Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (1) | 2013 (7) | 2012 (13) | 2011 (19) | 2010 (15)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [88-74] NL Central
AAA: [73-71] International League – Indianapolis
AA: [61-81] Eastern League – Altoona
A+: [78-61] Florida State League – Bradenton
A: [54-81] South Atlantic League – West Virginia
A(ss): [35-40] New York-Penn League – Jamestown
30 teams…300 prospects…and we’ve reached the mountaintop. The Pirates continue to have a very strong farm system this year with a nice balance of hitting and pitching. Adding IFA Jung-Ho Kang makes it even stronger. While they’re thin on southpaws, they’re stacked with solid right-handed pitching. Gerrit Cole has already come up and established his value, but Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, and Nick Kingham should be ready to join him in the rotation at some point this year or next. The Pirates have had success developing Latin American talent like Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte, and they’ll look to continue that trend with prospects like Alen Hanson, Harold Ramirez, and Tito Polo. On a side note, this last minor league preview is a little bittersweet for me, as it will also be my last post with the site. I’ve accepted an offer to scout for the Phillies. The offer was just too good to pass up and hopefully I can help them find the next Domonic Brown. I wish you all the best and really appreciated my time here at Razzball.
Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1. Josh Bell, 1B/OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
Plus power and an above average hit tool carry Bell to the top of this list. The 22-year-old recently started playing some first base, which will give the Pirates more flexibility and possibly allow Bell to reach the majors sooner. He’s a switch hitter who reached Double-A in 2014 and slashed .287/.343/.309 in 24 games. The end product here could be .270 with 22-25 homers in the middle of a lineup, and that will have value no matter where he ends up defensively. Bell will return to Double-A to start 2015, where he’ll look to fine tune his approach against better pitching.
2. Austin Meadows, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2017
There’s potential here for a five-category contributor, but there just haven’t been enough reps yet for things to come into focus. Between 2013 and 2014 Meadows logged less than 400 plate appearances, so you’re betting on the positive scouting reports and package of tools more than any minor league production to date. As Meadows fills out, he could begin to trade some of his speed for more power. Fantasy owners won’t complain as long as it doesn’t also come at the expense of his average. A healthy 2015 season will help to address some of the question marks, but as you can tell from the ranking I’m still buying shares here.
3. Tyler Glasnow, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2016
2014 was a big year for the right-hander. Glasnow spent the entire season in High-A and, outside of an elevated walk rate, he pretty much dominated. Both the fastball and curve are plus pitches, and the changeup is at least average. Granted, the FSL is one of the leagues in the minors that is kind to pitchers, but Glasnow continued to pitch well in the AFL this past fall, striking out 20 batters in just over 19 innings pitched. The ceiling is a #2 starter, but Glasnow will have to improve both the control and command of his arsenal to reach it – not uncommon for young arms as command is typically the last piece of the puzzle to develop. He’ll face a big test this year in Double-A.
4. Jameson Taillon, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016
Tommy John surgery sidelined Taillon for all of 2014, but he’ll be back on the mound to start the year and could see the majors later this year if all goes well. Even with Glasnow’s impressive 2014, Taillon is still right there with him. A double-plus fastball, plus curveball, and above average change give Taillon #2 starter upside and the strikeout potential to make him studly in fantasy. It will take some time for the stuff to return back to pre-injury levels, but it also extends the buy-low window for dynasty leaguers looking to land a top shelf pitching prospect at a discount. I strongly considered including him in my Top 5o.
5. Jung-ho Kang, SS | Age: 27 | ETA: 2015
We don’t know much about how KBO stats translate to the majors, but it would be at least on par with the Cal League in terms of an extreme hitting environment. Based on the video game numbers even borderline major leaguers have put up in the KBO, we can’t assume Kang will hit for the same power here. Still, let’s say he gets to 15-20 homers…that’s not bad at all from a shortstop. That’s where the other question comes into play though. Kang may be a better fit at third or second base than short and there are also questions surrounding his ability to hit for a decent average against major league pitching. I’m not taking him in the first round of dynasty drafts this year due to his age and those question marks, but he’s a fun late round pick in redrafts. He’ll likely start the year in the majors despite the crappy spring.
6. Alen Hanson, MI | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
It seems like Hanson might be underrated in fantasy circles when in fact he’s probably more valuable in fantasy than in real life. The two knocks against him seem to be his defense and his makeup – two factors that rank last and next-to-last on the list of things I care about in my fantasy prospects. Hanson has a power/speed combination that will be valuable at either second or short, but there has been some talk that second base is where he’ll eventually wind up. Neil Walker isn’t going anywhere yet, but Hanson could still see some time in the majors later this year. In 2016, he may get a real shot at the keystone in Pittsburgh and would be a 15/15 threat out of the gate.
7. Harold Ramirez, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2017
Ramirez lost time in 2014 to hamstring and shin injuries, but still possesses a package of tools that will be valuable in fantasy. He hasn’t tested the tools against upper minors competition yet, but the 20-year-old Ramirez has plus speed, an above average hit tool, and average power. That’s a .270 hitter with around 15 homers and 25 steals if everything breaks right. Between the minor injuries and low-minors resume, I’m finding Ramirez to be readily available in most dynasty leagues either on the wire or as a trade throw-in. There are questions about his approach, but he could make some large gains this season with a healthy year.
8. JaCoby Jones, SS | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
We’re told not to scout the stat lines, but it’s hard to overlook the 2014 season Jones had. The bad news is he accumulated those numbers as a 22-year-old in Single-A, so you’d expect him to do well. The good news is that tools are tools, and Jones has both the power and speed to be a fantasy asset, especially as a shortstop. He’ll head to High-A in 2015, but the real test will come with a jump to Double-A, where his contact issues may be exposed against better arms.
9. Cole Tucker, SS | Age: 18 | ETA: 2018
The Pirates took Tucker 24th overall in the 2014 draft. He had a solid debut in the Gulf Coast League and if the Pirates are aggressive with him, he’ll skip short-season ball to start 2015. With plus speed and above average power, Tucker makes a nice fantasy prospect worth taking in the early rounds of a first-year player draft. The only blemish here is the extended ETA and lack of experience against more advanced pitching. So far so good though. He could be in the top half of this list at this time next year.
10. Tito Polo, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018
I used to frequent a dive strip club called Tito Pollo in my single days. They had killer chicken fajitas but the dancers were just meh. Now I’m writing about Tito Polo on a fantasy baseball prospect report and my life has come full circle. Polo has a balanced offensive profile in the outfield that should play well in fantasy. Still just 20 years old, there’s a chance he develops more power to go along with some speed and contact skills. He’ll get his first taste of full-season ball in 2015 and could make some noise this season with a strong start in the Sally.