Bucs land 5 prospects in Pipeline's Top 100

January 27th, 2024

The Pirates’ farm system is still as strong as ever at the top, and MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects reveal on Friday only solidified that point. 

Pittsburgh landed five prospects on the Top 100 list, led by 2023 No. 1 overall Draft pick , who remained at No. 3 behind the Orioles’ Jackson Holliday and the Brewers’ Jackson Chourio. Second baseman came in at No. 44, right-hander Jared Jones landed at No. 62, left-hander ranked No. 82 and right-hander debuted at No. 93.

Skenes has barely pitched as a professional, but he’s already seen as being on the cusp of the Majors. He pitched 6 2/3 innings across three Minor League affiliates in 2023 after leading LSU to the College World Series title by pitching eight shutout innings in a must-win semifinal game vs. Wake Forest and fellow Top 100 prospect Rhett Lowder. Skenes finished the season with a 1.69 ERA in 122 2/3 innings while pitching in the highly competitive SEC.

Skenes has the potential to impact the Pirates’ Major League rotation -- possibly before the All-Star break if he has more strong showings in the first few weeks of the season. Pittsburgh needs rotation arms, and the 21-year-old is seen as the strongest pitching prospect from the college ranks since Stephen Strasburg, who debuted on June 8, 2010, the year following his Draft.

Johnson dropped 15 spots from the end of 2023 to this year’s list, but he’s still comfortably in the Top 50 and produced well in his first full season. The 19-year-old hit 18 homers in 105 games last season and got on base at an outstanding .422 clip. He ended the season at High-A Greensboro, where he did so well that a promotion to Double-A Altoona could be in the cards if his first month or so is as strong.

Jones is the other Pirates pitcher who is on the doorstep of the big league club. He broke out with a 2.23 ERA in 10 starts at Double-A to begin 2023, and while his numbers weren’t nearly as impressive in his first taste of Triple-A Indianapolis, he got a lot more contact on the ground compared to his early days and struck out 99 batters in 82 innings.

Solometo was ranked the No. 5 left-handed pitching prospect by MLB Pipeline, and the funky lefty is facing stiff Double-A competition. He had a 4.35 ERA with Altoona in 51 2/3 innings to end the season, but he tore up High-A in a hitter-friendly Greensboro ballpark with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 58 2/3 innings.

Solometo has built a competitive bond with his 2021 Draft classmate Chandler, who is quickly rising up the ranks of prospect evaluators. Chandler was extremely durable last season, pitching 111 innings over 25 starts while striking out 128 batters. His 51 walks came back to hurt him, as he allowed 15 homers among 109 hits in the season. But that’s to be expected since he was a two-way player well into ‘22, and now he’s learning to repeat his delivery as his focus shifts to only pitching.

With these promising prospects leading the way, 2024 should be a very interesting year for the Pirates’ farm system, as the big league team is trying to take the 14-win jump it made last season and turn it into a contention window. If that happens, expect some -- if not all -- of these players to be part of sustaining it.

For more information on how the Top 100 Prospects list is determined, click here.