Last week we released the first edition of the 2018 Prospect Guide, which is an eBook this year. The first edition of the book included our top 50 prospects, along with the organizational depth chart, best tools, and 2017 recaps. We will be releasing the full book in February, right before Spring Training, along with some updates in between if the Pirates make some big trades. All of the updates are included in the price of the book, which is $19.99 this year. You can purchase your copy on the products page of the site.
Today, at 11 AM, I will be doing a live Q&A about the book so far, along with answering questions about prospects in the system. This discussion will be limited only to prospects and the recently released top 50. Any questions about Gerrit Cole, rebuilding, or any other rumors can be asked in their respective articles.
Leave your questions in the comments, and I will respond, starting at 11 AM.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
Kind of a late question – but I hope you answer. I am nervous to ask – but has something befallen Pat Lackey at WHYGAVS? I read his blog for a long time, but he has not updated in more than a year. I hope he is okay.
I thought I saw something about him discontinuing it, but I don’t remember why.
I oddly enough have the same memory
I’m really excited to see this group of prospects heading to WV this season with Lolo, Mitchell, Martin and Baz not to mention a few others. How do you compare this group to the 2012 group? And is this the best group since those guys?
It has a chance to be an incredible group, but it will matter just how many players they decide to challenge and then where everyone fits. You could see Braeden Ogle, Max Kranick, Domingo Robles, Ike Schlabach all there, plus Oneil Cruz, Edison Lantigua, Rodolfo Castro, Connor Uselton and some of the top guys from Morgantown. No idea where they are going to put everyone, but it guarantees a strong team for prospects.
I would like to see them push the college draftees from 2017 to Bradenton and move that GCL group to WV. I would think Uselton isn’t pushed because of the injury though. I think WV would be an aggressive push for Martin, but he had historical production in the GCL, if he were to excel in Low A, he could move into top 100 prospect lists.
In terms of analytic trends in baseball, the Pirates were able to excel at run prevention with their ground ball, pitch to contact, defensive shift scheme, but that strategy appears obsolete with the new strike zone and fly ball trends. Do guys like Kramer, Luplow or Moroff have a chance to excel in this era, or do the Pirates need to focus on the reaction to those strategies?
Let’s play hypothetical. Let’s say the Pirates make the deal with the Yankees for Cole. I know Tim has said in previous articles that he thinks Torres is too much for Cole. But let’s say the Pirates somehow find a way to pry him away from the Yankees. Is there any realistic chance that the Pirates could get both Torres and Frazier in return for just Cole? Or would the Pirates have to add to the mix such as Harrison?
George Harrison, Harrison Ford, and William H. Harrison, let alone Josh, wouldn’t get both Torres *and* Frazier.
No realistic chance. Yes, add to the deal you must. (In my best Yoda voice.)
…not related to 2018 guide but I just read an article saying Taillon changed back to four seam changeup grip. Any opinion/analysis on this?
Tim had a long and in depth article about Taillon’s changeup during Spring Training when he was trying to get used to the new grip. The last thing Taillon said was that if the two-seam grip didn’t work, he would go back to the four-seam. So I would take him switching back as it didn’t work, since that was the plan from the start. http://126.96.36.199/2017/02/jameson-taillon-is-working-on-a-new-changeup-grip-this-spring.html
Thanks! Should have searched before asking, my bad.
Have my hot-from-the-printer Prospect Guides in my hands…now let’s see if I can get any work done this afternoon. Will updates be listed as separate PDFs?
You can save them as separate PDFs, if you wish.
Thanks for the chat everyone! My girlfriend just went to the store, so I’m going to use this opportunity to play her Nintendo Switch, until she gets back and I have to give it up and work on the rest of the articles for this week.
Enjoy some Mario Tim, love the site have for years
Why is the question, why can a guy like polanco have so many tools and be an average player so far? By the way I know if you answer this every team has a spot on their staff for you
Hey tim. Thanks for all the quality content.
