MLB Pipeline has been posting their lists of the top ranked prospects at each position. Last week, Mitch Keller was listed among the top right-handed pitching prospects in baseball. Since that point, Pipeline has covered left-handed pitchers, catchers, first base and second base without any other Pittsburgh Pirates listed. Late Monday night, they posted the list of the top third basemen and Ke’Bryan Hayes was ranked fourth overall.
Besides being ranked high on the list, Hayes also got some recognition for his arm and his defense, receiving 60 grades for both tools, which is tied for the best on each list. That’s no surprise, as Pipeline ranked him as the best third base defender last week. He also won his second consecutive minor league Gold Glove at third base, with just one being handed out for each position in all of the minors. Pipeline also recently ranked Hayes as the best defensive player among all Pirate prospects.
Hayes received a Spring Training invite to the Major League camp this year and he will begin the 2019 season at Indianapolis, where he could end up breaking into the big leagues mid-season if his surge on offense in 2018 at Altoona continues in Triple-A. He hit .293/.375/.444 in 117 games in 2018, picking up 45 extra-base hits, 57 walks and 12 stolen bases.
As for the previous lists, if you bought our 2019 Prospect Guide, then you know it’s no surprise that no Pirates made the left-handed pitcher or catcher lists. Will Craig is a solid first base prospect, but not quite in the range of a top ten at the position.
Kevin Kramer is a bit of a surprise omission because Pipeline ranked him in the top ten last year, prior to putting up huge numbers in Indianapolis this past season and earning a trip to Pittsburgh in September. You usually don’t see a player drop off a top prospect list after moving up a level and having his best season. That might speak more to the strength of the position this year, compared to last January.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.