With Spring Training right around the corner, we still are a little bit away from finding out where most prospects will start their seasons. It might be a little bit easier to project for those who have been in the system for a couple of years, but for the ones a little newer to the system, it can be more difficult.
Another harder task is determining when they might have a player make the jump from the complex league to Single-A Bradenton.
When looking at the FCL roster, and who might make the leap to full season ball, there are plenty of names to track, especially in the outfield.
This might be one of the most notable names moving up from the complex to full season baseball. Polanco signed one of the biggest International bonuses in franchise history. A toolsy outfielder, he’s still a lot more projection than anything else, but still put up a 97 wRC+ this past season in the FCL.
Shalin Polanco went 2-4 with 3 RBI’s today for the DSL Pirates Black. Those two hits were a double and the homer you see here. pic.twitter.com/Us15arst7g
— Cody Potanko (@2HG013) August 1, 2021
He’ll turn 19 early in February, putting him right at the age the Pirates like to push some of their younger prospects to Bradenton.
Another player that’s far more projection than anything else (you’ll notice a theme), Bishop has the potential to be one of two over slot signings from the 2021 draft class to roam the outfield for the Marauders this season.
He flashed some of his speed last year (10 stolen bases), but hasn’t put much of that raw power to use yet on the field. He will turn 20 during the season.
An International signing in 2019, Terrero walked more than he struck out last season, but didn’t show a lot of power. He was still one of the best hitters on the Pirates’ FCL team, with a .330/.446/.443 slash, nine stolen bases and 22 runs. He was a very extreme ground ball hitter, with a 61.7 GB%.
Valdez was one of the better hitters on the FCL team last year, posting a 117 wRC+ in 124 plate appearances. He hit three home runs and drove in 20 RBI while posting a .162 ISO in 2022. He’ll be 19-years-old for the entirety of the 2023 season.
PITT IF prospect Yordany De Los Santos throws it down to Esmerlyn Valdez to complete the rep at camp today. Valdez approves the smoothness #defense #prospects pic.twitter.com/pXwnFqo8xx
— Florida Prospect Report (@FLProspectPod) January 26, 2023
He’s also played some first base, which could free up more playing time for himself and the others here.
Lonnie White Jr.
The other over slot signing from the 2021 draft, White was another multi-sport athlete that was on his way to college to also play football (along with Bubba Chandler). In the brief time we’ve seen him, White has shown a lot of power, but also some swing and miss issues.
It’s also been 40 total plate appearances so far in his career. He has great raw power and could be a plus defender in center field with his speed and arm. At this point it’s about getting and staying on the field.
Some of the names that could potentially be heading to Bradenton this year may not be household names to start, but there they all have the upside to quickly become recognized if they are able to stay on the field and get some playing time.
The sheer amount of names vying for at-bats should also drive some healthy competition, which can only help everyone improve.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**In the latest Pirates Winter Report, John Dreker has an outstanding breakdown of minor league catcher Dylan Shockley, who found lost development time in Australia this winter.
**The Pirates signed RHP Juan Minaya to a minor league deal.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony wrote about the rollercoaster season for Brenden Dixon.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
Ethan Hullihen is working on a new feature to create a Glossary of transaction details on the site. His first installment is a look at how Optional and Outright Assignments work.
Pirates Business: How Do Optional and Outright Assignments Work?
Wilbur Miller looked at the Pirates’ 2019 draft, which is led by Quinn Priester, but has a lot of other interesting prospects still around.
WTM: The Pirates’ Quirky 2019 Draft
Bubba Chandler was a highlight of the 2021 draft, and Anthony Murphy looked at the progress and potential he showed during his debut season.
Bubba Chandler Showed Progress and Potential In His Debut Season
Living in Florida, it will be exiting to see these youngsters play when they come to Jupiter to play the Cardinals and Hammerheads. When reading the brief descriptions of these outfielders, a subtlety was noticed, Esmerlyn Valdez is playing some first base. Hopefully, this is a change of philosophy. Hallelujah! I’ve always been miffed that the Pirates wait until a prospect gets to the ‘upper minors’ before introducing them to 1B. Josh Bell is a prime example who had difficulty with the position. Would he have better adapted had he played some 1B earlier in his carrier, or would the Pirates have realized it wasn’t a ‘good fit,’ and looked elsewhere. Either of those potential outcomes would have been better than what transpired.