Only question I can think of is…. what kind of batting practice power has Craig shown? He obviously hasn’t shown it in games yet, but it’s just hard to believe that a big boy like him doesn’t have power in there somewhere.
He’s got some raw power. I’ve seen it in batting practice, and a bit in games. I don’t know if he needs a change in approach to tap into that more often, or if he needs a change in mechanics. He might be one of the guys I’m looking forward to talking with the most in the upcoming weeks/months, to see where he is with this.
Thanks Tim. Looking forward to reading your interviews and research on him.
If the Pirates go all-in on a rebuild, should they deal Felipe Rivero and if so what should they expect to get for him?
I’ll have an article about that tomorrow.
Awesome, looking forward to reading it.
Yes, trade him…he will never be higher than he is now, and a 78-82 win team doesn’t need the elite closer.
He certainly might help all of the young starters develop
I understand the thought, but I think Meccage will have a bigger influence…someone will give a king’s ransom for Rivero
I think 2018 is the perfect time to let Glasnow just go and pitch and see what he is capable of…I could be wrong but there seems to have been a lot of tinkering with him and for me that just needs to cease in the near term.
Question about the Cervelli contract…it just seems to be a bit exorbitant for a good many teams but down right ridiculous for the Pirates…any insights as to why he is being paid 10mil or so and there just seems to be a fair amount of options ever year in FA far cheaper….?
“I think 2018 is the perfect time to let Glasnow just go and pitch and see what he is capable of…I could be wrong but there seems to have been a lot of tinkering with him and for me that just needs to cease in the near term.”
I would generally agree with you, but I would also fear a Caminero type
melt down where we put too many opposing batters in danger.
The tinkering you describe is development. We saw what happens when he just goes and pitches. That happened in 2016. We saw what happened in 2017 when he was an unfinished project, making changes while adjusting to the majors. I’d like to see them continue adjusting him, and get to the point where hopefully they find something that clicks.
How do you know if something clicks if you do not just let him pitch and then after the year is over review and go from there.
They don’t just throw out changes based on nothing. They make changes exactly in the way you mentioned. They let him pitch, then they review and go from there. Any changes made will be a result of watching him pitch and evaluating the results to see if a change is needed.
Love the chat.
Should be a regular feature.
Thanks for all you do.
If Will Craig came on strong, would they move Josh Bell to the outfield to leave Craig at first? Or is Josh a permanent first baseman now.
Bell is a permanent first baseman. If Craig becomes an MLB option, they’d have a trade chip, either by dealing Bell and having Craig replace him, or by dealing Craig.
Who were the two prospects that got removed from the top 50 to make room for the Rule V guys?
I can’t really answer that, since we didn’t have a finalized list. Those last ten spots were filled by several different guys throughout the process. Also, I think we were down to 49 prospects when Angel Sanchez was removed, and never finalized the 50th guy before the meetings. So that was one of the spots.
Jacob Stallings was one of the guys in the final spots, and the only guy who lasted long enough to get a full write-up in the event he made the book. So we’ll just say Stallings.
What’s gone wrong with Elias Diaz that he no longer get a the hype he did a year ago?
He hasn’t seen the offense in Triple-A or the majors that he saw in Double-A, raising questions about whether he can hit enough to be a starter in the majors.
Thanks for chatting…Adams and Andujar and Frazier for Cole and Harrison, fair?…going retool, what would be fair return for Cutch?…if you’ve seen Lolo, is there a (early) comp?…thanks and Happy Holidays!
Not directed at you but generally -Why do we have to throw in Harrison to get three prospects that the Yankees are dictating to us who we can get. I’ve been reading that everywhere and I think Cole should be enough, the Yankees are getting a potential ace. I get the HRs and 4.00 era but he has legit ace and star potential with two years of control. That’s enough for all three. Harrison is an All-Star and recent 3-WAR player and peak 5-WAR player whose impact on the game isn’t always measurable. That’s an overpayment to me. Harrison should get a legit prospect in his own right.
