The Pittsburgh Pirates have the best record in baseball. At least right now, as I’m typing this, they do. The Bucs are an exciting big league club composed with a seemingly perfect balance of youthful talent and veteran savvy, and they have a legitimate chance at a pennant this year. But if we’re looking ahead to 2014, 2015, and beyond, Pittsburgh has a chance to be frighteningly good. Their system has already graduated top-shelf prospects like Starling Marte and Gerrit Cole, and there’s plenty more on the way. Gregory Polanco — currently at Double-A — is one of the brightest outfield prospects in the game, ranked #10 on my Mid-Season Top 50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects list. One spot ahead of Polanco on that list is the 6-foot-6 RHP, Jameson Taillon. Taillon’s projectable frame and elite stuff have him profiling as a top-of-the-rotation arm, and there are plenty folks around baseball who like his upside just as much as Gerrit Cole’s. The 21-year-old has showed some inconsistency this season at Double-A Altoona (3.67 ERA, 1.34 WHIP), but the Pirates, holding to their development plan, have promoted him to Triple-A. He looks to be exactly one year behind Cole, so it’s safe to assume we’ll be seeing Taillon with the big club next summer.Please, blog, may I have some more?
When you’re perusing the latest prospect lists for the next fantasy star, the next Mike Trout or Manny Machado, it’s important to keep in mind the variables that go into such rankings. Defensive ability plays a major role in player evaluation — it’s not all about the hit tool and the power potential. And when it comes to guys who play premium positions on the diamond (catcher, center field, shortstop), a plus defensive projection can vault a prospect far, far up the board. This sort of inflation based on defense oftentimes skews perspective when considering prospects from a fantasy perspective. When we constantly see a certain light-hitting shortstop pop up in the top 20 overall prospects at Baseball America or MLB.com, it can be easy to look past the scouting report and simply click “add player” once he surfaces in the bigs. To help avoid such unnecessary blunders, I’ve detailed a couple of the more highly-touted defense-first prospects below. I’ll go over a couple more next time through.Please, blog, may I have some more?
I really don’t want to spend much time on Endy Chavez. Which means basically two things. 1) I don’t think to much of the guy. 2) The Mariners outfield situation is bad. Really bad. Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if they still had a fourth outfielder that could play center and have some pop? Granted, they could have claimed Casper Wells, after the either previous DFA’s this past week, but pride goeth before a fall, or so they say. Well, now that I’m thinking about it, if I’m going to talk about Shelley Duncan and Don Kelly in previous iterations of this series, might as well make Chavez feel right at home. Hitting 269/308/367 for his career, that’s basically who he is. But he’s getting at-bats, so he’s filler if you need it. And if you need filler like that, bless your heart.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (8) | 2011 (8) | 2010 (20) | 2009 (29) | 2008 (13)
2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [76-86] NL West
AAA: [56-88] Pacific Coast League – Tucson
AA: [60-80] Texas League – San Antonio
A+: [69-71] California League – Lake Elsinore
A: [69-71] Midwest League – Fort Wayne
A(ss): [47-29] Northwest League — Eugene
Yonder Alonso (1B); Yasmani Grandal (C); Anthony Bass (RHP); Brad Brach (RHP); Dale Thayer (RHP)
The Run Down
Pitching depth is the best asset of this San Deigo farm system. From the upper levels down to the complex leagues, the Padres’ farm is flush with quality arms. There are high-ceiling arms, and there are safe, high-floor guys, too. That sort of depth is hugely important — strength in numbers usually prevails in the volatile practice of developing pitchers. This top ten, however, is headlined by hitters. Rymer Liriano, Jedd Gyorko, and Austin Hedges all bring high-impact upside for the fantasy game, and Gyorko could be providing plenty of value this season. It might not be the best system in baseball, but it’s a damn good one. We can look forward to this San Diego organization churning out fantasy-relevant talent in bulk for the next few years.