Morning Report: Updated Farm System Rankings

Baseball America posted their updated farm system rankings on Wednesday afternoon. I’ve been asked numerous times recently where I think the Pirates rank among all 30 farm systems in baseball. That’s a tough one for me to answer because I only follow the Pittsburgh Pirates.

My usual answer is that they ranked around 11-15 for most people coming into the season and they graduated a lot of top 30 prospects to the majors this year, so they are probably ranked a little lower than the start of the year. They haven’t added more talent than they graduated, and they didn’t have many breakout prospects. They also didn’t have many disappointing seasons, so I didn’t expect a big drop. At least according to Baseball America, my assumptions were correct as far as placement.

The new BA list has the Pirates ranked as the 16th best farm system in baseball. That places them right between the Oakland A’s (15th) and New York Yankees (17th). It’s actually where BA had the Pirates in their last rankings, so they didn’t move. They were a bit tough on the Pirates compared to most sources, only putting two players in their top 100, while others had 3-5 Pirates on their top 100 lists. They current have three Pirates in their top 100, with Mitch Keller leading the way, followed by Oneil Cruz and Ke’Bryan Hayes.

As far as National League clubs, the Pirates rank eighth overall. In their division, the Cincinnati Reds rank sixth, St Louis Cardinals 13th, Milwaukee Brewers 22nd and Chicago Cubs 28th. No matter what way you look at it, the Pirates are in the middle.

Being in the middle really isn’t bad if you look at the bigger picture. The Pirates are a young team at the Major League level, and they traded some of their top young talent for controllable players at the trade deadline last week. When that happens, you farm system will suffer, but the organization as a whole becomes stronger.

What the Pirates need to do now is develop more of the lower level prospects into legit prospects. That should be helped by the larger international bonus pool, which has already resulted in the Pirates giving out eight bonuses of at least $350,000 to 16-year-old prospects since July 2nd. They also gave a $1.2 M bonus to Ji-Hwan Bae, which is the highest bonus they have handed out to an international amateur position player. The added ability to spend more should result in better prospects on the international side, and a better farm system overall.

For those who haven’t yet purchased our mid-season prospect guide, Tim Williams wrote two articles for the book that look at the current state of the system and the changes since we put out of 2018 Prospect Guide.

** The Arizona Fall League released their schedule yesterday and they will play 30 games this year. Almost all of them are early afternoon games, but there are three night games. If you missed it from yesterday, the Pirates will be affiliated with the Surprise Saguaros this year and Altoona’s pitching coach Bryan Hickerson will be on the coaching staff. The players being sent by the Pirates will be announced in about three weeks. As always, we will have game recaps for all 30 games and the Fall-Stars game on November 3rd.


The Pirates are in fourth place in their division, trailing by 7.5 games with 47 games left on the schedule. They trail the second wild card team by five games.

Indianapolis is in first place and they lead by 3.5 games with 25 games left in their schedule.

Altoona is in second place and trails by four games with 27 games left in their schedule. They lead the race for the second playoff spot by three games.

Bradenton is in sixth place and trails by 11.5 games with 24 games left in their schedule.

West Virginia is in sixth place and trail by 10.5 games with 26 games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team by six games and could make the playoffs if Lakewood wins the second half title and they finish second.

Morgantown is in sixth place and trail by 13 games with 24 games left in their schedule.

Bristol is in third place and trails by 5.5 games with 22 games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team, which also gets a playoff spot, by four games.

The GCL Pirates are in fourth place and trail by 8.5 games with 15 games left in their schedule.

The DSL Pirates1 are in sixth place and trail by 12 games with 15 games left in their schedule.

The DSL Pirates2 have been eliminated from the playoff race.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 4-3 on Wednesday afternoon over the Colorado Rockies. The Pirates now go to San Francisco for four games against the Giants. Ivan Nova will get the start today, coming off of his outing on August 4th when he allowed four runs over four innings against the St Louis Cardinals. The Giants will counter with left-hander Andrew Suarez, who has a 4.60 ERA in 105.2 innings, with 92 strikeouts and a 1.32 WHIP. In his last start, he gave up eight runs over five innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The minor league schedule includes the sixth start in Indianapolis for Mitch Keller. Batters are hitting .313 against him so far in Triple-A and he has a 1.90 WHIP. That’s compared to a .208 BAA and a 1.12 WHIP in Altoona this season. Eduardo Vera starts for Altoona. He gave up three runs in his last start. It was the first time since June that he allowed more than two runs in a game. Bradenton’s Evan Piechota allowed one run over seven innings in his last start. Travis MacGregor starts for West Virginia in their doubleheader.  MacGregor allowed two runs over six innings in his last start. That came after two straight outings in which he gave up a season high of four runs. Max Kranick gets the second game for the Power. He has issued one walk, while striking out 34 batters, in his last six starts combined.

