Q&A on the Pirates Prospects and the 2016 Prospect Guide

The 2016 Prospect Guide was released about two weeks ago, and by now most of you who bought the book have had a chance to go through it, and maybe even read all 166 pages. If you haven’t bought the book yet, you can do so on the products page of the site. Top Prospect subscribers get the book for free this year. Annual subscribers get $10 off. And both of those plans receive the eBook for just $5. If you’d like to subscribe or upgrade to one of those plans, you can do that on the subscription page.

Now that enough time has passed for people to get their books and start reading, I wanted to do a Q&A about the farm system and the book. The Q&A was held this morning in the comments of this post, and the answers can be found below. We might do this again in the future, opening it up to all topics for the future chats.

Analysis

  • Thanks Tim we should do this type of thing more often.

  • Tim, make something happen. I’m bored.

  • Tim … I also love the idea but … Didn’t you say in today’s first pitch that this would be tomorrow at 10AM?

  • I love this format, thanks for answering our questions. One more for you: I noticed in the guide that Kevin Newman was named SS to the “All Power” lineup. I was under the impression that Newman had virtually no power in his game. Is the system truly without a single minor league SS capable of 8-12 HRs a year someday?

  • Kazmir to LAD for 3 yrs $48M. 🙁

    • Slim Pickens. Latos or Gallardo look like the best remaining. Front office is gambling at least one of the minor leaguers step up and perform at least as well as AJ

  • Another hat tip to the Prospect Guide: yearly draft spending dating back to 2008.

    Take out the extremes of the pre and post draft cap years (2011 & 2012) and there’s “only” a $2.2m difference in average draft spending. Surprised me just how little the Pirates are actually saving with these new rules…making them that much dumber.

    • I would say ineffective. Dumber seems harsh since it’s not my money. But your point is well taken.

      • The rules that much dumber, that is…the Pirates are only one team – maybe others have seen a bigger impact – but is this whole mess really worth it for what amounts to one Ryan Vogelsong or Sean Rodriguez? Has the MLBPA really even benefited in practical terms?

  • I really enjoyed this, and hope to see more Q-A from time to time. Maybe even Indianapolis or Altoona specific after one of you guys spends a little time there.

  • That wraps things up for me, for now. If anyone wants to leave a question for later, feel free. However, I’ll be working on tomorrow’s 2016 preview article, so no guarantee that I get to it. Thanks for all of the questions! We might do this again in the future, opening it up to all topics going forward.

  • One of my favorite parts of the prospect guide is listing of the scout who signed each prospect.

    Are you familiar with the crosschecker(s) and can you comment on them if so?

    • The crosschecker info isn’t available, so I don’t really have any comments on that part. The only info that ever gets released is the signing scout. It’s hard to say who else had input beyond that.

      I’ve thought about an article summing up the best prospects signed by each scout. Might have that in the upcoming week, sort of as an addendum to the book.

      • I’d be fascinated in a piece on the crosscheckers, themselves and their role within the org. There can’t be a more influential position in the organization that literally nobody apparently knows about, even down to names.

        Start buying beers and beating ears. 😉

  • Love the Guide and thank you very much for the free copy this year. One little thing I’d like to see added is a home town and state for the US players if that’s possible.

    • I had the same thought. It would show if warmer states produce more prospects due to more development. The high schools are listed but not their location

  • dgarshaw@gmail.com
    December 30, 2015 1:33 pm

    Tim, please affirm for us that Josh Bell this off-season is fielding thousands of low throws and groundballs. Thanks for your insights.

    • If he’s at mini-camp in a few weeks, then I’ll have an update on exactly how many ground balls he has fielded this off-season.

      • IF he is at mini-camp????????

        • Mini-camp isn’t mandatory, so you can’t assume any particular player will be there. Bell will likely be there, but he doesn’t have to be

          • That’s my point..he doesn’t HAVE to be there, but he really ought to be there…..

            • Well Tim isn’t going to say he will be there when he doesn’t know for sure. Wouldn’t be responsible to say he will be there unless he knows for sure he is there. I could tell you the names of some players I’ve talked to who will be there, but Bell isn’t one of those players I talked to.

            • Last year he wasn’t at mini-camp, but showed up the following week. So I’m optimistic he’d be there.

