still been on the young side if he spent the whole season in AA this year, so you have to weigh his stats by factoring in age/level. If he was putting up great stats in AAA this year, he would have been one of the top prospects in all of baseball, not just the Pirates system.

      • I agree with the plus speed, but that’s about it. His hit tool hasn’t been that great in the upper levels, same with his power. Pretty average tools to me, plus his defense still isn’t great. 9 errors from 2b is still too many, although he has come a long way in his defense. Not giving up on him, he just seems to be fading fast. Dilson Herrera seems like he will have the better big league career….

        • Players have floors and ceilings. He could end up being no more than a utility player(floor) and he could be a lead-off hitter for years(ceiling), but at age 22 in AAA, you don’t assume that he is near his peak when he’s facing much older pitching and a group with plenty of MLB experience. You go by the scouting reports, past performance and the eye test. Stats are weighed in too, but they aren’t the only thing.

          As for his defense, errors in the minors are a horrible way to judge players. He’s playing on a minor league field under minor league lights surrounded by minor league players. His first baseman for the end of the year was Josh Bell and that’s who Hanson was playing next to and throwing to, so all those things combined will hurt a players’ error total. He was voted the best defensive second baseman in the International League and displayed well above-average range for a second baseman

              • I’ve seen him play in Erie several times….Never said he won’t see his share of MLB time. I stated he could bottom out as AAAA player….You stated he could bottom out as Utility. Guess it depends on your definition. Is Pedro Florimon AAAA guy or MLB caliber UT ?

          • Could he start the season at 2B if the Pirates trade Walker and Kang doesn’t come back until after opening day?

            • I don’t think they would do that. Even in the best case scenario, they would wait a couple weeks to call him up so they get an extra year of control out of him.

          • John- I’m not saying I disagree, but let’s not lose track that he IS one of those minor league players, not like he’s a ML all-star playing down there in a downgraded situation on a rehab assignment. It’s disingenuous to use the minor league parks as a reason why he makes errors when he’s playing with his piers- AAA fields for most players are the best fields they’ve literally ever seen and WILL ever see. Especially for those whom weren’t in Division 1 ball in NCAA. I’ll give you that throwing to Bell isn’t going to help your error total, but it isn’t going to create errors either. Bell’s errors are Bell’s errors, you can’t blame him for NOT saving Hanson’s errors

        • Catch 22- average tools for an outfielder, but not for a 2nd baseman, you have to use position value here. 10-12 HR for a second baseman is solid- 25-30 steals is as well. I’m not sold on his hit tool honestly, and i think he’ll be an average defender at first, and have the skill to be an above average fielder in a few years.

  9. If the adjustments Taillon made while rehabbing and showed in the few games that Tim commented on (SSS I know) then him throwing 94-98 + his secondary pitches I think he may still be better than Glasnow because of his control…and that Glasnow kid is pretty good 😉

    • The only thing that worries me is Taillon has never really been dominant anywhere yet. He’s been very good but you would like to see a guy with his stuff blowing people away. There is still plenty of time for that if he’s healthy. 2016 is going to be a year where the Pirates really find out how good their system and development is; Taillon, Glasnow, Hanson, Bell, Diaz, and possibly even Chad Kuhl expected to make contributions at some point. When have we ever seen a 98 win team with this many high level prospects with a chance to make an impact?

      • Neither was Cole in MiLB. I just mentioned that I saw several AA starts of Taillon’s where he was dominant and made hitters like Anthony Rendon and Manny Machado look pretty weak.

        • Some of it definitely comes down to the Pirates making them command the fastball and not throwing as much offspeed stuff while they are developing. Glasnow is just on another level of deception and dominance too which I think makes everyone look less dominant.

        • Yeah there was a lot of fuss about Cole not dominating and, ironically, talk about how he was more of a #2 and that Taillon has more upside.

          Which is funny, because its the same conversation now with Taillon as the guy who just hasnt dominated enough.

            • The scary thing is is that he’s not even close to a finished product and he was statistically the 8th best pitcher in the majors this year. I’m hoping next year includes 250+ K’s and a few complete game shutouts.

              • I don’t think the Pirates want their pitchers to throw that many Ks. Get the ground ball, and get the K when you really need to. Like bases loaded and no outs.

                • Well assuredly in the minors anyway. Seems like they prefer a guy to focus on his stuff rather than results. Focusing on fastball placement? Do it the entire outing regardless of if guys sit fastball. Working on offspeed stuff? Dont deviate.

                  Gotta be a bit odd for hitters once you get a handle on a guy who is throwing 75% fastballs or always throwing a curve on 2 strikes.

    • I saw Taillon in several starts while in AA, look a good deal better than Cole had a season before. We know how much G.C. has improved, and I am hoping we see the same progression in Taillon’s work. If it is anything like Tim had seen last Summer, and along with the addition of Glasnow, that Cub’s lineup might not be as fearsome as many in the baseball media are predicting in the future.

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