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2024 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 50 Tiered Rankings Version 3.0

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The month of July could bring a lot of changes to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league system.

This is the time of year when the best performing players start to get tested with a promotion to a higher level. The MLB draft will see the Pirates picking ninth overall on July 14th, adding new talent to their system. The trade deadline could either add or subtract to the system depth, depending on which direction the Pirates take.

My top 50 prospect rankings this year have been focused on tiered rankings, aimed to show the depth of the Pirates’ system. I’ve also been incorporating a Current Value ranking, aimed at showing where a player is today, and their likely path to the big leagues. These rankings will likely change over the next month, but version 3.0 of the 2024 rankings shows where the system sits at mid-season.

The Current Value System

Most prospect rankings are based on a Future Value, which is the highest likely rating a player can reach in his professional career. This alone can be misleading, as some players might not reach their Future Value until after a few seasons in the majors.

I’ve been using a Current Value system to better project the future development of prospects, basing the rankings off the Future Value 20-80 scale. The Current Value system starts at 10, for athletes without a lot of experience in pro ball, all the way up to a 60-grade for the best players in the Majors.

The Current Value scale is broke down as follows:

  • 10 – Pure athletes with very little baseball experience, starting their careers in rookie ball.
  • 15 – Players who can perform well at the rookie levels, with regular playing time.
  • 20 – The talent needed to play regularly in A-ball, at either level. High-A is usually a stronger indicator of this value.
  • 25 – Double-A talent.
  • 30 – The bottom half of Triple-A talent.
  • 35 – The top half of Triple-A talent, and where the “Quad-A” label begins.
  • 40 – The replacement level players at the MLB level.
  • 45 – MLB bench/bullpen options who can occasionally start, and provide long-term positive or neutral value in the majors.
  • 50 – Average MLB starters, or elite relievers.
  • 55 – Above-average MLB starters.
  • 60 – Plus MLB performers. Players can be graded higher than this, but this is the threshold when players start becoming the best in the game.

Once a player has a Current Value assigned, I project his improvements until he reaches his Future Value projection. This mapped out career path varies by player, but gives a good idea of where a player is today, when he might reach the majors, and when he might reach that mythical Future Value.

The rankings below separate the system into talent tiers, with my numerical rankings listed within the tiers, along with Current and Future Values, and MLB/FV ETAs.

TIER ONE: NEXT IN LINE?

The Pirates have seen a downgrade to the top tier in their system. That’s to be expected when you graduate two of the best pitching prospects in the game in Paul Skenes and Jared Jones. I don’t see a lot of separation between the top three or four remaining prospects in the system, but I’m putting the number one guy in his own tier for a reason.

BUBBA CHANDLER, RHP

CV: 30 | FV: 60 | MLB ETA: 2025 | FV ETA: 2027+ | Trend: UP

Chandler has a 4.17 ERA in 54 innings at the Double-A level this year, but has stepped up his game in his last six starts. He’s got an upper 90s fastball that works well at the top of the zone, a swing and miss slider that works off the fastball low in the zone, and a developing changeup. Chandler represents the best option to pitch in the top half of an MLB rotation in the future, with Skenes being the only pitcher who has more upside in the Pirates’ organization. I like the development of Chandler over the last year, and give him a better chance than anyone in the system of at least above-average performance in the majors.

TIER TWO: ABOVE-AVERAGE POTENTIAL

The Pirates have three prospects who stand out for their chance to be above-average in the majors one day, in addition to Chandler above. They’ll add one more player to the top two tiers with the ninth pick in the upcoming MLB draft.

TERMARR JOHNSON, 2B

CV: 25 | FV: 60 | MLB ETA: 2026 | FV ETA: 2027+ | Trend: UP

Johnson was drafted fourth overall in 2022, due to being the best pure prep hitter in the draft. He’s shown more of a power approach in pro ball, with a .237 average over the last two years. The Pirates haven’t shown an ability to develop hitters, which is why Johnson gets bumped down in my rankings. He’s done well over the last six weeks, getting a boost above the pitchers in this tier. Note his CV grade puts him as a Double-A talent. He’s playing in High-A, but I believe Johnson is more talented than this level, even with the lower results.

BRAXTON ASHCRAFT, RHP

CV: 35 | FV: 55 | MLB ETA: 2024 | FV ETA: 2026+ | Trend: UP

Ashcraft is currently injured, but since the last update, he’s gone to Triple-A and pitched well. With a fastball that can reach upper-90s, and swing and miss secondary offerings, I think he could pitch in the majors as a reliever this year. His upside is a starter, but innings are an issue right now. He could finish this season with around a career high of 100 innings, which would give him a good base to be a full-season starter in 2025, with a chance to make the majors in that role.