MLB: Pittsburgh (59-56) @ Giants (57-58) 10:15 PM
Probable starter: Ivan Nova (4.49 ERA, 85:25 SO/BB, 118.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (64-51) vs Lehigh Valley (70-45) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (7.99 ERA, 30:14 SO/BB, 23.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (60-51) @ Trenton (64-50) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (4.62 ERA, 39:16 SO/BB, 64.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (50-58) vs Tampa (56-60) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Evan Piechota (4.94 ERA, 18:8 SO/BB, 31.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (56-52) @ Greensboro (54-55) 5:30 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Travis MacGregor (3.43 ERA, 72:16 SO/BB, 57.2 IP) and Max Kranick (3.71 ERA, 58:14 SO/BB, 60.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (18-34) @ State College (23-29) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (21-25) vs Greeneville (18-27) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)

GCL: Pirates (18-21) vs Yankees East 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (26-31) vs Cubs1 10:30 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (23-34) vs Royals2 10:30 AM  (season preview)


From Indianapolis on Tuesday, Kevin Newman and Jacob Stallings complete their cycles



8/8: Luis Nova and Denny Roman promoted to Bristol. Yerry De Los Santos promoted to GCL Pirates.

8/8: John Pomeroy promoted to West Virginia. Alec Rennard and Argenis Romano promoted to Morgantown.

8/8: Rodolfo Castro activated from West Virginia disabled list.

8/8: Josh Bell activated from disabled list. Jose Osuna optioned to Indianapolis.

8/7: Pirates claim Buddy Boshers off waivers. Christopher Bostick designated for assignment.

8/7: Jackson Williams placed on Indianapolis disabled list.

8/7: Jin-De Jhang activated from Altoona DL. Bralin Jackson placed on disabled list.

8/6: Pirates acquire Adeiny Hechavarria and cash considerations From the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Seelinger.

8/6: Domingo Robles Promoted to Bradenton. James Marvel promoted to Altoona.

8/5: Dario Agrazal assigned to Altoona. Pedro Vasquez assigned to Bradenton.

8/5: Pirates recall Casey Sadler. Option Alex McRae to Indianapolis.

8/5: Zac Susi assigned to Bristol.

8/4: Pirates released Yair Babilonia and Garrett Brown.

8/4: Corey Dickerson activated from disabled list. Christopher Bostick optioned to Indianapolis.

8/4: Ben Bengtson and Deon Stafford activated from West Virginia disabled list. Raul Siri promoted to Bradenton. Jhoan Herrera assigned to Morgantown.

8/4: Austin Coley placed on disabled list.

8/3: AJ Schugel assigned to Bradenton on rehab.

8/3: Pirates option Steven Brault to Indianapolis. Recall Dovydas Neverauskas

8/2: Alfredo Reyes promoted to Indianapolis. Pedro Vasquez activated from Altoona disabled list.

8/2: Nick Kingham optioned to Indianapolis.

8/2: Leandro Pina placed on 60-day minor league DL.

8/1: Eric Wood activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

8/1: Bralin Jackson activated from the disabled list.

8/1: Pirates sign Mason Fishback. Assigned to GCL Pirates.

8/1: Pirates sign Carlos Jimenez, Andy Maldonado and Franrielis Mercedes.

7/31: Pirates trade Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and a PTBNL to Rays for Chris Archer.

7/31: Pirates trade Taylor Hearn and a PTBNL to Rangers for Keone Kela.


Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a transaction of note involving a Hall of Fame manager. On this date in 1919, the Pirates sent outfielder Casey Stengel to the Philadelphia Phillies for utility fielder Possum Whitted. Stengel refuses to report to Philadelphia after the deal, demanding a raise before he showed up. He ended up getting one the next season, but the Phillies dealt him away prior to the 1921 season. In 35 games for the Pirates in 1919, Whitted had a .389 average. He was a starter for the next two seasons, before the Pirates sold him to Brooklyn after the 1922 season.

The players born on this date include:

Matt Morris, 2007-08 pitcher. Sorry, it’s his birthday

Pat Mahomes, relief pitcher for 2003 Pirates. Had a 4.84 ERA in 22.1 innings over nine appearances in his only season in Pittsburgh.

Roman Mejias, member of the 1960 World Series champs. Mejias was signed by the Pirates out of Cuba in 1953 and he hit .216 in 71 games as a rookie for the 1955 Pirates. After spending the next season in the minors, he then played another five years off and on for the Pirates. During the 1960 season, Mejias spent most of the year in the minors, only getting three Major League appearances off the bench in May. After playing four games during the 1961 season, the Pirates lost him to Houston in the expansion draft.




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