It’s hard to give a comp for Lolo. I also don’t like doing comps. I think we’ll get a better feel for his upside after the 2018 season, which I expect will be spent in West Virginia. But I think there’s a chance of impact upside here.
When I looked at the tiered rankings, it seemed to me that only 6-8 prospects in the 2 lower tiers have the potential to move up a tier or more in the future. Is this view too pessimistic or pretty typical year to year?
It’s pretty typical. It’s difficult to accurately project the guys who can move up, and a lot of the guys who can be predicted to move up have already been moved up, just because it was easy to predict their move.
Look at what happened last year. Eduardo Vera and Oddy Nunez went from 2.0 to our top 30/50. We didn’t see that coming, because it required a totally unexpected change to each of their games. That’s typically what happens. Someone makes an unexpected change, and sees a big move. Impossible thing to predict.
Are any prospects invited to mini camp in January? If so which ones are you anxious to see? Btw what is the dates for that?
They always have people at Pirate City. There are probably people there right now. They’ve typically had prospects there for mini-camp in previous years, whether that’s the people who are there all the time in the offseason, or guys who are there for a brief amount of time with the MLB club.
As noted below, Meadows is one of the guys I’m looking forward to seeing. Also Nick Burdi, if he’s there, and Jordan Milbrath, just to get a first look at each.
Who is the international signee breakout candidate this year?
Jean Eusebio is the player to watch this year for a breakout. He has a lot of tools and his approach is very advanced for his age. He will be 17 for most of this upcoming season, which he will likely spend in the GCL. We posted an article about him earlier this month http://188.8.131.52/2017/12/jean-eusebio-gives-the-pirates-a-possible-breakout-player-to-watch-in-2018.html
I’d also watch for Francisco Acuna, the 17-year-old shortstop from Colombia who is part of our winter leagues coverage. He’s another player with tools and an advanced approach, plus a great work ethic. He should be the regular SS in the GCL this year.
Is he related to the Braves Acuna?
No, Ronald Acuna is from Venezuela
I’m going to let @piratesprospects-a87ff679a2f3e71d9181a67b7542122c:disqus take this one.
Morning all – I assume the Prospect Guide is on top of the subscription ? Want to make sure before I purchase ? Thanks
The Prospect Guide in eBook and the paperback, which will be available in limited numbers in February, are not part of the subscription. So they need to be purchased separately.
Thank you John – I have just purchased it
I second the thanks. Hope you enjoy it!
I’m a subscriber who bought the eBook AND the limited book. I’ve got prospect guides from ’14, ’15, ’16 and ’17 in my bathroom bookshelf and its a legacy project. Can’t do without the real book but MUST have the ebook as well.
A bathroom bookshelf? I find that very amusing for some reason.
A bathroom bookshelf is what nailed Walter White in Season 5 of Breaking Bad. Be careful, Wabbit.
Then I must thank you as well.
Newman and Craig. Disappointing 1st round picks or too early to tell?
I wouldn’t say that about Newman. He’s set to make his MLB debut at some point in 2018, which is three years after being drafted. He could also be an average shortstop. That’s a good result for a late first round pick.
Craig has been disappointing, and needs a serious overhaul in his swing to bring on more power in order to turn that around.
Does Craig need to change his swing mechanics, really, or is it more about his physicality holding him back, not having enough strength despite his size to tap into his power.
It might be the swing mechanics, but the approach might be the bigger thing. His approach right now is geared toward hitting for average and hitting to the gaps, rather than hitting for power.
What kind of overhaul? Anything specific he is doing wrong?
See my response to Darkstone.
Better bet for Meadows WAR:
2018: 3 > or or < 3
I could see him being less than 3 but greater than 1 in 2018, depending on when he comes up (assuming mid-season).
Peak years, I don’t think you can assume anything close to a 7 WAR with his health. But I think you can expect a 3+ WAR.
Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield, Kuhl, Williams, Holmes, Brault, Glasnow, Kingham.
