PITTSBURGH -- Last year, the Pirates saw their farm system make an impact in the Majors. Jameson Taillon was arguably their most consistent pitcher. Adam Frazier earned a spot on the bench. Chad Kuhl established himself. There were many more black-and-gold debuts last season, and that was just the first
PITTSBURGH -- Last year, the Pirates saw their farm system make an impact in the Majors. Jameson Taillon was arguably their most consistent pitcher. Adam Frazier earned a spot on the bench. Chad Kuhl established himself. There were many more black-and-gold debuts last season, and that was just the first wave of talent to reach PNC Park.
The Bucs landed five players on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, and two of them -- right-hander Tyler Glasnow and first baseman Josh Bell -- are ready to play in Pittsburgh this year. Two others -- outfielder Austin Meadows and shortstop Kevin Newman -- could be on the way soon, and right-hander Mitch Keller broke out as a potential ace last season.
:: Complete 2017 Top Prospects coverage ::
The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2017 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
Glasnow and Meadows each fell a spot from their mid-2016 rankings, but they are still among the top prospects in baseball, with Glasnow coming in at No. 9 and Meadows ranked 10th overall.
• MLB Pipeline's 2017 Top 100 Prospects list
Glasnow will compete for a spot in the Pirates' Opening Day rotation, but he could begin the season in Triple-A Indianapolis after an up-and-down big league debut. His control is still an issue, as he walked 75 batters in 134 innings between Triple-A and the Majors last season. But he remained unhittable in Triple-A, posting a 1.87 ERA with 133 strikeouts and 65 hits allowed in 110 2/3 innings over 20 starts.
Meadows, a former first-round pick, will start in Triple-A, but he may be ready for the big leagues later this year if he stays healthy. Meadows still appears to be Andrew McCutchen's successor in the outfield after dominating at Double-A last season (.976 OPS in 45 games) and playing 37 games in Triple-A.
Bell, who is still technically a rookie after his debut last season, checks in at No. 27 on this year's list. The switch-hitting slugger is expected to be Pittsburgh's everyday first baseman this season. He hit .273/.368/.406 with more walks (21) than strikeouts (19) in 152 plate appearances for the Pirates last season. He is also baseball's second-best first-base prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.
Keller took a huge leap up the rankings, jumping 24 spots to No. 48, after an outstanding season in which he was named the Pirates' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The 20-year-old starter posted a 2.46 ERA with 131 strikeouts and a 7.28 strikeout-to-walk ratio for Class A West Virginia. A second-round Draft pick in 2014, Keller should begin the year with Class A Advanced Bradenton, continuing his climb toward Pittsburgh.
Newman fell 17 spots in the rankings, to No. 59 overall, despite another strong year in which he dominated the Florida State League and advanced to Double-A Altoona. Overall, Newman -- the Bucs' top pick in the 2015 Draft -- hit .320 with an .814 OPS in 102 games last season.
With five prospects in the top 60, the Pirates accumulated 352 "prospect points," which show how each club ranks in terms of its representation on the Top 100 list. Each prospect is assigned a point value, with 100 for No. 1, 99 for No. 2 and so on. The Pirates ranked fourth in the Majors by that metric behind the Yankees (414), White Sox (379) and Braves (363).
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.