Baseball America released their 2023 updated list of the top 100 prospects in baseball on Wednesday morning. A total of four Pittsburgh Pirates made the list, though it might not be the exact four you would expect.
Endy Rodriguez is the highest rated Pirates player on the list, ranking 23rd overall. He wasn’t even a top 100 prospect for most sources over a majority of last season. Greensboro is a hitter-friendly park, so there are some reasons not to fully trust numbers from there, especially power numbers. However, Rodriguez improved his hitting as he moved up, with outstanding results at Double-A Altoona, as well as a nice small sample size of major success in Triple-A Indianapolis.
Rodriguez was added to the Pirates 40-man roster over the off-season, and should make his big league debut some time during the middle of the season. His limited upper level time (37 games above High-A) might be all that is holding him back, though being in Indianapolis will give him a chance to catch full-time. He might still play some other spots just to get his bat in the lineup on off-days.
Termarr Johnson ranks second on their list among Pirates players, slotting in at the 49th spot. He was the first round pick of the Pirates last year, selected fourth overall. His overall numbers in his brief playing time after signing were mediocre, but he looked good in his time with Low-A Bradenton. He’s also going to still be 18 years old when the 2023 season opens. His bat has a chance to be elite, with multiple mentions in scouting reports that gave him comps to Wade Boggs, one of the greatest pure hitters in my lifetime.
Henry Davis ranks in at 73rd, which is a drop in his rankings, but his inability to stay healthy hasn’t helped his prospect case. He also played hurt last year and saw his stats suffer during that time. He finished strong by putting up an .875 OPS in the Arizona Fall League, along with a strong strikeout rate. A healthy season would push him back up the charts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start in Altoona until Rodriguez moves up to Pittsburgh.
The fourth player on the list is Luis Ortiz ranked right behind Davis in the 74th spot. BA left off Quinn Priester, Mike Burrows and Liover Peguero from their list, all players with legitimate mid/late top 100 cases.
Ortiz is a very late bloomer, putting up inconsistent results for much of 2022, before putting things together in early August at Altoona. That resulted in him pitching briefly in Indianapolis (one outstanding start, one poor start), and then in Pittsburgh, where he looked great in three starts, until an implosion in his last start added six earned runs in 0.2 innings to his totals. He had a 5.21 ERA as a full-time starter in Double-A through August 8th, so the fact that he even made it to the majors last year is an impressive feat, and speaks well of his turn around.
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.