Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Pre-Season Top 15 Prospects

Here is my Top 15 Prospect list for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The stats are from the 2011 season unless otherwise noted.

1. Gerrit Cole, RHP - 6-8, 3.31 ERA, 114.1 IP, 103 H, 24 BB, 119 K (College)

The 2011 #1 pick has 3 plus pitches and he maintains his high 90's velocity deep into games. The only question is his command as it is just average right not, but that still doesn't drop him off the top spot. Could be in the Pirates Opening Day rotation in 2013.

2. Jameson Taillon, RHP - 2-3, 3.98 ERA, 92.2 IP, 89 H, 22 BB, 97 K (A)

Taillon still put up very good numbers despite being limited to mostly working on his fastball command in West Virginia. Expect him to take off as he incorporates his devastating secondary pitches more in-game.

3. Starling Marte, OF - 536 AB, .332/.370/.500, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 22 BB, 100 K, 24 SB 12 CS (AA)

Marte dominated this spring but still got sent down to AAA. He is showing power now to complement his plus hitting, plus speed, and plus-plus arm as he has the potential to be the complete package in the outfield. The only question for him is if he can improve that BB/K ratio, but he should still be very productive even if it stays where it is.

4. Josh Bell, OF - 96 AB, .552/.687/1.073, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 48 BB, 5 K, 19 SB 3 CS (HS)

Bell was the talk of the 2011 draft, signing for $5 million as 2nd round pick after saying he was definitely heading to Texas. He has plus hitting ability and plus-plus power potential from both sides of the plate. There are high expectations on his shoulders, but he has the talent to easily fulfill them.

5. Luis Heredia, RHP - 1-2, 4.75 ERA, 30.1 IP, 28 H, 19 BB, 23 K (RK)

Heredia has ace potential right up there with Cole and Taillon, but he is a long way away from fulfilling that ceiling. He already throws in the mid 90's and he has four potential above-average to plus pitches with a smooth delivery for a 6'7" 17-year old.

6. Robbie Grossman, OF - 490 AB, .294/.418/.451, 13 HR, 56 RBI, 104 BB, 111 K, 24 SB 10 CS (A+)

Grossman had a breakout year repeating High A+ ball, becoming the first minor league player since Nick Swisher to have 100 runs and 100 walks in a year. He then went to the AFL and continued to dominate. Grossman is recovering from a hamate injury, but he is expected to move to AA where his bat will really be tested.

7. Stetson Allie, RHP - 0-2, 6.58 ERA, 26 IP, 20 H, 29 BB, 28 K (SS)

If any other player put up these numbers they wouldn't even be considered a prospect, but Allie gets a pass because he has elite stuff on the mound. Reports so far this Spring are that his command is greatly improving, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt for now, but I think ultimately his road to the Majors is as a closer.

8. Kyle McPherson, RHP - 12-6, 2.96 ERA, 161 IP, 137 H, 27 BB, 142 K (A+/AA)

A late bloomer, McPherson had a phenomenal 2011 culminating in being named the Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He throws 3 solid pitches with excellent command and is very close to Major League ready.

9. Tony Sanchez, C - 402 AB, .241/.340/.318, 5 HR, 44 RBI, 47 BB, 76 K, 5 SB 5 CS (AA)

Sanchez struggled mightily last season after an injury-plagued 2010. Reports are he is hitting the ball with more authority this spring and he is still an above-average defensive catcher, but he needs to have a good year to get back into the top prospect picture.

10. Jeff Locke, LHP - 8-10, 3.70 ERA, 153.1 IP, 143 H, 55 BB, 139 K (AA/AAA)

Locke really came on late in the year dominating the International League in 5 starts before getting roughed up a bit in his debut in Pittsburgh. He looks like he could be a solid #4 starter with good command of four pitches and should see time in the Majors at some point in 2012.

11. Nick Kingham, RHP - 6-2, 2.15 ERA, 71 IP, 63 H, 15 BB, 47 K (SS)

Kingham, like most young Pirate pitchers, focused mainly on fastball command in his first professional season and had a very nice season. He showed the potential for a plus curveball, so Kingham is a player to watch this year as he incorporates more pitches in his arsenal. 

12. Zack Von Rosenberg, RHP - 5-9, 5.73 ERA, 125.2 IP, 143 H, 23 BB, 114 K (A)

Von Rosenberg got lit up by HR's during the first half of the year, but showed improvements late in the year and had a very good BB/K ratio. He is still very young and I think last year's first half struggles may have just been a slight bump on his developmental path. A player to watch for 2012.

13. Colton Cain, LHP - 6-8, 3.64 ERA, 106.1 IP, 92 H, 31 BB, 81 K (A)

Cain had some mild success in West Virginia last year, he throws a low 90's fastball with an improving curveball. One of those guys who could jump up 7 spots or drop off this list entirely depending on how he develops this season.

14. Bryan Morris, RHP - 3-4, 3.35 ERA, 78 IP, 72 H, 33 BB, 64 K (AA)

Morris had some success with a move to the bullpen and I think this is his future role with the organization. With a mid 90's sinker and power slider, Morris could pitch in Pittsburgh sooner rather than later.

15. Alen Hanson, SS/2B - 198 AB, .263/.352/.429, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 21 BB, 34 K, 24 SB 6 CS (RK)

Hanson is extremely young and raw at the plate, but he has plus speed, gap power, and solid actions at SS. A player I really want to see produce in full season ball.


Jarek Cunningham, 2B - 310 AB, .258/.320/.516, 15 HR, 51 RBI, 17 BB, 82 K, 5 SB 2 CS (A+)

Cunningham shows excellent power from the 2B position and he has enough athletic ability to play the position at the Major League level. The real question with him is can he make improvements on his poor strike-zone discipline and make enough contact to use that power.

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