Here are the Pirates' 2023 Top 30 prospects
Major League teams never want to be picking at or near the top of the Draft. After all, that means things didn’t go well at the big league level the year prior.
The Pirates have picked in the top 10 for the past three years, including having the No. 1 pick in 2021, and their top five reflects that. No. 1 prospect Termarr Johnson was the No. 4 overall pick last year; Henry Davis was that top overall pick in 2021 and he comes in at No. 3 while 2020 first-rounder Nick Gonzales rounds out the top five. (And don’t forget there’s more help on the horizon, with the Pirates having won the inaugural Draft lottery to land this year’s No. 1 pick.).
The objective, of course, is to turn the prospects within what continues to be a pretty robust system into success at the big league level. That young talent has started making it to the big leagues and is pooling up at the upper levels. A full season of former Top 100 guys Oneil Cruz and Roansy Contreras in Pittsburgh should add some excitement. And while the ETAs provided for each player on this year’s Top 30 are far from guaranteed, it’s worth noting that 15 prospects -- half of the list -- could help out in Pittsburgh this season.
There should be plenty of opportunity for this young talent to make an impact, which in turn should help point the Pirates in the right direction. There still might be a ways to go in terms of this club being competitive in the NL Central, but it’s not as far off as some might think.
Here’s a look at the Pirates' top prospects:
1. Termarr Johnson, 2B (MLB No. 26)
2. Endy Rodriguez, C/2B/OF (MLB No. 55)
3. Henry Davis, C (MLB No. 57)
4. Quinn Priester, RHP (MLB No. 60)
5. Nick Gonzales, 2B/SS
Complete Top 30 list »
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2021 preseason list to the 2022 preseason list.
Jump: Luis Ortiz, RHP (2022: NR | 2023: 8)
Ortiz’s velocity has steadily climbed over the past two years and he was touching triple digits during his big league debut last year. That, plus a change in seam orientation, has let his heater play up. Pirates fans should get to see it and his plus slider for extended viewing in Pittsburgh this season.
Fall: Matt Fraizer (2022: 10 | 2022: 23)
It’s been a bit of a roller coaster for Fraizer, who was our biggest jump a year ago after what seemed like a breakout 2021 season. The toolsy outfielder lost his approach at the upper levels in 2022, with a regression in swing mechanics really hurting his ability to impact the ball.
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: 70 -- Termarr Johnson
Power: 60 -- Henry Davis (Termarr Johnson)
Run: 70 -- Ji-Hwan Bae (Lonnie White Jr.)
Arm: 70 -- Henry Davis
Defense: 60 -- Jared Triolo (Lonnie White Jr.)
Fastball: 65 -- Luis Ortiz
Curveball: 60 -- Quinn Priester
Slider: 60 -- Luis Ortiz (Hunter Barco)
Changeup: 60 -- Thomas Harrington
Control: 55 -- Thomas Harrington (Anthony Solometo, Michael Kennedy)
How they were built
Draft: 17 | International: 7 | Trade: 6
Breakdown by ETA
2023: 15 | 2024: 3 | 2025: 9 | 2026: 3
Breakdown by position
C: 2 | 1B: 1 | 2B: 3 | 3B: 2 | SS: 3 | OF: 7 | RHP: 9 | LHP: 3