Pirates Place Three Among Top Corner Outfield Prospects

Baseball America wrapped up their position-by-position prospect rankings on Friday afternoon, posting the top corner outfielders. They have three Pittsburgh Pirates on their list, ranking Austin Meadows second overall, followed by Harold Ramirez at #12 and Willy Garcia is the 37th best.

While Austin Meadows has played center field his entire career, BA sees him as a future corner outfielder. That seems a little pessimistic on their part, as Meadows has the range and ability to play center field at a high level. Either way, he would have still ranked high if they put him on the center field list instead. The Pirates ended up with no one on that list, though all three players on today’s list have played center field. BA ranked Meadows as the 22nd best prospect on their top 100 list, and the fifth best outfielder. They praised Meadows by saying that he has the lowest risk among players on their corner outfield list due to his strong bat and defensive skills.

Ramirez was rated 95th by BA on their top 100 list, which is about the same area as everyone else had him. He just missed a couple lists and got ranked as high as 80th overall by one source.

Ramirez was the last of 12 corners outfielders who made the BA top 100 list, but they felt the depth at the two corner outfield positions warranted 45 spots on their list today. While the 37th spot means Willy Garcia was well outside their top 100 list(he didn’t get a single top 150 vote from any of their six writers), he is still considered a viable prospect. BA is actually higher on him than anyone else, ranking Garcia 12th in the Pirates’ system.

Earlier this week, we posted about BA’s lists for first basemen, second basemen and shortstops, following that up with their article on third basemen, which included two Pirates.

The complete list of position rankings from BA can be found below, with 13 Pirates making their lists:

Catchers: Reese McGuire #7, Elias Diaz #9

Right-Handed Pitchers: Tyler Glasnow #3, Jameson Taillon #30

First Base: Josh Bell #2

Second Base: Alen Hanson #5

Shortstop: Cole Tucker #21, Kevin Newman #22

Third Base: Ke’Bryan Hayes #5, Jordan Luplow #20

Corner Outfielders: Austin Meadows #2, Harold Ramirez #12, Willy Garcia #37

For comparison sake, you can see the position rankings from Keith Law here, which also has a brief rundown of the first three lists from BA at the bottom. This article on MLB Pipeline’s top outfielders, has links to the previous rankings from them. Meadows is listed as their fourth best outfield prospect.

  • its not really pessimistic as Austin will never be a center fielder in Pittsburgh, regardless of whether or not he can “play” the position adequately, not with Marte and Polanco in front of him

  • Osuna didn’t make another list.
    He’s a bum.

  • ArthurDayne
    March 4, 2016 3:17 pm

    Well pro Diaz crowd? Surprised Mcguires ahead on this one?

    • I like Diaz overall a bit more than McGuire, but i think we should come to expect McGuire to generally get prospect “ranked” higher at this point. He’s young and scouts love the defense, so that’ll get you a lot of benefit of the doubt from rankings.

      If its the end of this season and he hits like he did last year, and still is ahead in rankings id be shocked. Unless Diaz forgets how to hold a baseball bat.

    • McGuire hasn’t grown into his body yet, when it does, I think his offense will catch up with the rest of his game.

    • I’m not surprised… prospect lists love youth and upside. I still think Diaz should rate higher, but it’s because I use a different set of criteria that weights risk higher. Diaz is basically ready whenever, while McGuire has hurdles to clear. Diaz also hits better. But McGuire’s defense is reportedly better and scouts believe he will hit, so he gets rated higher.

      In the end it’s no big deal, it’s just fun to debate it as an intellectual exercise.

    • For the life of me…I can’t see why it’s an ‘either or’.

      They’re both very promising…one just happens to be much closer to helping the ML team.

      • ArthurDayne
        March 4, 2016 6:17 pm

        Tony Sanchez, Chris Stewart and Cervelli have changed how I look at catchers. Takes years for them to develop. Years. And health is something to watch.

        • Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. But I wouldn’t say that about just catchers…except for lights out players, I’m guessing most solid contributors don’t really take off until they’re in the mid-late 20s, regardless of position.

          For the studs, age is largely irrelevant.

          Russell Martin, Wieters, Norris, Grandal, Lucroy, etc., debuted at 23, Posey was up at 22, and Molina and McCann at 21.

          Heck Cervelli was up at 22. If he hadn’t gotten injury after injury after injury…my guess is he would’ve been well-established and the Pirates couldn’t have stolen him.

          What’s rare is to have a good catcher. The Pirates just had one, still have one, and have two in the pipeline. On the horizon is a very good defender who handles the bat adequately and a superb defender with absolutely no XBH ability. It’ll be interesting to see who makes the necessary adjustments.

          • ArthurDayne
            March 5, 2016 6:44 am

            I’m not a fan of your examples. Yea, some of them were up, but it took them time to adjust with the bat. Couple of those guys are bat more than defense, and Diaz has got to be considered the other way around.