  • Since the Pirates have many of these players for several years, I’d like to see somewhere in the bio section how the player is tending. How have they faired since thier first or previous rank/tier rating. I find myself constantly going back to previous editions trying to figure out their progression through the system.

  • The Pirates need to acquire left handed pitchers — good ones, of course. The current list is short, and lacks an obvious Frankie replacement.

    I’d not separate Glasnow from the players in tier Two. There are very talented players in that group — multiple potential All Stars, in fact. Glasnow may have the highest ceiling of the lot, but does his ceiling merit the major distinction you have given him.

    • It’s not just us separating him. Glasnow is a top ten prospect in all of baseball. The guys in tier 2 are in the 20-50 range, with most falling in the 30-50 range.

      This is similar to how we separate the trade values of guys in the top 100. The guys in tier 2 are very talented, but the guys in tier 1 are elite and considered the best in the game.

      • Well, I’ve never cared much for the manner in which trade values are assigned to prospects. I mostly dislike using Top Prospect lists. One could believe they have the objectivity of a crowd sourced identification of player value. But they also often reveal the weaknesses of this technique: The insularity of a specific crowd; the size effect of the crowd; presence of bandwagon effects; the threat of groupthink and other biases.

        The prospect community is insufficiently diverse and large to overcome these problems. While, one may grant that the prospect community does find all off the best prospects, the tiered rankings apart from but within that category are far less reliable.

        For instance, I have greater confidence in Taillon today than I had before his injury and rehab. I’d consider his bust risk as being lower than Glasnow’s while his improved mechanics should enable him to best use the considerable power in his right arm. He is, to my mind, an elite prospect — again.

        • and you would be wrong,glasnow has 2 plus plus pitches and tallion may have 2 above average pitches and has been injured for 2 years straight. also look at there minor league stats, where is tallion been better than glasnow at at any level.

          • Taillon will have two plus pitches when he returns. He’ll also have better command and control than Glasnow. The time Taillon missed due to injury will have no long term effect on his ML career. The work he put in during his rehab will have an effect — a good one.

  • My concern with the prospects in the system is the same concern I have for the Major League Club right now. There seems to be no power in the system, top to bottom. Is this simply a product of drafting lower, or does it reflect an organizational shift that does not prioritize power?

    • Check the other answers for my response on the lack of power. I don’t want to say that teams can win without power, based on a few examples in 2015, but it definitely seems like teams are willing to look beyond power at other ways to win.

  • Not a prospect question but I’ll take a shot – how did you meet John? I can remember other writers being introduced but I don’t remember a time on this site before John and maybe WTM.

    • Same way we’ve brought on most of the writers. He was in contact with me early in the site days via e-mail, and when I decided to expand and add writers, he joined the site. Since then he has turned into an invaluable member of the site.

      John and Wilbur joined at the same time, and that was in 2010, which is probably why you can’t remember a time before them.

      • I think I started reading about 2012. JAL (I think) posted something to the PPG comment section. I clicked on it and it was a whole new source of information. I’d like to buy that man a beer. As I’ve said a zillion times I don’t live in Pittsburgh so it’s hard to get good information on prospects. Thanks for all the hard work over the years to you, John and everyone.

  • Reading all these answers to the questions is like getting an addendum to the Prospect book.

    Perhaps these can be catalogued somewhere on the site, sorta like a FAQ?

    There’s some really good stuff here.

  • If the Prospect Guide was issued after the winter leagues, do you think any of the performances (or lack of performance) would have raised or lowered any of the prospect rankings for 2016?

    • Not really. We don’t put a lot of stock in the winter league results as far as altering where a prospect is ranked. There are some rare cases where a good winter can confirm your value. For example, Jose Osuna was in the 45 range in our early drafts of the top 50. He remained in the same tier, but moved from the bottom of that tier to close to the top. A big reason for this was because we took a closer look at his ranking and upside, and gave him a late bump. That said, nothing really changed for his grade or tier, and as I say a lot, those are the things I put a much bigger focus on.

      The winter leagues are kind of a continuation of the regular season. The games don’t matter at all in the scope of MLB performance, just like the minor league games don’t really matter. You want to see good performances, but most guys aren’t getting enough playing time to make a difference. Using Osuna as an example again, he has 212 at-bats. That’s about half a season in the minors. We wouldn’t give a guy a huge boost in value with just half a season of work, especially when his value is already based on similar success in Bradenton and Altoona this year.