If they get the Yankees prospects, then we’ll be rankings them in a future update in the book. That ranking process goes beyond just one person. And right now I’m not ready to rank Adams and Sheffield in relation to the rest of the guys in the system.
Do you think that Meadows, if he stays healthy, can regain his Above Average upside?
Btw……….Great idea doing a chat. Can’t wait to read the answers.
Yes. We have him docked for the health, and without the health questions I think he’d be in the majors right now, with impact upside. He’s one of the guys I’m looking forward to talking with the most in the next few weeks/months (depending on whether he’s at mini-camp), as he seems to be undergoing a new training regimen this offseason.
Expect a BSOHL story to follow. But really, I want to look at whether there was any analysis on his frequent injuries, and what types of solutions they came up with.
What do you see from Glasnow in 2018? Beyond?
Is there any audio you do since DT is no longer with ESPN? Any plans for a podcast?
Will Pirates get enough for Cutch to make it worthwhile to move him? Given the terrible market for COF last free agency, not a great return for Ozuna this year.
Glasnow is a mystery. He’s got the stuff and upside to be the best pitcher in the system, but enough holding him back that there could be questions about whether he could even make it in the majors as a reliever. He’s probably the most high beta guy in the system, with a massive range in his potential results.
Very limited audio right now. Most shows aren’t talking Pirates. That usually changes around Spring Training and the start of the season. No plans for a podcast right now, since it’s too time consuming.
I think the Pirates could get enough for McCutchen to make it worth moving him. They could get a top 100 prospect. Plus, if they move Cole, they’re not going to be contending with or without McCutchen. So you’d want to move him at that point.
I don’t understand your line of thinking about Cole. If they move him to the Yankees in the much discussed in the media trade, for Andujar, Frazier and Adams, then isn’t it theoretically possible that the Pirates would be better without Cole?
There would be 5 guys pitching at AAA that they could run through the 5th starter spot to find 1 that would work. Andujar should be an upgrade at third, and Frazier would be an upgrade as a 4th OFer.
Granted you are looking at a lot of things working out in order for this scenario to happen,but I don’t think trading Cole just instantly makes the Pirates worse next year.
I am wondering the same thing. Andujar by himself might be able to replace the 2017 Cole without us losing much.
Do you think Max M. will be an everyday player at the MLB level on opening day or will he start the year in Indy?
I think he’s got a good shot. He should open the year in the majors, at least as a bench option. That’s especially the case if there’s a rebuild and Harrison is gone. He might even be the Opening Day starter in that scenario.
I could see him splitting time with Sean Rodriguez to ease him into the role, with the chance to win a starting job. I think he could win the job. His defense is strong at second base, and the only question is whether his offense translates over to the majors. I’d point to his September results as a sign that this is already happening, but I’d want to see more than September results before making that claim.
Thanks, Tim. I am hoping things play out that way.
Has there been any discussion of changing Glasnow’s arm angle or repertoire of pitches to avoid encountering the same issues he has had in the past? It looks like big league hitters are teeing off on his straight four seam fastball regardless of velocity.
Glasnow has movement on his fastball, mostly in the downward fashion. He doesn’t have as much horizontal movement as guys like Cole or Taillon, but has much more sinking movement on the pitch.
He added a sinker in 2017, while also throwing his changeup more often. I actually think he could benefit from making a switch to the sinker, similar to what Taillon did. The pitch still sees a ton of downward movement, but has a lot more horizontal movement. It also had similar velocity, with a 94.3 MPH average (94.6 on the four seam) and a 97.9 max velocity (99.6 four seam).
However, that pitch was also hit hard, as was his changeup, which had a lot of movement. So the issue might not be the movement. It might be learning how to use those two new pitches in his overall mix.
Is there any thought at all within the organization that he might be tipping his pitches? It seems like a pitcher with his movement should not be getting hit around like Glasnow has in the majors.
That was a concern when he switched to a two-seam changeup, despite throwing a four-seam fastball. And if that is an issue, it could be countered by switching primarily to a two-seam fastball.
