First Pitch: Top 50 Prospects in Spring Training 2.0

The Pittsburgh Pirates released their Spring Training and alternate site rosters on Sunday. I briefly mentioned some of the prospects on the alternate site roster, but I figured I would name all of the top 50 prospects here. I put them in order from our 2020 Prospect Guide, which will get an update once all of the 2020 draft picks sign, possibly sooner if the season is about to start and some players are still unsigned.

Here are the players with their system rank in parenthesis:

Mitch Keller, Spring Training roster (1). He’s the top prospect now, but he’s only two innings short of losing that prospect status.

Ke’Bryan Hayes, ST roster (2). For now he’s on the Spring Training roster, but I can’t see the Pirates giving up a year of service time during a 60-game season. During a short season, we are talking about 5-6 games, depending on the schedule with off days possible early on.

Oneil Cruz, alternate site roster (3). Cruz was going to begin the year at Altoona and maybe if everything went well, he would be up in September. During a short season, we probably won’t see him, but who knows how things will play out.

Cody Bolton, AS roster (5). Change Cruz to Bolton above and everything else is the same.

Ji-Hwan Bae, AS roster (9). Bae was in Low-A last year, so he’s highly unlikely to make the majors this year. He won a batting title and then played well in winter ball against tougher competition, but it’s still a huge jump.

Travis Swaggerty, AS roster (12). With no prior Altoona experience, it’s unlikely that Swaggerty would be ready this year, even if everything clicks.

JT Brubaker, ST roster (13). With a 30-man roster, Brubaker could have a legit chance of making the big league club. I wouldn’t have said that with a 26-man roster back in March.

Will Craig, ST roster (14). Craig has a chance of making the roster as well now that it’s up to 30 spots and they have a DH spot.

Nick Mears, AS roster (15). Basically the same situation as Bolton and Cruz, except it’s easier for a reliever to move up.

Jared Oliva, AS roster (16). Oliva will probably get big league time at some point, but he’s beginning the year with the Altoona squad.

Mason Martin, AS roster (17). Same situation as Swaggerty, except not as polished of a player. Part of the thinking to remember is that teams won’t want to throw guys like Bae, Martin or Swaggerty on the 40-man roster a year or two early just for a few games.

Nick Burdi, ST roster (22). He will be on the big league roster and maybe we can finally get him out of the prospect guide. Already has two years of big league service time, but only ten innings pitched. He has 13 appearances, so 18 more would give him the boot from the guide.

James Marvel, AS roster (23). Marvel is a depth option now, just like he was before. Won’t be there on Opening Day, but we could definitely see him at some point.

Max Kranick, AS roster (25). Another guy with no Altoona experience. His difference is that he will be Rule 5 eligible after the season, so if everything falls into place, it wouldn’t hurt to get him big league time.

Jason Martin, AS roster (27). A little surprised that he isn’t on the big league roster, but he wasn’t going to make the team, so it’s not a big deal. We could/should see him in Pittsburgh at some point.

Rodolfo Castro, AS roster (31). He has some real tools, but the game is a little too raw to predict that he has a shot at the majors. He just turned 21 and only has a half season in High-A.

Aaron Shortridge, AS roster (32). Same situation as others with no Altoona experience (except Kranick).

Blake Cederlind, ST roster (37). With 30-man roster, maybe he sneaks on. If not, we could see him during the year. Really needed more Triple-A experience to work on control and secondary pitches, but that doesn’t exist this year.

Braeden Ogle, AS roster (38). He’s similar to Kranick in that he will be Rule 5 eligible, but Ogle is a reliever, so that could help him get some brief big league time if they plan on adding him to the 40-man this winter.

Geoff Hartlieb, ST roster (42). Needs two appearances to get the boot from the prospect guide. Should have no problem getting those with the expanded rosters.

Sam Howard, AS roster (50). With the Pirates releasing two top 50 prospects earlier this month, Howard gets the final spot in the top 50. He has thrown 24 big league games over the last two years, so he’s an option at some point.

**We will have at least four articles today, including the one you’re currently reading. If any news comes up, we will have more. The other scheduled articles for today are as follows:

This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History – Birthdays and two major trades. Pirates acquire Larry McWilliams and Joel Hanrahan

Game Rewind – I strayed a bit from all of the other Game Rewind articles here, but I did it for a good reason. Here’s the last Game Rewind article, which has links to the first 15 articles.

1979 Season Recap – The Pirates take on the Expos in an important mid-season game with future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven on the mound.

Hope everyone has a terrific Tuesday!




Here’s an old video of the Nashau Pirates talking about the minors and majors

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.

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