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Pittsburgh Pirates' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterJanuary 8, 2017

Pittsburgh Pirates' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

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    Gregory Polanco should be ready to join the Pirates outfield in mid-2014.
    Gregory Polanco should be ready to join the Pirates outfield in mid-2014.Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    With a wave of impact prospects poised to reach the major leagues as early as late 2014 and more high-ceiling talent developing in its lower levels, a strong case can be made that the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system is the best in baseball.

    Even after the graduation of Gerrit Cole to the major leagues last season, the Pirates still boast a deep collection of high-end pitching prospects. It shouldn’t be long until right-hander Jameson Taillon—the second overall pick in the 2010 draft after Bryce Harper—joins Cole in the big league rotation, and Nick Kingham isn’t far behind after a breakout 2013 campaign between High- and Double-A.

    In the lower levels, 6'7" right-hander Tyler Glasnow absolutely dominated last year during his full-season debut, holding opposing hitters to an anemic .142 batting average while piling up a South Atlantic League-leading 164 strikeouts in 111.1 innings for Low-A West Virginia.

    The system also stands out for its outfield depth, with top prospect Gregory Polanco on the verge of reaching the major leagues and taking over as the Pirates’ everyday right fielder. Beyond Polanco, switch-hitter Josh Bell’s potent bat suggests breakout potential and could result in a taste of Double-A late next season, while 2013 first-rounder Austin Meadows and fellow New York-Penn League standout Harold Ramirez will both make their full-season debuts at Low-A West Virginia.

    Here’s a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top 10 prospects for the 2014 season.

10. Luis Heredia, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 08/10/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’6”, 205 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: 2010 (Mexico)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

      

    Scouting Report

    A large, physical right-hander at 6’6”, 205 pounds; will have to work hard to stay in shape; massive frame involves minimal projection; fastball velocity was down last season in the 88-92 mph range; touched 94-95 mph on occasion; utilizes his height by throwing the pitch on a steep downhill plane that usually results in weak contact; curveball is still raw and lacks overall consistency; will require considerable refinement at higher levels; changeup is advanced for his age and features late fade; effective offering against left-handed batters; slider is present but seldom used and largely inconsistent; good pitchability; control/command took a step back in 2013.

    Projection: No. 3 or 4 starter

    Risk: High

     

    Video courtesy of BullpenBanter.com

9. Harold Ramirez, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 09/06/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 175 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: 2011 (Colombia)

    ETA: 2017

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    The 5’11”, 175-pounder is an excellent athlete with loud tools; already physically strong with plenty of room to add muscle; above-average speed plays on both sides of the ball; instinctual and smart base runner; range is suitable for long-term projection in center field; may lose a step down the line due to thicker lower half; arm strength is slightly below average and ideal for center field; wrists and forearms are loaded with strength; above-average bat speed; present feel for hitting is advanced; highly projectable hit tool; mature approach and plate discipline given lack of experience; present gap pop; will grow into more in-game power. 

    Projection: First-division outfielder

    Risk: Extreme

     

    Video courtesy of BullpenBanter.com

8. Reese McGuire, C

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    Position: C

    DOB: 03/02/1995 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190 lbs

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: First round, 2013 (Kentwood HS, Wash.)

    ETA: 2017

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Sound, balanced swing from the left side; works the ball from line to line thanks to improved barrel control and simplified stride; compact swing with present bat-to-ball ability; keeps upper body and head still throughout weight transfer and contact; hits the ball on the nose and generates plenty of loud contact; pitch recognition has improved as he’s become more comfortable going the other way.

    Average power potential; generates lots of strength from core and lower half; present gap power; has shown a leveraged swing during batting practice but is capable of more consistent power frequency; rarely sells out during games; the hope is that he at least taps into his pull-side power; could benefit from a more aggressive approach that has him attacking the ball.

    McGuire’s speed can be overshadowed by the other impressive aspects of his game; average-to-above-average runner aided by overall athleticism; gets out of the box and down the line; double-digit stolen base potential; smart baserunner.

    Plus defensive profile behind the plate; outstanding combination of athleticism, tools and baseball IQ will allow him to remain at the position; really quick feet; moves well laterally; outstanding blocker who smothers balls in the dirt with ease; decent receiver with soft hands and promising framing skills; ridiculously fast transfer with consistent sub-1.9-second pop times; present feel for sequencing and game-calling.

    Near-elite arm strength (seriously—the kid has an absolute hose); tremendous natural ability; legitimate weapon who should stymie the running game at every professional level; quick release with excellent accuracy. 

    Projection: First-division catcher

    Risk: High

     

    Video courtesy of BullpenBanter.com

7. Nick Kingham, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 11/08/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 220 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Fourth round, 2010 (Sierra Vista HS, Nev.)

    ETA: Late 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    The 6’5”, 220-pound right-hander’s development picked up steam this past season against advanced hitters; consistent high-three-quarters arm slot; delivery involves minimal effort and he repeats it well; overall delivery has been cleaner since lowering his leg kick; stays in line with the plate; good use of lower half. 

    Fastball is presently his biggest strength; features plus velocity in the 93-96 mph range; will bump 97 on occasion; holds velocity deep into starts; generates late arm-side action; demonstrates feel for pounding the outside corner against both right- and left-handed hitters; will elevate the pitch against same-side hitters.

    Changeup is a present fringe-average offering; pitch has decent depth with late sinking action; thrown with deceptive and convincing arm speed; comfortable using the pitch in any count; velocity of the pitch is inconsistent; typically works in the mid-80s but tends to throw it too firmly; at times it reaches the upper-80s. Curveball serves as another fringe-average offering with plenty of room to improve; consistent tight spin with late bite; above-average potential overall.

