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Top Pirates Prospects from The Athletic and ESPN


The Athletic and ESPN both released prospect rankings on Wednesday morning. Kiley McDaniel rated the top prospects from all 15 National League teams, while Keith Law rated the top 20 prospects for each NL Central team, posting each team individually.

Starting with Law, where we already knew his top five Pirates prospects in order due to his top 100 prospects list from last week. In order, he had Termarr Johnson, Henry Davis, Endy Rodriguez, Quinn Priester and Bubba Chandler.

The rest of his top ten consisted of Anthony Solometo, Mike Burrows, Liover Peguero, Nick Gonzales and Malcom Nunez. Luis Ortiz ranks 11th and Ji-hwan Bae is 12th.

I won’t go into full details, as it is a subscription site, but I will note that he expands beyond 20 players with some players that intrigue him outside of the top 20. He also had Axiel Plaz in the top 20, which is interesting, but appears to be based on DSL stats adding intrigue.

I feel I need to stress that we did a deep dive around this time last year into the correlation of strong stats in the DSL and future success (aka just reaching the majors) and the two had nothing to do with each other, both for pitchers and hitters. A guy who slugged 1.000 in the DSL, had the same chances of making it as a random guy who had a mediocre or below average OPS.

As someone who has followed the league closely for as long as boxscores from the league were available, it was a disappointing discovery, but good to know as well. Do not scout DSL boxscores.

Scouting reports are much more important, which is still good for the case of Plaz, as he was considered an advanced defensive player, with a chance to become a solid hitter with some power. He wasn’t a huge bonus guy, but he was among the top bonuses in his signing class, so he is a prospect to watch from that league. I talked to one of the coaches about him near the end of the season and I got the sense that he still had a lot to work on to become a legit top prospect.

ESPN Rankings

As with the rankings for The Athletic, the rankings for ESPN aren’t a complete surprise. We already knew that Termarr Johnson, Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis were 1-2-3 in the system. We also knew that Quinn Priester, Ji-hwan Bae and Liover Peguero were the 4-6 group, though the order was unknown.

Here’s the rest of the top ten in order: Priester, Peguero, Bae, Chandler, Ortiz, Burrows and Travis Swaggerty.

This is also a subscription article, so I won’t go into full details, but I do have some notes. The list here is based on Future Value, so 17 players are in order at the top, all at least 40+ FV. For reference, an elite prospect like Termarr Johnson is a 55 FV on his list.

Nick Gonzales did not make the top 17 here. He’s among the next tier of players, putting him somewhere in the 18-30 range. I don’t know if that group goes in order, but it might because it’s not alphabetical or by position, so he could rank 21st. That’s an assumption based on not seeing a pattern from the list.

The 40 FV group also includes Jun-Seok Shim, the recent signing from South Korea. He’s joined in that group by Po-Yu Chen and Tsung-Che Cheng, which looks good for the Pirates focus on Asia. You can throw Bae in that group as well.

Thomas Harrington is ranked as a potential breakout prospect among the top 13 prospects on the list (all 45 FV or better players).

Carlos Jimenez didn’t get a single mention on either list, which is shocking to me. I saw enough of him, as did everyone else on the site, to know he’s a legit high upside prospect. Maybe he turns into a reliever, but most of the pitchers in the system also have that risk. What they don’t have is his elite changeup, to go along with a potential plus breaking ball and a mid-90s fastball. The thing that keeps him from being a top ten prospect in the system now is command (control at times), which is why he has that reliever risk, but he will still play a majority of the 2023 season at 20 years old.

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John Dreker
John Dreker
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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