      Another example for this point would be Luis Heredia. His control has been horrible this year, and he’s pitched 20 innings. That’s not a lot to alter his value, but his value was already low because those same issues existed during the regular season.

      The only example where a player’s value changed this year was Rojas. He saw a slight bump in his value with a strong winter performance, although this was primarily “Let’s give him another shot, even though he stepped back this year by getting demoted to Altoona”. Even in this case, it was because of his former upside, and his raw tools. The winter performance just got us relying on that for at least one more year.

  • MLB.com rated 2015 college players like RHP Jacob Taylor, OF Casey Hughston and LHP Brandon Waddell in their top 30, not to mention Newman and Hayes….the draft didn’t felt strong to me but apparently it did to others, how do you honestly feel about that draft?

    • I was on record as not liking the 2014 draft. The draft has improved a bit since draft day, but is still lacking in high upside talent, and has a lot of question marks.

      I liked the 2015 draft better, due to more high upside. We had Waddell in our top 30, but Taylor and Hughston weren’t there yet. I like both of those guys, but the injury for Taylor and the strikeout issues for Hughston held them back. They’re both high upside guys though, just with a lot of risk.

      What really made the 2015 draft for me was Hayes. Newman and Kramer look like guys who might end up as utility players, but have a shot at being starters due to the entire package and their strong defense at premium positions. Hayes seems like a guy who has a strong chance at starting at third, with plus defense that will give him a lot of value, and the potential to add some power in the future. We rated him above Newman, which really didn’t matter from the tier perspective, but was more of a statement that Hayes is slightly a better prospect right now.

      I also like the top ten round picks of Waddell, Brubaker, Tolman, and McGarry. Then you’ve got high upside lottery tickets like Ike Schlabach, Nathan Trevillian, and James Marvel, if he returns well from Tommy John. Logan Hill is my sleeper from this draft, and another big reason that I like this one better than the 2014 group.

      It’s funny though. I asked a lot of scouts and prospect writers about the 2014 and 2015 drafts. There were some who didn’t like the 2014 group and thought the 2015 group was better. Others didn’t like the 2015 group and preferred the 2014 class. No one was overly high on either class, to the point where the groups would challenge 2011 and 2013. But there seems to be a divide here where you either like one or the other, or hate both. I’ve yet to talk to someone who really liked both years.

  • Keller, Roth, Heinz and Kowolski have not shown much. Are they more hype then prospect? I see the next wave being Escobar and Garcia.

    • They are what they are — young, projectable pitchers with high upsides but a lot of risk. Two of those guys just finished their first full seasons in pro ball, while being limited due to minor injuries. Roth saw a big boost in velocity this year, and cut down on his control problems a bit.

      Overall, these guys are lottery tickets. You draft enough of them, and one of them might work out in a big way. But most of them won’t. Some might work out in a smaller way. And you can cash some of them in early for short-term help, as the Pirates did with Trey Supak for Jason Rogers.

      I wouldn’t put Garcia in this same class. I do like Escobar, and think he could be in the Keller/Hinsz group next year, although he’s going to need to show much better consistency with his control. That was hidden by a mid-90s fastball in the GCL, but will be a problem for him in the upper levels if he doesn’t show improvements.

  • Tim, MLB Network about to do a story on Taillon. They are going to scoop your scoop.

    • Not really a question here, but I’ll share that our Taillon coverage has been one of my favorite parts of this site. For one, there was the story on the evolution of his delivery that I did in the Spring: https://www.piratesprospects.com/2015/03/the-evolution-of-jameson-taillons-delivery.html

      That’s an article that takes years of coverage and conversations just to know what to write about, and to know what to ask Benedict and Taillon. That’s an advantage we have, and something that wouldn’t be possible with other sites who don’t follow the system this closely.

      Then there was his rehab work. I literally was the only media member at any of those outings. I may have been the only Pittsburgh media member to see him pitch this year, outside of people who saw him throw bullpens in Spring Training. Even in those cases, there were very few people watching him.

