Avast ye mateys treasures of prospective goodness lies within. It’s everybody’s favorite C+ student back again with our second to last minor league preview of the year. Our top 100 prospect list will drop a week from today, so for those of you asking, it’s coming. Now for all of you swashbuckling buckaroos out there let’s have a deeper look at one of the more successful minor league systems over the past decade, the Pirates. In fact in the past 10 years they’ve graduated players like Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, and Gerrit Cole. Despite the recent MLB success, the Pirates still own one of the top farms in all of MLB. Boasting at least 4 top 100 guys on most lists as well as a handful of specs just outside. From a fantasy perspective their aren’t many teams with a more exciting group of perspective players.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level:A+/AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 109.1 IP, 2.39ERA, 3.5 BB/9, 11.2 K/9
Outside of Julio Urias and Lucus Giolito there are no better pitching specs in the game, and just like the aforementioned duo Glasnow finds himself on the cusp of breaking through to the big league roster. A 6’8 giant with a power arm capable of hitting 99 on the gun, Glasnow cruised through the upper levels of the minors last season, posting a 2.39 ERA, with a 11.2 K/9 and a 3.16 SO/W ratio. He’s the owner of two plus pitches in the fastball and curveball, as well as an average third pitch in his change. He has all the makings of a future ace.
Austin Meadows, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 584 PA, .310/.360/.420, 7 HR, 21 SB, 7.3% BB, 14.3% K
What if I told you that the Pirates had an outfielder with speed, a plus hit tool and approach, and some raw power upside? Would you think you were looking at a scouting report from years back on McCuthchen, Marte, or Polanco? Well you’re not! The outfield factory know as Pittsburgh minors is at it again with a high end outfield prospect. Meadows was the compensation pick after Mark Appel failed to sign with the Pirates following the 2012 draft. Meadows hangs his hat on a plus hit tool, excellent command of the zone, and puts it all together in a compact left handed swing. He’s a solid runner capable of stealing 15-20 bases, and once his power develops you’re looking at a 15/15 threat. Should be up in 2017, but who he replaces in the Pirates outfield or if he plays for the Bucs at all is the bigger question.
Josh Bell, 1B/OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 489 PA, .317/.393/.446, 7 HR, 9 SB, 11.3% BB, 11.3% K
Let’s just get this out of the way, I heart Josh Bell. I have his name on my Lisa Frank trapper keeper and I’m not crossing his name off for nobody. Bell’s been in the minors for what seems like forever, but he’s still young (23), and has shown the ability across all levels to hit for a high average, and walk as much as he K’s. The knock on Bell is obvious, where’s the power? He hasn’t had double digit homers since 2013 in A ball, and only managed 7 over 570 PA in AA/AAA. With that said he did show improved pop last year slugging .504 over the final 35 games in AAA. Unless John Jaso and Michael Morse A. Stay healthy B. Exceed expectations/don’t suck, Bell should be up this season.
Jameson Taillon, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: N/A
2015 Stats: N/A
It’s been two years since we’ve seen the big righty with the hard fastball, but he’s never really left the conciseness of the fantasy baseball collective. He had the unfortunate luck of needing TJ in April of 2014, which led to him missing nearly two years before returning in instructional ball late last season. A sports hernia ended his 2015, but if he can stay healthy and pickup where he left off in 2013 then Taillon could find himself making an impact in the Buc’s rotation this season.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Harold Ramirez, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 344 PA, .337/.399/.458, 4 HR, 22 SB, 7.2% BB, 13.9% K
Right handed hitting centerfielder who’s batted .306 throughout his minor league career. He’s thickly built, but at this point is more of a line drive hitter. He’s got above average wheels and puts them to use, stealing 22 bases last year in high A Bradenton. He’s looking to hit, but will take a walk. I think he’s one of the more underrated future fantasy bats in the minors.
Alen Hanson, 2B | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA
2015 Stats: 529 PA, .263/.313/.387, 6 HR, 35 SB, 6.9% BB, 17.2% K
Are we talking Neil Walker’s replacement or a future utility guy? Hanson brings one premier skill and that’s his speed on the bases. He led the International League in stolen bases last season and has flashed a little pop, but he’s more of a 10 homer type. He’s seems likely to break camp with Pirates as the starting second baseman.
Kevin Newman, SS | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 283 PA, .257/.318/.350, 2 HR, 13 SB, 6.7% BB, 10.6% K
A first round pick this year out of Arizona, he’s a singles hitter that can talk a walk. He’s still two years away but with good speed and on base ability he could develop into a solid leadoff guy. His defense should keep him at shortstop long term.
Reese McGuire, C | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 412 PA, .254/.301/.294, 0 HR, 14 SB, 6.3% BB, 9.4% K
Here’s s player that’s plastered all over top 100 lists that you probably want to ignore in fantasy. McGuire has built his rep on good catching and all that come with it. He’s a good athlete and actually offers something in the way of steals, but it ends there. He’s a .250 hitter with little power at all, not even that gap stuff.
Nick Kingham, RHP |Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: AAA
2015 Stats: 31.1 IP, 4.31 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, 9.2 K/9
After injuring his elbow in May of last year Kingham is more than likely on the shelf for 2016. It’s unfortunate and eerily similar to the timing with Taillon. So we won’t see him in the majors until 2017. Floor is pretty solid, probably a 8 k/9 guy, with decent WHIP and ERA.
Willy Garcia, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/AAA
2015 Stats: 515 PA, .275/.314/.431, 14 HR, 4 SB, 4.4% BB, 23.8% K
A toolsy raw outfielder with some decent power, if he can further refine his game, aka take a walk, he has a shot at a callup. I think the hope here is a 20-25 homer guy with some speed and a passable average.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexyceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs.
Cole Tucker, SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 329 PA, .293/.322/.377, 2 HR, 25 SB, 4.8% BB, 14.8% K
A switch-hitting shortstop that should stick at the position. Tucker was hitting a solid .293 in his first full pro season before a labrum tear ended it prematurely. He’ll most likely miss most of 2016, but he’s an intriguing prospect of only for the speed and average from the shortstop position.
Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B | Age: 19 | ETA: 2020 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 227 PA, .308/.408/.346, 0 HR, 8 SB, 12.3% BB, 13.6% K
A young third baseman with a plus hit tool, Hayes is the son of former major leaguer Charlie Hayes. He rarely chases bad pitches and shows approach beyond his years.
Jordan Luplow, 3B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 465 PA, .264/.366/.464, 12 HR, 11 SB, 12.6 % BB, 14.4% K
This is one of the least talked about players in the Pirates system with some of the bigger upside. He’s shown the ability to hit for power, average, and take a walk. Has had some injury issues but worth keeping an eye on.
Yeudy Garcia, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 124.1 IP, 2.10 ERA, 3.0 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
An older international signing, Garcia has taken time to develop and still needs more. Put up pretty nice numbers this season at low A West Virginia. Some think his ceiling is a mid-rotation starter or closer.