            There’s a rule I have, after watching a lot of prospects fail from about 87-16. The jump from AAA to the show is the biggest leap. The handful of guys I know that played pro ball and the two or three that had a cup of coffee in the Show, said the speed of everything is just unreal once you get close, and ultimately arrive.

            I haven’t watched Diaz to make a call on anything yet obviously. But the fact is a lot of the current guys we all gush about aren’t gonna make it. I hope he goes out and makes an All Star game next year, but I think it could be three years before we know what we have.

            • Obviously the jump to the majors is the biggest deal but the depth of the Pirates system is ridiculous compared to previous years. A lot of the prospects we were high on then had significant holes and were exposed on arriving in the MLB. A guy like Willy Garcia might have been a Top 5 prospect in 98′ but we know his strike zone issues are going to hamper him. Now he is well down the list, yet he really does have MLB ability, but most likely as an extra outfielder. This regime is doing a much better job of drafting and developing players and I think they have improved in this area even in the last 3 years.

              • Meh. I don’t know Chris. Let’s just say we should start getting some answers in late June.

                I always cite Abraham Nunez, since you brought up 98. This was heralded guy out of Torontos system. I think rated in the 60s as a top 100 prospect. Glove was there, he just couldn’t hit.

                You just don’t know till they get about 1500 PAs in the show, what you have. We’ll see.

            • I wouldn’t disagree with anything you said…I was just taking note of the fact that you said it applied to catchers only.

              Sure, every once in awhile you get a stud player that comes up and takes over the game from season 1. But most guys do need that adjustment period. Heck, look at Keuchel or Kluber or, heck, even Polanco. Heck, Jose Bautista didn’t throw up an OPS+ > 100 until he was 29 and his homers miraculously jumped from 13 to 54….and it’s a very similar story with a guy like Chris Davis.

              I would also take it step further…not just that a lot of these guys are going to fail, but most of them are…well, at least fail to meet the ceilings we hope they have. But, yeah, I think we’re on the same page.

              • Scott Kliesen
                March 5, 2016 11:54 am

                “Miraculously jumped from 13 to 54…” By now don’t we all know how those miraculous jumps occur? Say what you will about me, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that MLB players everywhere but Toronto struggle to hit HR’s at that rate anymore.

                • I don’t know one way or the other.

                  Look at Donaldson and Martin. Both just posted their highest homerun totals….

                  But it could be stadium related. Josh Donaldson hit 18 road HRs in ’14 and 17 in ’15. His home HRs jumped from 11 to 24 in that span.

                  From ’14 to ’15, Russell Martin saw a slight uptick in road HRs…from 8 to 10, but that was with 7 more games played. However, his home HRs shot from 3 to 13.

                  That looks like a stadium bump to me.

                  But, if you look at Joey Bats and EE…

                  Bautista pre-2010:

                  .238 BA, 1 HR: 28.75 PA

                  post-2010:

                  .268 BA, 1 HR : 15.88 PA.

                  That’s really finding your stroke, I’d say.

                  EE exploded in his age 29 season as well…in 2012.

                  He went from a career .260 hitter with a HR:PA of 1:22.47 pre-’12 to a .274 BA and a HR:PA of 1:16.1.

                  Those are some dramatic improvements for both guys as they approached their 30s.

                  So, as I said…I’m not really sure which way this leans…I’m suspicious, but not convinced.

                  • Scott Kliesen
                    March 6, 2016 8:36 am

                    I’m more than suspicious. Joey Bats was on his proverbial last legs as a viable major-leaguer, and then Bam, he’s the best power bat in the game!

                    When has that ever happened naturally?

  • Gregory Bartoletti
    March 4, 2016 2:20 pm

    I think Peter Alonso would be a terrific pick if he’s available this June. The Pirates lost a lot of power in Alverez and currently don’t have a 40+ HR anywhere in their system. From what I’ve heard Alanso would be that guy. Plus he’s strong defensively.

    • piraterican21
      March 4, 2016 2:41 pm

      I like hot dogs.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      March 4, 2016 2:51 pm

      AJ Reed would look nice about now in the Pirates system….instead, we can only hope Conner Joe does something this year to help ease the pain of having drafted him over Reed…

      • I too really liked Reed before the draft and was surprised Pirates did not choose him. Joe did have that really good walk to K ratio last year-hoping his back troubles have ceased and he shows some pop this year. Reed is looking really good these days.

    • Something makes me think the Pirates aren’t really worried about 40 HR power.

    • I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting on Pirates drafting a big HR guy unless he also doesn’t strike out much. And if those guys exist, they probably don’t last until the 22nd pick.

    • We are now in the post steriod era – 40 home run guys are almost nonexistant

  • Can we get a breakdown of how the Cubbies and Red Birds faired in comparison to the Buccos farm? After all they are our main competition.

  • I like it! Nice to see some position players up the middle. Hopefully we’ve been drafting enough there that a few will stick and produce when the opportunity arises.

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