PITTSBURGH -- Built around cornerstone players like Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, the Pirates are ready to contend for a fourth straight postseason appearance this year. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh continues to lay the foundation for its next generation in the Minor Leagues.In the third part of our Spring Training series, let's
PITTSBURGH -- Built around cornerstone players like Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, the Pirates are ready to contend for a fourth straight postseason appearance this year. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh continues to lay the foundation for its next generation in the Minor Leagues.
In the third part of our Spring Training series, let's look at some prospects to watch in big league camp at Pirate City and McKechnie Field -- and a few who could make their way to Pittsburgh later this year.
• Comeback candidates | Newcomers
RHP Tyler Glasnow: Glasnow will be one of the Minors' most-watched prospects as fans await his arrival. MLBPipeline.com's No. 10 overall prospect and No. 2 right-hander, Glasnow is set to begin the season with Triple-A Indianapolis. The 22-year-old still has room to grow, polishing his fastball command and changeup, but he has all the makings of a top-of-the-rotation arm.
1B Josh Bell: Despite concerns about his power, Bell's bat isn't the question. The 23-year-old switch-hitter has hit well at every level, and the Pirates believe more home runs will come with time. The challenge for Bell, the No. 49 overall prospect and No. 2 first baseman, is on defense. Last season was his first as a full-time first baseman, and he's still getting comfortable there.
RHP Jameson Taillon: After two years of grueling rehab work, Taillon is cleared to compete. It's a welcome change for the No. 54 overall prospect, returning from Tommy John surgery and a hernia operation. How will his behind-the-scenes work translate to the mound? How much time will he need in Triple-A before he's ready for the big leagues?
C Reese McGuire: McGuire likely will open the season with Double-A Altoona, so Spring Training is mostly a chance for the No. 98 overall prospect and fourth-ranked catcher to get a feel for big league camp and work with the pitchers, catchers and coaches.
C Elias Diaz: Diaz got a brief taste of the big leagues last year, a few months after his arm and bat caught everyone's attention in Spring Training. Expect Diaz, MLBPipeline.com's sixth-ranked catching prospect, to be the full-time backstop in Triple-A -- and on speed dial if anything happens to Francisco Cervelli or Chris Stewart.
2B Alen Hanson: The 23-year-old might have the clearest path to the Opening Day roster of anyone on this list. If Jung Ho Kang isn't back, Josh Harrison could move from second to third base. The second-base job likely will fall to Sean Rodriguez, the more experienced utility man. But Hanson, the No. 6 second-base prospect, could change the club's mind this spring.
LHP Steven Brault, RHP Chad Kuhl, RHP Trevor Williams: They all figure to open the year in the Triple-A rotation. The Pirates' young pitching depth (including Casey Sadler, Brandon Cumpton, Nick Kingham and Taillon) has been ravaged by injuries, but these three offer a promising alternative.
OF Willy Garcia: The 23-year-old made the jump to Triple-A last season, but he's currently blocked by the Pirates' outfield trio. If anything, that affords Garcia more time to refine his game in Indianapolis, waiting for a big league opportunity.
INF Max Moroff: The Pirates added the versatile defender to their 40-man roster before the Rule 5 Draft because they thought another club might roll with Moroff as a utility infielder. He'll open the year in Triple-A but should get plenty of work around the infield this spring.
OF Harold Ramirez: The 21-year-old is on the 40-man roster but a long way from the Majors. Still, he and Austin Meadows -- both seemingly set for Double-A this year -- look like the future of the Pirates' outfield.
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.