Pitchers and Catchers are in!!!! Time to get started on another season of Pirate baseball. And for the first time in a long time the Prospects are deep in the system and the future feels solid. So, it is time for my top 20 Prospects.
1. Gerrit Cole - Really, really excited about his appearance this year. He made it to AAA and a slightly less than impressive year for Tailon gives him the top spot.
2. Jameson Tailon - Still great. Probably going back to AA, but he still has ace stuff.
3. Luis Heredia - I may be a little higher on this kid than some, but all agree he has ace upside. I think what he did as a 17 year old in Short Season ball last year was amazing. He may have a way to go, but I think he is the 3rd best prospect.
4. Josh Bell - Remember when everyone was so high on this kid that he was sometimes listed as the second best prospect or at least 3rd? Sure he got hurt and his knee did not heal as fast as we would have liked. But, there is no reason to think his skills have declined. He started a little slow, but was coming around when he got hurt.
5. Gregory Polanco - What an amazing year last year. He has the tools to play. I don't quite understand why people push him ahead of Bell so quickly, but still a lot to be excited about here.
6. Tyler Glasnow - Most do not have this young man so high, but he can hit 96, and seems comfortable at 94. Sure he has some control issues, but who doesn't at 18. He has good movement on his fastball, and one can expect his curve to get better and a change up to be developed.
7. Dilson Herrera - This is probably not who you expected to see here. But I think Dilson got the short end of the publicity stick last year. Dilson hit GCL pitching very well. He led the GCL in total bases and extra bases, which I think could turn into power as he gets older. Bat speed equals power not frame right? He had 7 homers. He can field second base without a problem, and does not strike out a whole lot. And let us not forget that he had an amazing hitting streak in the VSL two years ago that I believe topped 20 games. The kid can play.
8. Nick Kingham - I have been high on this guy since he was drafted, and I still am. He can throw 93, and has a nice curve. He got promoted to High A, and still seemed to be consistent. I expect he may start there again, but will get a mid season up grade to AA. He is a number 3 starter and maybe a 2.
9. Clay Holmes - He throws in the low 90s and could add more velocity as his frame fills out. He has a curve that projects well, and he pitched in State College showing fairly well. A big test for him this year as he goes to full season ball.
10. Kyle McPherson - It seems odd to have a guy who might be on the staff by the end of year this low on the list. This is new for the Pirates. He pitched a little at the major league level last year and has the arm to do it. He should start in AAA as he only had a handful of starts there. Great fastball, and now with a taste of the bigs under his belt, I expect he will do very well.
11. Alen Hanson - WHAT? Hanson down out of the top 10? Yes, I am not as high on Hanson as most. Don't get me wrong, the kid looks to have an amazing bat and a good eye to boot. Pretty rare for a Pirate these days. But 40 errors! Man oh man that is a lot. He cannot stay at short. Not with those kind of errors. And they are not Shawn Dustin errors where his arm is just too jacked up to throw straight. No, he has glove trouble. And I hope they put him at second this year because he needs the practice at where he is going to stick. And I can't see it at short.
12. Vic Black - This guy is a future closer. I think this is why you trade Hanrahan. Let Grilli close this year while Black gets some AAA time, and next year with Black as your set up man. And then Black gets the job full time. He can do 98 on his fastball and has a curve ball that is above average. I hear he is adding a two seam fastball. This should help with throwing strikes to avoid walks which is his problem right now. But what closer does not make things interesting.
13. Wyatt Mathisen - He hit well for a high schooler, and more importantly he walked almost as much as he struck out. Another rare feat for a high school kid. He played short in high school, and that added dimension makes him a high rated prospect for me.
14. Barret Barnes - He seemed to be a fine hitter, but I don't think he will stay in center. The defensive versatility of Mathisen pushed Barnes down a slot.
15. Bryan Morris - I admit I have never been very high on Morris, but he had a good enough year in the pen in AAA last year to make me think he can contribute in a major league pen. He will probably make the team out of camp as he is out of options.
16. Tony Sanchez - His good defense keeps him in the top 20, but his inability to hit makes him the second best catcher in the organization right now. He looks like a bench catcher, and that is not good enough. I hope he hits for some average and power as he has been unable to put them together.
17. Justin Wilson - sometimes I forget this guy should qualify as a prospect. He was up in 2011 out of the pen. And again last year. He should stay in the pen. He is not going to make it as a starter, and he is not going to lower his walks either. Good enough stuff to keep him in the top 20.
18. Phil Irwin - I have not seen Irwin get enough credit. He just does not have the velocity or flare for it. But his stats don't lie. The kid wins. He had a 117/24 K/BB ratio, and that includes a 28/7 ratio in AAA where he only pitched 21 innings and posted a 3-0 record.
19. Jose Osuna - Hard to say if he deserves it, but played well at Single A. He hit .280 slugged over .450 and his OPS was near .800. And surprisingly he only had a 15% strikeout rate. We will see what he does this year at High A.
20. Colten Brewer - While I could have gone a lot of ways here (Duke Welker, Andy Oliver, Adrian Sampson, Willy Garcia, etc) I went with Colten. He held his own last year in the GCL. He had a 2 to 1 K to BB ratio, and only gave up three homers. He is young, and is going to get faster on his fastball, and better all around. I think that makes his upside a little higher than the others.
I know this list is a bit controversial. But overall I am excited about this team.
Bring on the season.