PITTSBURGH -- All winter, the Pirates have talked about "bridging the gap" between their current core and the one on its way. You can see their foundation at PNC Park -- players such as Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.
On Friday night, MLBPipeline's list of baseball's Top 100 Prospects offered a glimpse at the Pirates' future stars, some of whom could force their way into the big league picture as soon as this season. Pittsburgh placed five prospects on this year's list, all of them expected to play at Double-A or above in 2016.
Complete Top 100 Prospects coverage
The Pirates are represented on the list by Triple-A right-handers Tyler Glasnow (No. 10) and Jameson Taillon (No. 54) and first baseman Josh Bell (No. 49), along with Double-A outfielder Austin Meadows (No. 20) and catcher Reese McGuire (No. 98).
• MLB Pipeline's 2016 Top 100 Prospects list
The annual ranking of baseball'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 2016 season are eligible for the list. The rankings follow the guidelines laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, in terms of who falls under the international pool money rules: 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, 22, remains a top 10 prospect after checking in at No. 7 on last year's midseason Top 100 list. The 6-foot-8 right-hander, MLBPipeline's No. 2 right-handed pitching prospect, is one step away from the Majors and should make his big league debut at some point this year.
Last year, Glasnow jumped from Double-A Altoona to Triple-A Indianapolis, posting a combined 7-5 record and 2.39 ERA with 136 strikeouts in 109 1/3 innings. General manager Neal Huntington recently said the Bucs had "legitimate discussions" about calling up Glasnow in September.
Meadows, the ninth overall pick in the 2013 Draft, spent most of last year with Class A Advanced Bradenton. The 20-year-old center fielder hit .310 with a .781 OPS and 21 stolen bases in 127 games last season before finishing the year in the Arizona Fall League.
Bell, 23, is the Minors' second-ranked first-base prospect, according to MLBPipeline. The switch-hitter batted .317/.393/.446 with seven home runs and 78 RBIs between Altoona and Indianapolis last season.
Bell still has room to improve defensively at first base, and the Pirates believe he will develop more home run power. Still, Bell is undoubtedly the Bucs' future at first base -- and that future could arrive later this year.
Taillon, the second overall pick in the 2010 Draft, has been set back by injuries, but he is expected to make his long-awaited Major League debut at some point this season. The 24-year-old right-hander hasn't pitched in an affiliated game since '13, when he went 5-10 with a 3.73 ERA for Altoona and Indianapolis.
McGuire rounds out the list for the Pirates. The 20-year-old catcher's strength is his defense behind the plate. The 14th overall pick in 2013, McGuire spent all of last season in Bradenton, batting .254/.301/.294 with 34 RBIs. Like Meadows, he finished the year in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .294 with a .791 OPS.