From knowledge gleaned from reading these pages, I know that high draft picks are rarely first basemen, so it stands to reason, a team should identify players that have a ‘knack for’ the position earlier in their careers. If a team occasionally used more of their better ‘prospects’ at first base in the lower minors, potentially adept first basemen could be identified, and 1B might not be such a problem in the future.
Sh*t, I would love to see a Bradenton OF of Lonnie White Jr, Shalin Polonco and Braylon Bishop!!
I just can’t see all three starting out there. I hope Lonnie White Jr does though; being 20 years old. Although Shalin also turns 20 this month and Braylon 20 in April. 20-21 years old should be the time to start a highly thought of prospect in full season ball.
I just think Sergio Campana repeats, Jasiah Dixon probably gets some PT in Bradenton to start the season. Tanner Tredaway probably does too. Although I think Nolasco moves up to Greensboro so that does leave the DH spot open.
And then you have Jauri Custodio(21), who moved up to Bradenton briefly for 4 games and 13 AB last season. Plus Enmanuel Terrero(20) too. Just like you said in the article, a lot of bodies for 4-5 OF roster spots.
Solomon Maguire and Deion Walker probably repeat FCL. And like you said, Esmerlyn Valdez at 1B/DH in Bradenton(with Josiah Sightler). Juan Jerez in Greensboro at 1B and Jacob Gonzalez(and Will Matthiessen) in Altoona at 1B.
There’s definitely a lot of names out there but I can’t see a scenario where they hold any of them back for fringe guys. If they feel they are ready for Bradenton, they’ll get time there. They aren’t going to block anyone they feel have upside
Right, if one of them is mashing and has the numbers to justify the promotion then of course. They will jump the “fringe” guys or older college drafted players(just like Jacob Gonzalez).
But none of Lonnie White Jr., Shalin Polonco, or Braylon Bishop have shown or have the numbers to justify a promotion over the “fringe” guys. Just yet!!
FWIW it does appear likely that the Pirates will be rated as the top farm system by Fangraphs when they get around to doing those rankings (April, May, June?)
Not sure if Fangraphs is still considered a good source for that type of thing
Chill the Champagne:)
I doubt they’ll be the best. Top five? But I don’t think they’re ahead of Baltimore or Arizona for sure.
Check the comment from Matt in the article below
AZ and Balt will drop off big players in the first week or two of the season
Pitt might be ahead of both prior to the season start
I saw the comment. That assumes also that no one on Pgh’s list gets downgraded. I’d guess Fraizer and some other candidates are likely to get dinged.
“ That assumes also that no one on Pgh’s list gets downgraded.”
I’m sure several players will be downgraded
And maybe a few upgraded
Still might be the top system when it’s released
Other than Endy, who was already upgraded, there really isn’t anyone who stood out for an upgrade. Nick and Hank seem like candidates to go down at the moment. The system as a whole didn’t take many significant steps forward.
Here’s the other thing: Arizona and Baltimore will certainly have more “star” level prospects, who are more likely to be stars in the big leagues. Pgh’s strength of their system is their depth. I think I’d rather have the stars.
Why does it appear that the Pirates will be rated as the top farm system by Fangraphs?
Longenhagen is arguably the best in the business when it comes to scouting prospects.
The ranking will be out before Grapefruit games and the Pirates won’t be the top farm.
Here is the prior version?
It’s my understanding that the update won’t happen until all 30 teams have been reviewed
Is that in Feb? March?
not to mention fringe prospects like deion walker, solomon maguire and jauri custodio. it’ll be interesting to see who’s left behind
From this time last year
“Esmerlyn Valdez, OF, Pirates
One of the power standouts from the Dominican Summer League last year, Valdez is already posting plus exit velocity data based on major league standards. His 90th percentile exit velocity was 106 mph, with an average exit velocity of 91.5 mph. There’s certainly some swing-and-miss present in Valdez’s profile, but his contact rates are fringe-average. If his approach improves incrementally in the coming years, he has the power to develop into an impact bat.”
I’d love to see White, Polanco and Bishop all in one game. That’d be fun to watch.
I’d love just to see White in one game. It’s been a rare sight.
I think if he misses time due to injury this year, it’s pretty much a given he won’t do much. The multi-sport preps need reps, and the more time he misses, he worse off he’ll look.
He’s taken the Malone path to success…..
Maybe he shudda gone to PSU? 😜😜😜