      I say that we have info no one else has on all of the prospects, but in Taillon’s case, that information is huge. It’s part of the process where I cover him and other top prospects with the same focus that Pittsburgh media puts on Andrew McCutchen. By the time he gets on their radar for regular coverage, we’ve covered everything. That’s always something I’m proud of.

  • Where was Tyler Glasnow’s changeup at end of 2015 season vs start of the year? Is he still essentially a 2 pitch pitcher? As elite as his fastball/curve can be the guy I saw at Indy last year looked like he would have a lot of trouble at the major league level. Really not sure how much we should expect from him in 2016.

    • He saw some improvements with the pitch throughout the year. One issue with the pitch is that he needed to drop velocity. There were times at the start of the year where he was hitting 90-91 MPH with the offering, which makes it a slower fastball. The Pirates want him working in the 86-88 MPH range, and he was doing that more often in the second half. He also needs to throw the pitch for strikes on a more consistent basis early in the count, which is also an issue with the curveball.

      The changeup isn’t there yet from a consistency standpoint. He can dominate guys with the fastball/curveball, but that will be more difficult in the majors without the changeup. He can get to the point where that could be a good enough pitch to make him a top of the rotation guy. Having Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon in the system should help. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the changeup, it’s that pitchers tend to see a lot of improvements consulting with other pitchers about grips, techniques, etc. Cole came in with a good changeup that needed some tweaks. Taillon didn’t have a changeup and has made some strides developing the pitch. Having those two power arms to bounce ideas off of will help Glasnow.

  • Tim, what kind of impact do you see from Willy Garcia with the ML club? Is he the top option to replace one of the starting three if one of them goes down with an injury?

    • With this outfield, his upside would be a strong fourth outfielder, with the chance to step in as an injury replacement. He will need to cut down on his strikeouts in order for that to happen. He did a good job of that in Altoona this year, but still hasn’t shown the ability to cut down on strikeouts AND hit for power at the rate which makes him a prospect. This is another case of a guy being young, just like Hanson, so he’s still rated high due to the tools more than the results. He would need to make a lot of quick strides to have an impact on the club in 2016, but I could definitely see him factoring in the mix in 2017.

  • I thought Cole Tucker did a tremendous job holding his own in A ball at 18 this year, especially in the second half. I hadn’t realized how serious the labrum injury was and how much that jeopardizes his ability to play SS long term. If Tucker were to return to SS and show that his arm is plenty strong to handle it, where would he fit in your rankings?

    • Tucker definitely dropped a bit due to the injury. He would have been in the top part of tier 3 if there were no concerns about his ability to play shortstop. That would have put him with guys like Elias Diaz, Nick Kingham, and ahead of Kevin Newman.

      This year he didn’t do well in the first two months, but really hit well in June and July, which was impressive because of the age. He might not return until late in the second half in 2016, which could put him on path to make the jump to Bradenton in 2017 in his age 20 season. That’s still young, but loses a bit of the projectable value he currently has. He’d need to continue his second half hitting and show he can play shortstop to rise in value, or really improve his hitting if he can’t play short. He doesn’t project to be a high power guy, so he’ll have to do a great job hitting for average and getting on base, especially if you remove a lot of the defensive value by shifting him over to second.

  • Zips seems to be really high on Brault. Is there any chance he could have meaningful opportunity for a callup in 2nd half of the year? Does he even start season with Indy this year?

    • I think Brault will start back in Altoona. Right now the rotation in Triple-A would definitely include Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon. Kyle Lobstein will be in the mix, just because he’s an early season option as depth for the MLB rotation. I could see them adding one more guy for early season depth. That would leave one rotation spot remaining for Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault, and Trevor Williams. Brault is the only one of the three who hasn’t jumped to Triple-A, which gives him the lowest odds of the group to make the jump at the start of the year.

      That’s not a bad thing, long-term. A lot of guys have started in Altoona and have made the majors that same year. Jeff Locke is one immediate example I can think of from the pitching side. Brault will definitely be in Indianapolis by June, and possibly earlier depending on promotions and injures. But no matter where he starts, it might be difficult for him to make the majors this year.

      Assuming the Pirates add another starter, Brault would be low on the depth chart. You’d have Cole, Liriano, Niese, Locke, Vogelsong, and the other starter, if added. Then you’d guess that Glasnow and Taillon would be ahead of him for promotions. That puts him ninth on the depth chart for the second half.

