It’s rebuild time in the world of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Now, it’s possible the Pirates brass would never publicly label it as such, but it’s hard to call it anything else. Gone are Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon and Joe Musgrove. And that’s just in the past few months and doesn’t count the 2020 Starling Marte trade.
In return has been a large mass of prospects and while it’s been more quantity than elite-level quality, three of the new Pirates’ top 10 are relatively recent trade acquisitions who have yet to play an official game with the organization (Two other top 10 prospects, Oneil Cruz and Tahnaj Thomas, came in earlier deals). In total, there are 11 players on the Top 30 who were acquired via trade, more than any other organization this year.
That’s provided the Pirates some needed depth in their system. Meanwhile, the Pirates have used the Draft well to bring in impact-level talent at the top of the list. The top 3, all in the Top 100, were first-round picks. Nick Gonzales was the first first-rounder by the new regime, led by GM Ben Cherington, while Quinn Priester (2019) and National League Rookie of the Year candidate Ke’Bryan Hayes (2015) were taken when Neal Huntington was general manager. All three were selected under the watchful eye of scouting director Joe DelliCarri.
All of the moves have helped build out the system to the point they are in the Top 10, landing at No. 8, for the first time since before the start of the 2017 season, with a chance to move up the ranks if the lower-level talent acquired takes steps forward as Minor League play resumes in 2021.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2020 preseason list to the 2021 preseason list.
Jump: Tahnaj Thomas, RHP (2020: 13 | 2021: 7) -- He has the most upside of any pitcher in the system not named Quinn Priester, with a fastball that touches triple digits.
Fall: Santaigo Florez, LHP (2020: 16 | 2021: NR) -- He’s young and has size to go along with some raw tools, so there’s time for him to climb back on, but there’s some concern about command and a lot of the trade acquisitions bumped him down.
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 -- Ke’Byan Hayes (Nick Gonzales)
Power: 60 -- Mason Martin (Oneil Cruz)
Run: 70 -- Ji-Hwan Bae
Arm: 70 -- Oneil Cruz
Defense: 75 -- Ke’Bryan Hayes
Fastball: 70 -- José Soriano
Curveball: 60 -- Quinn Priester
Slider: 60 -- Brennan Malone
Changeup: 55 -- Carmen Mlodzinski (Miguel Yajure, Eddy Yean, Roansy Contreras, Wil Crowe)
Control: 55 -- Miguel Yajure (Omar Cruz, Max Kranick)
How they were built
Draft: 16 | International: 2 | Trade: 11 | Rule 5: 1
Breakdown by ETA
2021: 6 | 2022: 9 | 2023: 12 | 2024: 3
Breakdown by position
C: 1 | 1B: 1 | 2B: 2 | 3B: 2 | SS: 2 | OF: 6 | RHP: 15 | LHP: 1