Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dissecting the Pirates Farm System

Over the past several years, the Pirates farm system has steadily improved under the watch of general manager Neal Huntington.  At the moment, prior to the official graduation of Gerrit Cole, it may be at its zenith.  The farm system is absolutely loaded with both pitching and hitting prospects.  For fun, I decided to break the farm system into two systems, one consisting of just pitchers and the other of hitters. From there, I'll compare each Pirates farm system to farm systems league-wide, identifying those that that one or both of the Pirates farm systems are clearly stronger than.  This will show how incredible the Pirates farm system currently is and how balanced it is as well.

First is the pitchers.  Gerrit Cole has technically not graduated, although he almost certainly will have by the end of the season.  The Pirates top pitching prospects would be as follows, with personal preference obviously involved.

Gerrit Cole
Jameson Taillon
Luis Heredia
Nick Kingham
Tyler Glasnow
Kyle McPherson
Blake Taylor
Clay Holmes
Cody Dickson

Those are the names that standout and then there is the next "tier" if you will. That would consist of Andy Oliver, Stolmy Pimentel, Phil Irwin, Brandon Cumpton, Victor Black, Joely Rodriguez, Orlando Castro, Zach Dodson, Jake Burnette, Jason Creasy, Colton Brewer, Jon Sandfort, Buddy Bordon, Neil Kozikowsk, and Chad Kuhl.  I'm sure I missed a few guys too.

That's two top 25 overall prospects, three guys that have a strong argument to make the top 100 and a plethora of interesting C+ type guys.  The Pirates pitching farm system would currently - unsigned draft picks included - rank unequivocally better than, in alphabetical order, the Angels, Brewers, Dodgers, Giants, Phillies, Tigers, and White Sox.  They would be in the conversation the Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, and Nationals as well.

Second is the hitters. Adding McGuire - who has signed - and Meadows - who has not - provides the system with several good hitting prospects that may even rival the pitching prospects, dispelling the previous notion or the previous trend, depending on how one looks at it, that the Pirates farm system lacks bats.  The Pirates top hitting prospects would be as follows, with personal preference obviously involved.

Gregory Polanco
Alen Hanson
Josh Bell
Austin Meadows
Reese McGuire
Tony Sanchez
Dilson Herrera
Barrett Barnes
Stetson Allie
Max Moroff

For hitters there is also plenty of interesting names outside of the top guys listed above.  In no particular order, Wyatt Mathisen, Elvis Escobar, Harold Ramirez, Andrew Lambo, Adalberto Santos, Ivan De Jesus, Jin-De Jhang, Jacoby Jones, Alex Dickerson, Mel Rojas Jr., Jarek Cunningham, Kevin Ross, Danny Collins, Jose Osuna, Willy Garcia, Edwin Espinal, Michael De La Cruz, Julio De La Cruz, and Tito Polo. I'm sure I've missed guys worth mentioning here as well.

Comparing the hitters to the pitchers, Polanco and Hanson are both top 50 guys, with Polanco getting some recognition as a top 25 prospect overall.  They compare well to Cole and Taillon, although they are a bit behind.  The pitchers has Heredia, Kingham, and Glasnow as top 100 type guys and the hitters compare with a virtually equal trio of Bell, Meadows, and McGuire.  In the "third tier" the hitters actually come out ahead, with Sanchez, Herrera, Barnes, Allie, and Moroff looking better than McPherson, Taylor, Holmes, and Dickson, at least in my mind.  From there, the hitting depth is less than the pitching depth, even though there are plenty of names.

Again, the hitting prospects would definitely be better than the Angels, Brewers, Giants, Tigers, and White Sox farm systems.  It would be closer when comparing them to the Dodgers and Phillies, at least while Yasiel Puig is eligible for the Dodgers. The Pirates could put their hitters up against the Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, and Nationals, but they would have less of a case than the pitchers in the Pirates farm system.

All-in-all, essentially cutting the Pirates farm system in half still leaves enough talent to be substantially more impressive than half a dozen farm systems in baseball.  That's pretty incredible.  Add the halves together and the Pirates have one of the most formidable collections of minor league talent in baseball. In fact, they might have the best.  That's a great testament to the work Neal Huntington and the rest of the front office has done over the past several years and it sets up the Pirates to have success going into the future.


  1. nice article, keep it up

  2. thanks for all the work you do.


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