      I think it’s more likely he arrives in 2017.

  • Hi Tim, love the work on the site and the prospect guide, great stuff! I’m relatively new to the site and I’ve heard a number of people talk about the impact Josh Bell had on the draft system. Can you elaborate on how things worked before that and how they’ve changed? Thanks!

    • I can handle this one. Before the Pirates gave Josh Bell 5 million reasons to not go to Texas for college there was a draft slot recommendation, but you could really sign anyone at any draft slot to any amount of money at no penalty. Now there are strict draft pick losses if you sign a guy for x amount of dollars over slot.

    • Pretty much what Yutz said. The draft spending was increasing, and it was getting to the point where some free agents were getting completely ignored, while teams were spending $8 M+ on high school and college guys. I remember talking to a scout a few years ago who was astonished that Jermaine Dye couldn’t get a job, but teams were just handing over $6-8 M to guys who had never thrown a pro pitch.

      We know that this is a smart approach for a small market team. The Pirates could have given $8 M to Jermaine Dye in 2011, and $5 M to someone else on a one year deal, but they were better off giving $8 M to Gerrit Cole and $5 M to Josh Bell. They spent $17 M in 2011, setting a new draft record, but that record would have probably been broken if the old system remained in place. The biggest impact there was Bell, who shattered a post-first round bonus record by getting $5 M.

      This might be a bit conspiracy theory style, but the MLBPA saw money going to these non-MLBPA members, and wanted a change. They used the earning power of amateur players as a chip in negotiations, limiting costs in both the draft and international markets in the CBA that followed the Bell draft. The alternative would have been that you would have seen the prices of amateur guys continue to increase. That said, they would have never touched the ridiculous levels of current free agent prices, which makes the change very hypocritical.

      The Pirates spent $17 M and they ended up with Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow, and other players who could make the majors in the future. I’ll take that result over the top free agent deals that are being signed right now.

  • How much have the Josh Bell rules hampered the Bucs efforts to sign high upside guys? I would guess the new rules coupled with drafting later would make your job a little less fun 3 or so years from now.

    • They’ve still been able to sign some high upside guys. The biggest changes are:

      **They can’t take a guy like Bell who falls to the second round. Teams are still doing this, but only teams at the top of the draft who save some of their first round slot money are able to pull this off.

      **They can’t take as many over-slot prep guys, and the guys they take have to go higher in the draft. Guys who used to go in the fifth round are now going in the second or third round, to match up with the slot amounts.

      That said, it would have been interesting to see their approach picking lower in the draft with the old system. The lower drafting position could have resulted in a lower first round bonus, leaving a lot of money for over-slot guys in the later rounds.

      I’ve answered two questions about the all-contact, low power guys they’ve been drafting. I think that this is the biggest impact to the new system, as they seem to be going a bit heavier on this approach (an approach they’ve always had), since those players are more affordable under the new system. Even with that approach, they were able to get Casey Hughston, Jacob Taylor, Ike Schlabach, Nathan Trevillian, Ryan Nagle, and James Marvel in the 2015 draft, with all of those guys being over-slot candidates in former years.

  • Great idea, Tim. Very much appreciate you taking the time.

    Can you comment a bit on the placement of the ’13 college bats? I was surprised to see Suiter and Suchy drop out of the Top 50 completely and Luplow into the 30s after all posting good seasons and particularly showing the contact/OBP qualities the club seems to now be valuing. More a matter of defensive value, or lack there of?

    • Part of this is due to their placement, which isn’t their fault entirely. We’re typically conservative on college bats until they start putting up good numbers in Altoona. The fact that they were college hitters spending their entire first full year in West Virginia didn’t help their rankings.

      Suchy was a guy that almost made our top 50. I mentioned him in the tiers question below as a guy who would be ranked with the guys in the 47-50 range. I’ve talked to some scouts who aren’t high on him, which impacted his rating. He did have a strong second half, and I saw some things live that I liked, specifically his strong ability to go opposite field.

      Luplow might have deserved to move higher. He pretty much remained in the same spot as last year. I’d need to see better improvements from his defense at third, and that his second half hitting was legit in order for that to happen in my own rankings. If he improves at third, or shows he can continue to hit like his second half, then he could be a top 20 prospect next year.

