MLB Pipeline has been posting their lists of the top ten prospects by position over the last few days. We noted last week that the Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t have anyone among the top right-handed or left-handed pitchers. That’s not a surprise for left-handed pitchers because they don’t even have one among the top 30 prospects in the system. For right-handers, Mitch Keller was left off the list. He’s been a regular on it for the previous few years.
Pipeline finished off last week with catchers and first base. While the Pirates have some first base prospects, they aren’t among the top ten in the system, so they wouldn’t be among the best in baseball. The catcher position is the biggest hole in the system right now, so obviously that was going to come up empty on a list of the ten best.
Today’s the fifth list and the Pirates have their first representative. Ji-Hwan Bae is listed as the ninth best second baseman in baseball. We still have him listed at shortstop in our Prospect Guide because that’s his original position, which he still plays often. His best position right now is second base. While he has the tools to play shortstop, he could be an above average defender at second base. If we had him listed at second base, he would easily be the best at the position for the Pirates. As a shortstop, he ranks behind Oneil Cruz.
Bae, who will be 20 years old for most of the 2020 season, hit .323/.403/.430 in 86 games for Greensboro in 2019. He then played winter ball in Australia for five weeks and batted .297/.416/.497 in 19 games with five doubles, two homers and a 6-for-6 mark in stolen bases against better competition than he saw in Low-A ball. Bae didn’t hit a home run during the 2019 regular season, so the two homers in winter ball represented some power that we didn’t previously see from him. That being said, he still had 30 extra-base hits with Greensboro while playing just 86 games.