New Top 10 Prospects List for the Pirates from Baseball America

Baseball America released their top ten list of Pittsburgh Pirates prospects on Thursday morning. The article also includes the best tools in the system and the projected 2026 lineup.

Since it is a subscription site, I’ll quickly go over the list and leave the information about their choices in the article. They have Endy Rodriguez as the top prospect in the system, followed by Termarr Johnson and Henry Davis in the 2/3 spots. BA then went high on Luis Ortiz, putting him fourth in the system ahead of multiple Pirates players from their last top 100 list. The top five is rounded out by Quinn Priester.

The 6-10 (in order) has Bubba Chandler, Liover Peguero, Nick Gonzales, Mike Burrows and Thomas Harrington, the 2022 draft 36th overall pick, who has yet to debut.

Our own prospect lists will be released soon, so I won’t give spoilers for those either. I will say that the top three prospects will probably be the same players but in different orders depending on who you ask. Both Johnson and Davis will end up first on some lists I’m sure. Ortiz seems very high for someone who has the risk to end up as a power reliever still, while Burrows seems a bit low in comparison. I know a trusted source who has him as the top pitching prospect in the system.

Don’t be surprised to see as many as nine of these players show up on the various top 100 prospects lists once all of those are revealed. I have doubts that all nine would make the same list, but the combined lists from major sources could have a total of nine show up at least once.

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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justin

Ortiz seems a little high, same with Bubba and Harrington. Burrows too low & add Solometo in there as well.

NMR

I’m gonna sound like a dick here but if Solomento were the same exact dude he is now but instead signed for $25k like Ortiz we probably wouldn’t even know his name, let alone rank him top 10.

skliesen

Had me sold at “I know I’m going to sound like a dick here.” 😎

In all seriousness, I was under impression AS was further along the development trail than Bubba the Pitcher, and as such would be ranked higher now. With the idea, Bubba’s ceiling is higher and hopefully would pass AS while in AA or AAA.

James_Robert5

Do you think Solometo has regressed? When he was a UNC recruit he was known for inconsistent velocity

NMR

I don’t assume he’s regressed, just the difference between scouting and game velo.

Could easily be wrong, but my amateur prospecting has conditioned me to expect that when a HS prospect is drafted with an 88-92mph fastball, the higher band is likely short-outing or showcase velo and the lower end will be what you get early on in full-season pro starts.

TNBucs

Given what Solometo did with Bradenton, we’d know about him regardless of his background. His numbers compare favorably with Jimenez’s, and Jimenez has received a lot of attention on here despite being an under-the-radar signing.

Wilbur Miller

Lot of truth to this.

k1rainey

that’s crazy. his size, stuff and performance speak for itself.

NMR

For having the 51st best ERA in A ball, barely striking out a batter per inning, and runnign a fastball in the hgh-80s?

Seems you might be proving my point.

k1rainey

oof is that really what his fastball is? I thought it was more 94 from a 6’5 lefty. …from the depth pages here it says 89-93 and runs up to mid 90s. 51st best? what is that with no limit on innings? So I think I’ll stick to my point, but add age. 19yo 6’5 lefty starting pitcher straight to A ball with 47ip 9+ k/9 and 2.64era 1.05 whip. I think everyone here would know who that guy was and would rank him very high.

NMR

Always can count on you, buddy!

Wilbur Miller

Don’t know where high-80s comes from. I saw him several times and I doubt I saw a FB that low.

NMR

Only restating what Anthony wrote about late in the year. Check out the statcast data James posted.

As the game goes along, many of his “sinkers” and “changeups” become increasingly indistinguishable. Same velo, spin, and movement.

He’s got a no-doubt changeup in the 83-85mph range with more than 30″ of drop and 1400-1500rpm, and he’s got a “changeup” in the 88-90mph range with less than 30″ of drop and 2200ish rpm.

The latter are likely fastballs that have been misclassified.

NMR

Figure of speech, you get what I mean.

His change and fastball are nearly indistinguishable after an inning or two, you won’t see many 9’s on the gun.

He’s absolutely an upside play, no doubt, but my point is that we’ve gone overboard on how we value such prospects.

justin

Well, there’s a reason some players are picked in the 1st round vs the 10th and why some Intl players sign for 25k vs over a million.

I agree that ‘Pedigree’ often leads to prospects being overrated long after their performance indicates otherwise, but Solometo actually did very well this year with a mid 2 ERA to go along with that pedigree.

Performance matters too, which is why I think Bubba and Harrington shouldn’t be as high as they are.

