Sunday, November 11, 2012

Crystal Ball: The Pirates Farm System

Right now, Buried Treasure's top 30 prospects are being unveiled (check those out here).  That list, along with various prospect lists put out by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Minor League Ball, outlines the state of the Pirates farm system right now.  However, throughout next season, that farm system will continue to change and evolve.  When the season completes, more lists will come out that take the temperature of the Pirates farm system.

Here, the part about the season completing will be skipped.  Without a further ado, here's a look into the crystal ball and a look at the Pirates top 10 prospects after the 2013 season.

1. Gregory Polanco
2. Jameson Taillon
3. Alen Hanson
4. Luis Heredia
5. Josh Bell
6. Tyler Glasnow
7. Colin Moran*
8. Nick Kingham
9. Dilson Herrera
10. Clay Holmes

Bonus: Jose Osuna

*Drafted by the Pirates with the #9 overall pick in the 2013 draft

1. Gregory Polanco

Polanco has incredible tools and he's got all five of them.  In addition, Polanco also has good plate discipline.  All that - uber tools and a polished approach - gives Polanco tremendous upside that he could grow into early as next season.  If he does, he could move quickly through the Pirates system and could end the year in AAA and be one of the absolute best prospects in all of baseball.

2. Jameson Taillon

Gerrit Cole will most likely graduate this coming year, leaving Taillon as the Pirates best pitching prospect.  At the moment, Taillon is already one of the Pirates best prospects, so steady and consistent improvement this year would result in Taillon being one of the best prospects in baseball and keep him high up on Pirates lists.  This year, a specific area to watch for Taillon is the development of his change-up.

3. Alen Hanson

Hanson is incredibly exciting because of his excellent offensive ability combined with his ability to play defense up the middle of the diamond.  Hanson also has extreme youth on his side.  Combining these factors together and Hanson has great upside, although it's a tad lower than Polanco, due to both Hanson's size and questionable glove and arm at shortstop.  Hanson simply needs to build upon his consistent season last year to maintain his prospects status as one of the best shortstops in the minors and one of the Pirates top prospects overall.

4. Luis Heredia

Luis Heredia has unfathomable upside.  Heredia just legally became an adult three months ago and is already 6'7, throws in the upper-90's, and has already pitched stateside for two years.  Along with that is an advanced repertoire of secondary pitches.  In all honesty, Heredia could be #1 on this list due to his upside, but he's probably a year away.   Still, he'll have a huge opportunity pitching in full season ball for the first time.

5. Josh Bell

Josh Bell had incredible hype surrounding him coming into the season thanks to his five million dollar price tag, highest ever for a second round pick.  Early on, he had issues with plate discipline, but scouting reports still indicate an incredibly tantalizing prospect.  Then a knee injury ended the rest of Bell's season.  Hopefully he can come back fully healthy in 2013 and start the season either at State College or West Virginia and then quickly move up to Bradenton to prove his bonus was worth it and he's one of the better prospects in all of baseball.

6. Tyler Glasnow

Glasnow is my pick to be a huge helium guy this season.  I think he's got the potential to be a top 100 guy by the end of the season, although that's largely dependent on where the Pirates start him off next season.  If he's pushed to full season ball to pitch for the West Virginia Power and succeeds like he did this year, people across baseball will take notice.

7. Colin Moran

Personally, I hope the Pirates use their compensation pick - 9th overall - to pick North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran.  Moran is known for his pure hitting ability.  If he can stick at third and add a bit of power, Moran has the potential to be an all-star one day and would be a nice addition to the Pirates farm system.

8. Nick Kingham

Kingham had a solid second half this past season and if he can build on that, he could see his stock steadily rise as he likewise rises up the minor league ladder.  Kingham will never amaze with elite upside, but he's got a good mix of above-average stuff and solid pitchability and if he puts everything together, he could be a fringe top 100 prospect and eventually a guy in that number two/three starter range. 

9. Dilson Herrera

Dilson Herrera will be next year's Alen Hanson.  He won't be on the same exact level as Hanson because he has shown slightly worse plate discipline and less defensive acumen thus far, but on the flip side he might provide more power.  Herrera should make the jump from the GCL to West Virginia just like Hanson and I expect a similar helium burst.

10. Clay Holmes

Holmes has generated plenty of buzz and excitement thanks to a solid debut after receiving a huge bonus in the draft.  A scouting report indicates he has a great fastball complemented with a nasty slider.  If he starts develop his changeup, Holmes has front rotation potential, but it'll probably be a few years before he truly breaks out.

Bonus: Jose Osuna

Osuna will be the youngest player on the Bradenton Marauders this year.  If he can put up solid numbers this coming year, his youth and production will make him an intriguing prospect, especially if he can show more power.


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