Has the rebuild begun? That remains to be seen on the field, though there are signs pointing that way. But there’s definitely a new direction in the front office.
Neal Huntington had been the general manager since September 2007, but was let go last October. He’s been replaced by Ben Cherington, who has a track record of helping to build up farm systems in Boston and Toronto.
His first order of business was to trade Starling Marte to the D-backs, getting back a pair of very talented, yet far away, prospects in Liover Peguero and Brennan Malone, both of whom fit nicely into the top third of Pittsburgh's new Top 30 list. They have a chance to help lift a farm system that’s generally thought of as solid, albeit not top of the rankings currently.
There is some impact-level talent, with the top two -- Mitch Keller and Ke’Bryan Hayes -- having the chance to help out in 2020. Right behind those two is Oneil Cruz, who is one of the most fascinating prospects in all of baseball, one who could make a huge leap forward and become one of the best prospects in the game before the year is over. The team has the No. 7 overall pick in the Draft this June, providing another chance to bring in young talent.
Whether or not Cherington and company make more trades to bring in additional young talent will be one of the more interesting storylines over the course of the '20 season. Competing this year in the NL Central is likely going to be tough, but the system has the chance to help flip the switch again, much like Huntington and company did when they took over.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2019 preseason list to the 2020 preseason list:
Jump: Mason Martin, 1B (2019: 31 | 2020: 15) -- Martin slugged his way across two levels of A ball and finished with 35 homers, showing his ability to get to his raw power is legit.
Fall: Jason Martin (2019: 11 | 2020: NR) – While Martin did make his big league debut in 2019, he only managed a .731 OPS at the offensive-friendly Triple-A level.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 -- Hayes
Power: 60 -- Mason Martin (Cruz)
Run: 70 -- Ji-Hwan Bae
Arm: 70 -- Cruz
Defense: 65 -- Hayes
Fastball: 70 -- Blake Cederlind
Curveball: 60 – Quinn Priester
Slider: 60 -- Brennan Malone
Changeup: 50 -- Keller (Malone, Priester, Cody Bolton, Braxton Ashcraft, Travis MacGregor, Steven Jennings)
Control: 55 -- Aaron Shortridge (Steven Jennings, Max Kranick)
How they were built
Draft: 20 | International: 6 | Trade: 4
Breakdown by ETA
2020: 5 | 2021: 8 | 2022: 12 | 2023: 5
Breakdown by position
1B: 2 | 2B: 3 | 3B: 3 | SS: 2 | OF: 8 | RHP: 12