Razzball is not responsible if you contract scurvy while reading this post. Ahoy readers! We’re on the high seas! Feel the wind on your face, the salty sea air in your lungs, and the vomit in your upper esophagus. You should have told us about the sea sickness before we left port. I’ll be guiding you through ten of the most notorious buccaneers in these waters. After a long night of cracking Jenny’s teacup, you’ll want to put up your peg leg(s), take a shot of rum, and enjoy a bit o’ light reading. Blow me down! I see booty ye bilge-sucking grog blossom!
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1. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019
Hayes is a toolsy third base prospect who has shown a good approach at each level in the minor leagues. He should finally get a shot at some big league at bats later this season with a chance for a full time gig in 2020. He’ll likely spend most of this season in Triple-A. He’s not known for his power, but should contribute in steals, average, and on-base percentage. Depending on his spot in the lineup, he could also be a source of RBIs, especially if he develops a bit more power down the road.
2. Travis Swaggerty, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2021
Swaggerty was selected 10th overall by the Pirates in last year’s draft, and the left-handed bat should move quickly through the system. He had an okay debut – five homers and nine steals in 230 plate appearances. He’s the typical center field / leadoff profile with the chance to make an impact in runs and steals. Average power completes the profile – a pretty well-rounded prospect.
3. Mitch Keller, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019
Keller’s been around a good while, drafted out of high school back in 2014. This could be the year he finally reaches the bigs after throwing about 50 innings in Triple-A last season. He has a plus heater that can touch triple-digits, and pairs that with an above average curve and change. Steamer is giving him about 90 innings in the majors this season, and I’d say that’s spot on. His walk rate has trended in the wrong direction over the past two seasons though, so I’m a little concerned it will be a rocky debut.
4. Cole Tucker, SS | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019
Tucker is a another hit/speed guy without much power. That’s not to say he can’t get to 6-8 homers, but expecting more than that is probably a stretch. If you go by just the Grade A guys in this system, it looks like the Pirates have a bunch of table setters and nobody to clear it. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…but wait…there’s hope at #5…
5. Oneil Cruz, SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2021
Okay, so there’s an awful lot to like here with Cruz. Plus power paired with a decent hit tool and on-base skills, plus a bit of speed. He played his first full season for the Pirates in 2018 at the Single-A level, where he hit .286 with 14 homers and 11 steals in 450 plate appearances. The ceiling is a 30-homer guy (not necessarily at short but somewhere). If he rakes in High-A this year, and keeps cutting his strikeout rate, his stock should skyrocket. I’m probably not even high enough on him now.
6. Juan Pie, OF | Age: 17 | ETA: 2023
If I’m too low on Cruz, I’m probably too high on Pie. Can you get high on pie? Like, can you bake cannabis into a pie? Asking for a friend. Pie has the offensive tools to be a star, it’s just obviously a long journey ahead of him. He hit .260 with a pair of homers and seven steals in the DSL in 2018. I’m probably old and biased and this isn’t true anymore, but I tend to trust certain organizations and their international signings. The Pirates are one of those orgs for me.
7. Kevin Kramer, 2B | Age: 25 | ETA: 2019
There is probably no better proof of my blatant ageism than this ranking and the one above it. Kramer put together a nice season at Triple-A in 2018 with a .311 average, 15 homers, and 13 steals. I’m not sure there’s a place for him in the Pirate middle infield though, and that could put him in AAAA purgatory. Ya know, I don’t think the real purgatory would be that bad. I mean, there’s always that chance your number will be called and you’ll go to heaven. It’s the anticipation that’s exciting!
8. Calvin Mitchell, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2021
Mitchell hit .280 with ten homers and four steals in the Sally in 2018. I don’t think he’ll have much value to the club on defense, so you are stacking your chips on his bat. That ceiling isn’t super high either though – he’s probably a .270 hitter with 15-18 homers if everything clicks.
9. Pablo Reyes, UTIL | Age: 25 | ETA: 2019
Reyes is fun because I don’t think the Pirates are going to pretend he’s something he’s not. Reyes has average tools, but they all play up thanks to his grinder attitude. He has a great approach, and in one of those super-deep dynasty formats he’d be a low-cost investment as a backup. Sometimes the C-Grade players are the real heroes…you know there is always going to be some cat that comes out of nowhere.
10. Lolo Sanchez, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2021
Sanchez is just an average hitter, but he has plus speed and is young enough that there is still room for improvement – both mentally and physically. He hit four homers and stole 30 bags in the Sally last season, striking out in just 16% of his appearances and walking in 9%. Here’s a totally unscientific approach to prospects – 19 years old seems like a swing year for the stock. I have absolutely nothing to back that up with. Just thinking out loud. Maybe a future post. Enjoy the rest of your week!