Baseball America released their Top 100 prospects recently, and of course it caused a lot of panic all over the place, especially after the Pirates only had four players make the list. Names like Nick Gonzales, Quinn Priester, and Mike Burrows were all left off.
Of course lists like this aren’t the say-all-be-all when it comes to prospects, but it did get me thinking about the system, and where it currently stands.
There will be more and more Top 100 lists out over the next couple of weeks, where we can really get a good look at the system from the outside looking in. Maybe the system isn’t as top heavy anymore, but there is still something to take note of when talking about the organization.
The strength that the Pirates currently have is mostly in the lower levels, with numerous players that have incredible upside, but are more on the raw side.
Termarr Johnson was the team’s first round pick in 2022, and was ranked as the second best prospect in the draft, thanks to his highly regarded hitting tools. He may have the highest ceiling of any current prospect in the system.
Johnson isn’t the only player in the lower levels around his age range that has a lot of upside.
The Pirates have several high-upside arms that they drafted out of high school, hoping that putting them through their development system will unlock the immense potential they all have.
Two of them were a part of the 2021 draft class that were signed to over slot deals and spent the majority of last year with the Bradenton Marauders.
Bubba Chandler and Anthony Solometo looked very much like the immensely talented prospects they were expected to be when they were drafted and signed to an over slot deal. Both are among the better players in the system, with Chandler getting acknowledged as someone who could potentially jump into the Top 100 early on this season.
Solometo showed a much more advanced approach on the mound based on his age, and with a velocity jump to go along with an already deceptive delivery could also climb the rankings.
Two other pitchers in the Bradenton rotation last year — Po-Yu Chen and Carlos Jimenez — were international signings that have begun to flash some upside as they start their minor league journeys.
Chen has posted some of the best spin rate data in the lower levels, and Jimenez is paired with maybe the most lethal changeup in the system. Neither pitcher is talked about much around baseball.
That’s mostly due to the high variance in what they may actually end up as pitchers.
It’s a common theme in the system, and not by accident when you take a look at how they have spent in the International market, as well as the draft.
They’ve focused on taking players with incredibly high ceilings, but a lot of cloudiness around what kind of floor they will have.
This isn’t even including the hitters (Lonnie White and Braylan Bishop among them). It’s also not including their most recent big International signing in Jun-Seok Shim, who could just as easily step in as one of this group this season.
Putting such a great investment into these kinds of players is a big risk, and they are betting the house on their own development team to push them in the right direction.
The potential payoff is huge, and even if a couple of these players start to show signs of figuring things out, there are several in the lower levels that could easily find their way into national attention.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**In the latest Pirates Winter Report, John Dreker looks at the untouchable season Duane Underwood Jr. had in Puerto Rico.
**Quinn Priester and Bubba Chandler both received mentions as top 100 candidates.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at the second base depth throughout the Pirates’ system.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
John Dreker looked at the untouchable season in Puerto Rico by Duane Underwood Jr. in his latest Pirates Winter Report.
Ethan Hullihen will have his latest Pirates Business update on Sunday at noon.