Keith Law posted his list of the top 20 prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday morning. Subscribers to ESPN Insider can see the full list in his article of the top prospects for each team in the NL Central.
We already knew the top five for Law, as his list of the top 100 prospects had (in order) Ke’Bryan Hayes, Mitch Keller, Travis Swaggerty and Oneil Cruz, while Kevin Newman was on his just missed list. The rest of his top ten has Calvin Mitchell, Cole Tucker, Steven Jennings, Kevin Kramer and Lolo Sanchez.
It’s technically a top ten list, but Law always expands to include other players for each team. From 11-20, he has Jason Martin, Bryan Reynolds, Will Craig, Travis MacGregor, Luis Escobar, Pablo Reyes, Conner Uselton, Mason Martin, Braxton Ashcraft and Ji-Hwan Bae.
The big surprise here would be Uselton still ranked that high after his poor showing in Bristol in 2018. Mason Martin and Steven Jennings each saw their stock drop, but not as much as Uselton. Law gives him the benefit of the doubt for his hamstring injury in 2017 possibly still affecting him, but Uselton was in the Dominican that off-season making up for lost time during the Fall Instructional League there, where he was given a clean bill of health.
Uselton had zero homers or stolen bases for Bristol in 43 games, while showing poor defense at the corner spot. He just missed qualifying for league leaders, but his .530 OPS trailed all 53 players with enough plate appearances to qualify. The reason he missed qualifying is because of his own hustle issues got him a seat on the bench a few times. The only highlight seemed to be an above average arm. It’s important to remember that he was old for his draft class. For comparison, Mason Martin was also a HS pick in 2017 and he’s over a year young than Uselton.
Uselton was a solid pick at 72nd overall in 2017, so you should have some leeway in the rankings for him to regain a recent higher prospect status, but he was a one tool corner outfielder last year. Unless he switches to the mound at some point, you can’t get to the majors as a position player on arm strength alone.
For comparison sake, you can check out other top prospect lists for the Pirates.
Pirates Prospects Top 50 (recommended)
MLB Pipeline’s top 30 will be out in about ten days
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.