SouthernBuc

While you are spot on regarding high draft picks being too high on prospect lists (Sammy Siani we hardly knew ya), too fulfill my role as a part time Smart-A**, I will save this post for when we are celebrating Solometo’s third Cy Young (final one with the Yankees – $$$) and is called MadBum Jr.

NMR

Put it on the fridge!

SouthernBuc

Putting it next to my post predicting Tony Sanchez would make some all-star teams.

justin

For me:

  1. Endy
  2. Termarr
  3. Davis
  4. Priester
  5. Burrows
  6. Gonzales
  7. Peguero
  8. Chandler
  9. Solometo
  10. Ortiz
bradlej31

someone from BA had Burrows with best stuff at futures game. Maybe Matt Eddy.

NMR

This isn’t exactly meant to be a gotcha, but one of two things have to be true:

Luis Ortiz is the developmental success of the year across all of minor league baseball and the Pirates should be lauded for their work…

…or…

Luis Ortiz was massively undervalued to begin with.

The surprise about his ascent seems better placed on how the hell he started out ranked so low. Is he a flawed prospect? Absolutely…just no more so than any of the others who were elevated over him in the system.

The one that really stands out to me is Jared Jones, who for some reason has been tabbed with the best stuff in the system with little more than a fastball and slider that don’t sniff what you all saw coming out of Ortiz’s hand in September.

We’ve placed an absolutely enormous present value on prospect age and it’s leading to some really bad misses, like Mr. Ortiz.

Last edited 1 month ago by NMR
James_Robert5

Lots of talk about the bonus Ortiz received and none for the ‘top’ prospect

If Endy and Ortiz go out for a steak dinner, it should be Ortiz picking up the check as his bonus was 150% larger than Endy’s

The big difference is that Ortiz wasn’t traded and then re-ranked as a prospect

He’s just stuck with his $25k bonus tag

Ortiz was arguably better in both 2021 and 2022

Wilbur Miller

His ascent has a lot to do with his FB going from 93-94 to triple digits. I saw him at Bristol in 2019 and his stuff was good, but now it’s borderline elite. He’s even added 3-4 clicks over last year at Bradenton. He was never a big command guy, so the improved stuff’s been everything.
As you noted, it’s also true that he was a non-hype signing. In fact, he was 19.
It’s worth adding that the former staff saw enough to send Ortiz straight to advanced rookie ball and not dick around in the DSL or GCL. Not sure the current guys would have done that. But THEY saw enough to skip him over GBO. THAT should have opened some eyes.
I’d say the evidence shows the folks on the front lines knew what they had, so credit to them.

Last edited 1 month ago by Wilbur Miller
NMR

This is great context.

emjayinTN

Let me throw out a 3rd possibility. The Pirates were trying to “hide” Ortiz rather than put him on the 40 at year end to avoid the Rule 5. As the year progressed they realized that dog would not hunt – the results were too good.

I think they did something similar with Nunez. When they got him in the trade, I doubt they ever thought he would do even better at AA Altoona in the tough Eastern League than he was already doing for St Louis in the AA Texas League as a 21 year old. I would hate to lose a kid that young and with the numbers he posted.

No problem with the last 4 guys added to the 40 before the Rule 5 deadline, but keeping guys like Park, Vilade, and holding onto 2 or 3 of the “pedestrian” pitchers instead of putting Nunez, Gorski, and Thomas on the 40 is just stupid.

Danatural08

great message & point made, i hadn’t thought about this with Ortiz

leefieux

If you want an interesting (or depressing) exercise, go back and check out the success rates of Top 10 lists for ALL MLB teams, not just the Bucs.

I did, in 2018 or so, if I remember correctly, 4 years (’08 thru ’11). More than half had little impact and the overall average was around 6.5. Btw, this included ANY rookie with at least one good year! It also included relievers. It opened my eyes to these Top 10 lists. Take a look at S Fran’s 2011 (picked at random). Luckily Crawford was nor 11, lol. That gave them 3 out of 11. The 11-20 prospects’ success rate is MUCH lower across MLB. Ironically, since he was mentioned above, Heath Hembree was nu,bee 17.
https://www.minorleagueball.com/2010/11/14/1814238/san-francisco-giants-top-20-prospects-for-2011

I was reading MLB.COM’s writeups of some winter deals. Yoan Moncado has accumulated 13.4 WAR over essentially 5 full seasons. He was MLB’s #1 prospect at the time of the deal!!

So while I enjoy dreaming on our guys I know: Prospects will break your heart!!

Last edited 1 month ago by leefieux
James_Robert5

Yoan Moncada is averaging 3.4 WAR per 162 games according to baseball reference

For context, Dale Murphy, Fred McGriff, and Don Mattingly all have some chance to get elected to the HOF this weekend

Those three averaged between 3.5 and 3.8 WAR / 162 games

James_Robert5

Of course the 100-loss Pirates have 3 players averaging higher WAR / 162 than Mattingly, Murphy, and McGriff

How can that be?