I saw an article about Glasnow using the smallest percentage of the strikezone of all Pirates starters. Could it just be changing eye level and not continually try to do nothing but use the bottom of the strikezone?
That would help, and that’s part of the Pirates’ approach. They’re not looking for guys to just pitch in the bottom of the zone. They’re looking to move all around the zone, with the belief that pitching down in the zone is the most difficult to do.
Glasnow has so much vertical movement that pitching up in the zone might be more difficult for him than most.
I didn’t realize until reading your prospect book that Gage Hinsz had a serious shoulder injury. He seemed like a high ceiling type of prospect. Any further updates about the shoulder injury prognosis? Do you believe the shoulder issues were the main cause of his troubles this year?
We won’t really know any further prognosis until seeing him in Spring Training, and seeing how he’s doing. The results weren’t good throughout the 2017 season. I do believe the shoulder was the main cause for that.
Which position do we lack high ceiling prospects? Which positions to aim for next draft? I saw the depth chart and it seemed like we needed more power 3B and C.
Oh, and I thought Uselton had better arm than Mitchell & Mitchell mainly handled LF this year but it says Uselton as LF and Mitchell as RF?
Catcher is the weakest position. They have Hayes at third base, but that’s another weak area, as you don’t want all of your eggs in one basket.
I might have to look into Mitchell and Uselton more. I was going off some of the early reports that had Mitchell as a potential right fielder.
I wondered if Uselton was marked as LF because he’s a better fielder (LF in PNC park). Thanks for answering.
One more question, I assume Kramer/Moroff’s rank difference is not significant at all but still, any reason why Kramer is ranked higher than Moroff? Moroff already reached the majors, has better speed, and works more walks? I guess Kramer has better power but Moroff showed good enough power when he’s aggressive?
I’ll admit to being high on Kramer. Not that we haven’t also been high on Moroff. There’s not much difference in their rankings, outside of preference. I go with Kramer due to more raw power, plus a better chance to hit for average and get on base. Moroff still raises questions for me about his selectiveness, which does lead to high walks, but also higher strikeout totals, and a lower average/OBP as a result.
Moroff looks like he could be a three-outcomes type of guy, only without the home run totals you’d see from a first baseman with three outcomes. Kramer seems more well-rounded.
What changes have you noticed with Kingham upon his re hab return. I know he made progress and was pretty dominant later in the season. How his velocity looked post TJ? Do you still believe he can reach his mid rotation projection pre TJ?
I think the best answer for this would be linking to Brian Peloza’s article from the end of the season:
I don’t know if he’ll reach his mid-rotation projection, but I think he can still be a starter in the majors.
Do you see him as trade fodder, or will he get a legitimate shot in Indy/Pittsburgh? It almost “feels” like he has be passed up in the current numbers game.
I think he will get a better shot than others in the mix, but nothing is guaranteed with the amount of depth they have.
Also-didn’t he get awarded another option?
What is Taylor Hearn’s ceiling? What do you predict him being a starter or reliever? I k ow he is starter now, but is he rivero’s replacement eventually?
I think he could be a starter. He has top of the rotation stuff, but the control could limit him to a middle of the rotation at best upside. That same control could lower his upside enough that he could drop to a power reliever.
When I first saw him in West Virginia last year, I felt that it wouldn’t take much to get him to the majors as a power reliever, with the chance to pitch in the late innings. If they decided to make him a reliever, he could be up quickly, possibly even by the end of 2018. But there’s too much talent here to limit him that quickly. He should get a shot at the Altoona rotation in 2018, which will be a big test to determine whether he can be a starter or reliever in the future.
I have all of your Prospect Guides. Another great job! At what point do Kingman and Holmes finally contribute to Major League team? They are kind of forgotten at this point. Looks like they past their injuries now.
Thanks Paul! I think both can contribute this year. They should be the top depth options in the first half of the year, and either one could have a shot at the MLB rotation if an injury comes up. If they don’t make it as a starter this year, they should break in as relievers.