    Projection: No. 3 or 4 starter

    Risk: Medium

     

    Video courtesy of Baseball Instinct

6. Josh Bell, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 08/14/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 213 pounds

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2011 (Dallas Jesuit Prep HS, Texas)

    ETA: Late 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Physically strong and projectable switch-hitter at 6’3”, 213 pounds; above-average or better hit tool and power potential; right-handed swing is smooth and geared toward line-drive contact from line to line; showcases plus raw power from left side of the plate with a more leveraged swing; good extension after contact to generate backspin carry; doubles machine; will show more over-the-fence pop moving forward; present feel for the strike zone; understands his strengths as a hitter; average should improve along with secondary pitch recognition; possesses enough athleticism and range for either corner outfield position; above-average arm strength suitable for right field; overall potential tied to hit and power tools.

    Projection: First-division outfielder

    Risk: High

     

    Video courtesy of Mike Newman, ROTOscouting.com

5. Alen Hanson, SS/2B

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    Position: 2B/SS

    DOB: 10/22/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 152 pounds

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Signed: July 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: Mid-2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Switch-hitter has the potential for above-average hit tool; quick bat from both sides; drives the ball from line to line; extra-base machine with average power potential; showcases more consistency and over-the-fence pop from left side; hits the ball on the nose with consistency; handsy swing at times but still barrels the ball; vulnerable to quality off-speed; struggles to keep weight back and will drift with his hips; improved ability to control strike zone this season.

    Plus runner; raw base stealer with shaky instincts; relies on pure speed. Smooth defensive actions; range and arm better suited for second base but will be developed as a shortstop for as long as possible. Sound glove; smooth transfer; arm strength is only average.

    Projection: Second-division regular 

    Risk: High

     

    Video courtesy of Baseball Instinct

4. Austin Meadows, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 05/03/1995 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: First round, 2013 (Grayson HS, Ga.)

    ETA: 2017

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Smooth, balanced left-handed swing; potential above-average-to-plus hit tool; flat path helps keep bat head in the zone for an extended period of time; good plate coverage; already comfortable using the entire field; upright setup; quiet load and weight transfer; doesn’t explode on contact; some stiffness to swing; already recognizes spin; consistent approach with mature plate discipline for his age; will need to get off his back side more efficiently against advanced velocity.

    Bat requires the most projection of all his tools; needs to add strength to athletic frame; flat bat path and easy swing result in more gap shots than over-the-fence pop; natural pop to left-center field; should hit for more power by adding either loft or creating leverage; power frequency stands to improve as he learns to pull more balls.

    Above-average runner; could conceivably lose a step if he adds significant strength to lower half; long strides; more of a glider; instincts help speed play up; provided he doesn’t outgrow the position, Meadows has all the makings of a major league center fielder; bat is a clean fit at the position; highly impressive athlete but lacks physicality; long strides help him cover ground; solid actions and routes at all three outfield positions; arm strength is only potential down tool; strong enough for center field but doesn’t project as favorably at either corner spot; accurate; long, clean arm stroke.

    Projection: First-division regular

    Risk: High

     

    Video courtesy of BullpenBanter.com

3. Tyler Glasnow, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 08/23/1993 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’7”, 195 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: Fifth round, 2011 (Hart HS, Calif.)

    ETA: Late 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    The 6’7”, 195-pound right-hander throws fastball on a steep downhill plane; struggles to keep his lanky frame and long limbs in sync during his delivery; velocity spike last season pushed his fastball into the mid-90s; plenty more velocity on the way; curveball can be a hammer with plus potential but is inconsistent at the moment; doesn’t always stay on top and execute pitch; flashes excellent shape; swing-and-miss potential at highest level; future out pitch; changeup is a work in progress offering; showed improved feel over course of 2013 season; command of entire arsenal took a step forward last year in full-season debut, but there’s still a huge gap between the present and future.

    Projection: No. 2 or 3 starter

    Risk: High

2. Jameson Taillon, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 11/18/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’6”, 235 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2010 (The Woodlands HS, Texas)

    ETA: Late 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    The 6’6” power pitcher has a huge ceiling; long limbs give him exceptional reach; tall, lanky frame; loose arm; can be long and tight on backside; hides ball well overall, though left-handers seem to get a decent look; difficult arm angle; repeatable mechanics; still establishing a feel for delivery; needs to utilize height and work downhill; should improve as he learns to finish with consistency.

    Fastball sits in the middle to high 90s with late movement to the arm side; velocity plays up due to extension; jumps out of his hand and on opposing hitters; curveball is a second plus pitch thrown with velocity and a sharp, two-plane break; made strides with changeup last season; throws it too firmly at times; will be crucial toward overall progress; needs to iron out some minor issues with mechanics and refine his overall command.

    Projection: No. 2 or 3 starter

    Risk: Medium

1. Gregory Polanco, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 09/14/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 170 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Signed: April 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: Late 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Top-flight athlete; projectable 6’4”, 170-pound frame; plenty of room to add strength; has outstanding tools and surprisingly mature secondary skills; left-handed hitter has the potential for an above-average or better hit tool at the highest level; showcases excellent bat speed and bat-to-ball ability; already comfortable driving the ball to all fields; swings to drive the ball but doesn’t sell out for power; bat enters zone at steep angle to generate backspin carry; can overload at times and get long; may be susceptible to premium velocity.

    Plus athleticism, excellent speed and range profile favorably in center field; long strides; rangy; gets good jumps; routes are still improving; may lose a step or two as he fills out; should hit enough even if he’s forced to a corner spot.

    Projection: First-division regular; potential All-Star

    Risk: Low

     

    Video courtesy of Baseball Instinct

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