THOMAS HARRINGTON, RHP

CV: 30 | FV: 55 | MLB ETA: 2025 | FV ETA: 2027+ | Trend: FLAT

Harrington has some of the best control in the Pirates’ system, and is one of the most cognizant pitchers they have. I’ve heard a few stories of how he has helped other pitchers improve their pitches, including helping Jared Jones with his fastball. That gives Harrington added value, but he also can pitch. He lacks the upper-90s stuff of the previous guys on this list, but he gets results with a mix of average or better offerings, and plus control and command. He’s another guy who I believe is more talented than his current level.

TIER THREE: FUTURE STARTERS

I have trouble labeling the tiers to include every player in the group. I wouldn’t say that any player is guaranteed as a starter in the majors, but the players in this tier all have better chances than most in the system to emerge as a future starter in the big leagues.

HUNTER BARCO, LHP

CV: 25 | FV: 50 | MLB ETA: 2026 | FV ETA: 2027+ | Trend: UP

Add Barco to the list of players who is more talented than his current level. The Pirates drafted him in the second round in 2022, as he was recovering from Tommy John. He’s in his first full season this year, getting work in High-A. The easier level should help his adjustment into full-time pro ball, as he develops his stuff. His fastball has consistently gotten up to mid-90s this year, with developments to his slider and changeup that will give him a five pitch mix. He could finish the year in the Altoona rotation.

ANTHONY SOLOMETO, LHP

CV: 25 | FV: 50 | MLB ETA: 2026 | FV ETA: 2027+ | Trend: DOWN

Solometo was previously in the above-average tier, but has struggled this year in Altoona, and is currently on the development list. I’m not ready to bump him down lower than this, as he’s in his age 21 season, and showed last year he could pitch at this level. He’s had control issues this year, and has been hit harder than last year. Solometo gets a lot of points for a deceptive delivery, but it hasn’t been fooling anyone this year.

ZANDER MUETH, RHP

CV: 15 | FV: 50 | MLB ETA: 2027+ | FV ETA: 2028+ | Trend: UP

The Pirates drafted Mueth 67th overall last year, and the prep pitcher has looked great in his pro debut. Mueth has a 1.65 ERA in 32.2 innings, with a 36:18 K/BB. He’s recently gotten up to five innings per start, with only one unearned run allowed in 15 innings across his last three outings. He has a fastball that can get up to the upper 90s from a funky lower arm slot, with the ability for strikeouts, and improved control during the month of June.

CHARLES MCADOO, 3B

CV: 25 | FV: 50 | MLB ETA: 2026 | FV ETA: 2027+ | Trend: UP

McAdoo has been the best hitting story in the Pirates system this year. Drafted in the 13th round last year out of San Jose State, he has combined for a .320/.412/.553 line in pro ball across three levels. He was recently promoted to Altoona, where he continues hitting with a 1.022 OPS through his first ten games. I decided to grade him as if he’s a future starter, though conservatively enough to project him arriving in the majors at age 24 and being a starter at age 25. That still makes him the second best hitting prospect in the system, and you could rank him higher if you’re buying the early results.

LONNIE WHITE JR., OF

CV: 20 | FV: 55 | MLB ETA: 2026 | FV ETA: 2028+ | Trend: FLAT

White was drafted 64th overall in 2021, but missed a lot of time the last two years with injuries. This was to be his first full season in pro ball. He’s currently out with an injury, but has shown plus power in his time on the field this year. White has 11 homers and a .220 isolated power in 231 plate appearances in High-A this year. He’s striking out at a high rate, and not hitting for average. The power at a younger age is great to see, with hopes that he can develop the hit tool. His FV grade is higher than anyone in this tier, but he’s another hitter who gets downgraded for the system trend.

TIER FOUR: FRINGE STARTERS

The players in this tier have a chance to make the majors as starters, though a more conservative projection has them around 45+ grades, which would be below-average for a Major League starter. There’s potential with each player, but something holding each of them back.

PATRICK REILLY, RHP

CV: 25 | FV: 50 | MLB ETA: 2026 | FV ETA: 2027+ | Trend: UP

The Pirates drafted Reilly in the fifth round last year, and he’s been one of the best non-Skenes pitchers in the draft class. Reilly currently leads the Pirates’ minor league system with 82 strikeouts, fueled by a fastball that sits mid-90s, and a pair of sliders that generate a lot of swing and miss. He also does well to work fast and mix his pitches well. Reilly has dealt with control problems, but is showing improvements in that area, and could be ready for a second-half promotion to Altoona.

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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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