      Suiter is a strong hitter, but lacks power and lacks strong defense. He’s limited to a corner position, where he would need the power, or really strong hitting, and I’m not banking on the latter based on his Low-A numbers. He has played some third base, and that would increase his value if he could play at that position. However, he’s behind Luplow, and then I think Connor Joe would have priority before Suiter got a shot there.

      These are all interesting hitters who could move up in the rankings with success in the higher levels. That’s the biggest thing holding them back right now.

  • Do think Tim Lincecum would be a good reclamation project for the Pirates? He is supposed to have a workout in January. He had surgery that supposedly addressed his drop in velocity. Two time Cy Young winner and three time World Champ.

  • Can you explain the huge disparity between Alan Hanson who I think is overhyped and Adam Frazier who didn’t break the top 20?While Frazier was older for the level the numbers he put up at Altoona were far better than Hanson and similar to Matt Duffy at same age. Hanson had a sub 600 OPS in 3 of his last 4 months last year at Indy.

    • Age is the big thing. Hanson was in his age 22 season this year in Indianapolis. Frazier was in his age 23 season in Altoona. Imagine how good Hanson’s numbers would be if he was in High-A this year, and making the jump next year to Altoona in his age 23 season.

      There’s a real downside to guys like Hanson who become real prospects at such a young age. For one, it seems like they’ve been around forever, when the reality is that those guys are usually still the youngest at their levels (Gregory Polanco in the majors, Willy Garcia also in Triple-A as two other examples). And when they run into problems (which every prospect does, and which is even more likely when you’re one of the youngest at your level), then the combination of them being around forever and the shine wearing off the new toy leads to a perceived drop in value.

      Most guys we rate in the upper levels are rated more for their stats than potential. Hanson is one of the few cases where we still haven’t fully seen his potential, and the stats in his first season in Triple-A don’t tell the full story.

  • I like yuedy garcia in the top 5.

    • He’s not there yet for me. The breakout season was great, but I still need to see his slider show improvements, and I’d like to see how he fares against upper level guys.

      I will say that Garcia is the guy I’m looking forward to the most next year in Bradenton, and if he continues this upward trend in Bradenton and possibly Altoona, then he could end up in the top 5 this time next year, especially if Glasnow, Bell, Taillon, Hanson, and Diaz are no longer prospect eligible.

  • Do you think that teams are starting to put less importance on power and more importance with getting on base in general. Just this past season we saw the Pirates, Cards, and Royals all finish in the bottom third of the league in HR’s and neither of those teams finished lower than 13th in OBP.

    • I don’t know if I’d say that based on the results of one year. My theory here is that power is becoming rare, at least in the sense of finding a guy who can hit for power while also doing other things well. More and more, the guys who hit for power only, like Pedro Alvarez, are being neutralized by two things, both defense related.

      First, there’s the defensive shifts, which help to marginalize the overall value of guys like Alvarez, making them rely more and more on their power alone at the plate, or change their approach to move away from power and become a more complete hitter. Then there’s the focus on defense, which further reduces the value of some power-only guys for NL teams.

      I think teams also understand that you can win in more than one way. The Royals were successful with a team that had a ton of speed, got on base a lot, and played good defense. It would be great if you could add power to that, but usually the guys who can add power to a mix of speed, defense, and getting on base are the stars in the game.

      Right now it still seems like it’s cheaper and easier to win without a focus on power. That might be shifting, since all-power guys like Pedro Alvarez and Chris Carter were both non-tendered, while Mark Trumbo got a very small trade return. Even Chris Davis is having issues getting a massive contract, and I don’t feel that would have happened a few years ago.

      I answered Lee’s question earlier about the approach in the system and why the Pirates take that approach. If the approach works, then they’ll have a lot of good hitting, high OBP guys who can add speed and play defense. That’s something that can provide success in the majors if you have enough of those guys, and the Pirates are drafting these guys in a large enough quantity that a few of them should eventually work out.

      • A third reason related to defense is more of a focus on pitchers with good GB rates. The Pirates were among the first to adopt this approach but it seems to be spreading. For example, when I read about pitcher transactions now, GB rates are almost always given right after K and BB rates.