Actually there are really 4 Pirates players above the 3.8 WAR / 162 level

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I like going back through the Atlanta Braves lists when they were FLOODED with pitchers (like Bryse Wilson). Needless to say, not many worked out

leefieux

I mentioned yesterday that I hope that all of our Top 10 prospects fulfill their potential. I also mentioned that I wanted a Lamborghini for Christmas, too. I guess Mr Leuhr22 thinks that they’re all gonna work out since he downvoted it? Or as someone said, he likes Ferraris? Hard to tell which, 😵‍💫😵‍💫😵‍💫

leefieux

There is the ‘cowardly Leuhren22’ hiding behind another dislike. What an rearend.

SouthernBuc

This dynamic of ‘how many make it’ also plays into the somewhat unnecessary angst over the Rule 5 draft but also the thought that 1st round draft picks are likely to contribute. 1st rounders do better than 2nd, but most still don’t make it. While Craig and Tucker go down as bad draft picks and that is on the front office, they are more the norm than the exception.

leefieux

The lower you go in that first round decreases the odds. On average, 2 out of 5 Top V 5 picks, bust. By the time you’re on the bottom 25%, 80-85 percent bust. That’s why I chuckle at the “we can’t draft’ with the failures of low first rounders Craig and Tucker. We only have, at best, 20% chance of them succeeding!! Another low first rounder, Newman, is considered a success in figuring those odds. So, we got 1 out of 3! We’re actually doing better than average!!

SouthernBuc

I would give 2 thumbs up if possible. I glanced around one time looking at the Cardinals, Braves, (maybe one more) thinking I would find this great success rate. Don’t get me wrong they did hit on some, but had just as many ‘oops’. It can be painful to look 2 spots after some picks and say ‘what if’, but that is just too easy.

SouthernBuc

Too further validate my Pirate nerdiness… I remember looking up Paul Maholm. As boring as a pick as he sounds, he was one of the best picks of his first round.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Right? That’s like looking up Jose Tabata, and realizing he probably was as appreciated as he should’ve been.

NMR

Hey that’s my bit! 😉

Danatural08

IMO Bubba & Liover haven’t outperformed Nick G to be ranked above him, but get that alot of rankings lean towards future projections. Also not a fan of putting Harrington in the top 10 just bc he hasn’t pitched yet & think there are others more deserving. Otherwise, good list.

After seeing the ZIPs projections, maybe Andres Alvarez deserves more prospect hype.

Hard to ignore the year Endy had, very deserving of the top spot, & glad they didn’t just stick Termar there

bradlej31

Gonzalez will be an All star. He’ll K more than you’d expect for a MIF but he’ll get 25-30 HRs. He’ll probably hit the most oppo HRs as a RHH at PNC in recent memory.

NMR

I made a similar point going into last season – he’s actually power over hit just like Keston Hiura has turned out to be – but I think he’s gotta figure out how to pull it in the air more in order for it to play. Seems like oppo has been mostly warning track power everywhere he’s played outside of Greensboro.

Danatural08

While I don’t think many on this site will agree with your take, & some of the prospect rankings have seemingly soured on him too, I’m in the same boat with you that I think Nick’s a future All Star & am a big fan of his bat.

leefieux

I’m a disagreer. He still has lots of issues with non-fastballs.

john_fluharty

Why would Harrington be so high?

bradlej31

BA loves draft guys they cover

Cobra

Should be Bae over Harrington i think

SouthernBuc

i thought Solometo would make top 10 for how well he performed in his first year.

NMR

Big quality of competition penalty. Delivery might’ve carried him much further against teenagers than it projects to against big leaguers.

Still has pretty marginal stuff when it comes down to it.

SouthernBuc

I haven’t heard the marginal stuff feedback but that is an observation not me knowing any better. I do get your point on his delivery. Somethings can lead to success at lower levels but would not work at higher levels. I guess that is similar to the very polished young pitcher (crafty lefty!) who can get people out at the lower levels but just don’t have the ‘stuff’ to get the advanced hitters out.

NMR

You get the idea, crafty lefty is exactly how he played…which is itself a compliment for his age!

I just don’t know that his present stuff really sniffs big league average. Still an upside/development guy.

Wilbur Miller

Wow, Endy and Ortiz!

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

So I guess Fangraphs weren’t the only crazy ones.

PirateRican21

I like the list, if anything I would move Davis down the list just ahead of Chandler.

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