  • Outstanding job on the prospect guide this year as always. Keep up the great work boys.

  • Why the move away from power guys to the “all contact”, athletic guys? We have very little power in the system.

    • I think part of this has to do with their drafting position. They’re picking lower in the first round, which means they’re not getting the high upside bats at the top of the draft like they did before with Meadows, McGuire, and Bell (with the latter being due to the old system that allowed them to spend whatever they wanted).

      They’ve always gone after guys who lacked power, but had good contact skills, gap power, some speed, and could play a premium defensive position. Harold Ramirez was an example of this in 2011. Some scouts didn’t like him because of the lack of power for a corner outfield spot, but they liked the total package enough that they felt Ramirez would end up a good player without the power. I can also think of Wyatt Mathisen (2012 draft), Max Moroff (2012 draft), Adam Frazier (2013 draft), and a few others as examples pre-2014 that fit this trend.

      This approach has really stood out the last two years because of the selections of Cole Tucker and Kevin Newman in the first round. They’ve also gone a little heavier on these types beyond the first round, but I think that’s just a result of taking fewer pitchers in those rounds. That said, they still have some power guys that they’ve drafted. Casey Hughston and Connor Joe are both guys who would profile more in the power department than the “all contact” department. Both have a lot of raw power potential, putting them in a different class than guys like Newman, Kevin Kramer, and even Ke’Bryan Hayes.

      As for the approach, the Pirates believe in getting guys who can hit first, and they believe that power in the form of extra bases is fine. They also believe that power might come later in some of these cases. A guy like Newman isn’t going to add home run power, but a bigger guy like Mitchell Tolman or Logan Hill might add that power in the upper levels as they continue to mature and develop.

      And for the overall impact, check my soon to come answer above to Stephen Cope.

      • Is there any reason why other than Alvarez, there really hasn’t a “power hitter” drafted in many years in the last 6-7 years…..drafting players that could develop power is a crapshoot after all

        • Maybe Alvarez is the reason!

        • I’d guess it’s more a function of the player type their looking at, i.e. athletes at premium positions. Those kids *with* big power already typically aren’t late first round picks, at the earliest.

        • Steston Allie was drafted as a pitcher but showed power when moved to the OF. Was at Altoona last year and not sure if he was released or will be back at Altoona. He had a lack of av. and SO a lot.

  • With the trade of Supak and Broxton, who moves into the top 50?

    • I’m not exactly sure. As I’ve mentioned pretty much every year in the book, I do not like the numerical rankings. This is an example of why. If you look at the tiered rankings, some of the players in Tier 7 are ranked at the end of the top 50 and some aren’t. The guys who would move up into the list would come from that group. If the book wasn’t published yet, I’d split some hairs and make a decision on adding two guys, with the input of some other writers on the site.

      The guys who just missed the list from that tier are: Jason Creasy, Michael De La Cruz, Taylor Gushue, Seth McGarry, Ty Moore, Mel Rojas Jr., Casey Sadler, Angel Sanchez, Ike Schlabach, John Sever, Jacob Stallings, Michael Suchy, and Jacob Taylor.

      We usually use the last few spots in the top 50 to profile some high upside guys. This year it was Pablo Reyes, Luis Escobar, Tito Polo, and Carlos Munoz. So if the book wasn’t published yet, we might continue that and take a high upside guy like Jacob Taylor, Ike Schlabach, or Michael De La Cruz. There are also higher floor guys in the back of the top 50, and one of the guys I considered for the list was Jacob Stallings, just because it seems like a strong bet that he’ll make the majors as a backup catcher one day, with that Chris Stewart clone working out for him. It’s not high upside, but a guy who has a strong chance to make the majors and stick around should be ranked among your best prospects.

      The easy answer here is that you can pick any two from that list, or you can interchange some of the guys in the current 47-50 group with anyone you like better from the guys who were left off the list.

      • Stallings is a guy I’ve pulled for since he was drafted. Appears to be unselfish, works with the pitchers, has a little bit of bat, is above average defensively and wasn’t a high profile pick. IIRC, he signed for $20K. He’s kept after it.
        Montana DuRaypu (oops on the spelling) is another. The Pirates have concentrated on starting pitching and he might make it to the show as one of the few relief options currently available. This season will likely tell where his future lies.

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