2014 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 10 Prospects


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TOP 10 PROSPECTS
1. Gregory Polanco, of
2. Jameson Taillon, rhp
3. Tyler Glasnow, rhp
4. Austin Meadows, of
5. Nick Kingham, rhp
6. Alen Hanson, ss
7. Josh Bell, of
8. Reese McGuire, c
9. Harold Ramirez, of
10. Luis Heredia, rhp
BEST TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Gregory Polanco
Best Power Hitter Andrew Lambo
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Austin Meadows
Fastest Baserunner Gregory Polanco
Best Athlete Gregory Polanco
Best Fastball Tyler Glasnow
Best Curveball Jameson Taillon
Best Slider Stolmy Pimentel
Best Changeup Nick Kingham
Best Control Nick Kingham
Best Defensive Catcher Reese McGuire
Best Defensive Infielder Gift Ngoepe
Best Infield Arm Edwin Espinal
Best Defensive Outfielder Gregory Polanco
Best Outfield Arm Willy Garcia
TOP 15 PLAYERS 25 AND UNDER
No Player, Pos (Age) Peak Level
1. Gerrit Cole, rhp (23) Majors
2. Gregory Polanco, of (22) Triple-A
3. Starling Marte, of (25) Majors
4. Jameson Taillon, rhp (22) Triple-A
5. Tyler Glasnow, rhp (20) Low Class A
6. Austin Meadows, of (18) Short-season
7. Nick Kingham, rhp (22) Double-A
8. Alen Hanson, ss (21) Double-A
9. Josh Bell, of (21) Low Class A
10. Reese McGuire, c (19) Short-season
11. Harold Ramirez, of (19) Short-season
12. Luis Heredia, rhp (19) Low Class A
13. Tony Sanchez, c (25) Majors
14. Wyatt Mathisen, c (20) Short-season
15. Barrett Barnes, of (22) Low Class A
TOP DRAFT PICKS OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org.
2004 Neil Walker, c Pirates
2005 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2006 Brad Lincoln, rhp Blue Jays
2007 Daniel Moskos, lhp White Sox
2008 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Pirates
2009 Tony Sanchez, c Pirates
2010 Jameson Taillon, rhp Pirates
2011 Gerrit Cole, rhp Pirates
2012 Mark Appel, rhp *Astros
2013 Austin Meadows, of Pirates
*Did not sign
TOP PROSPECTS OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org.
2004 John Van Benschoten, rhp Out of baseball
2005 Zach Duke, lhp Reds
2006 Neil Walker, c Pirates
2007 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2008 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2009 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Pirates
2010 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Pirates
2011 Jameson Taillon, rhp Pirates
2012 Gerrit Cole, rhp Pirates
2013 Gerrit Cole, rhp Pirates
LARGEST BONUSES IN CLUB HISTORY
Gerrit Cole, 2011 $8,000,000
Jameson Taillon, 2010 $6,500,000
Pedro Alvarez, 2008 $6,000,000
Josh Bell, 2011 $4,000,000
Bryan Bullington, 2001 $2,400,000
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Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects

Neal Huntington never put a timetable on how long it would take to make the Pirates competitive when he replaced Dave Littlefield as Pirates general manager late in the 2007 season.

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However, Huntington said he had a definitive plan for what it would take to transform the once-proud franchise back to its winning ways: build through scouting and player development. He also vowed he would not deviate from that plan, even if quick fixes might appease the fans and media, and perhaps even save his job.

The commitment to that plan finally paid off in 2013 as the Pirates not only broke a string of 20 consecutive losing seasons, which is the record for major North American professional team sports, but also reached the postseason for the first time since 1992. The Pirates went 94-68, beat the Reds in the Wild Card Game at a raucous PNC Park, then took the eventual pennant-winning Cardinals a full five games before falling in the National League Division Series.

The Pirates won with a roster primarily filled with players Huntington acquired from outside the organization or those drafted or signed as international free agents during Littlefield’s tenure.

However, four of Huntington’s draft picks made significant contributions: third baseman Pedro Alvarez (No. 2 overall, 2008), righthander Gerrit Cole (No. 1 overall, 2011), shortstop Jordy Mercer (third round, ’08) and lefthanded reliever Justin Wilson (fifth, ’08). Alvarez hit 36 home runs to tie for the NL lead with Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, Cole was the NL rookie pitcher of the month in September, Mercer posted a .772 OPS as a part-time starter, and Wilson had a 2.08 ERA in 58 games and 74 innings.

The Pirates are positioned to compete for a number of years. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen, the franchise’s best player, is 27 and signed through 2018. Alvarez and second baseman Neil Walker are under club control through 2017, and left fielder Starling Marte is not eligible for free agency until following the 2019 season.

While owner Bob Nutting often has been criticized for being a spendthrift, he was willing to give Huntington the money necessary to routinely go over slot to sign draft picks and also to become a bigger player in Latin America. Nutting has started to see the payoff with the performances of Alvarez and Cole, and there should be more soon. Top prospects such as outfielder Gregory Polanco and righthanders Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham appear close to big league-ready.

The Pirates also have a wave of talent at the lower levels, such as outfielders Josh Bell and Harold Ramirez and righthander Luis Heredia. And after failing to sign their first-rounder in 2012, they had two selections among the first 14 picks in 2013 and landed a pair of blue-chip high school players in outfielder Austin Meadows and catcher Reese McGuire. Justifiably, the Pirates believe their farm system ranks with anyone’s in the game.

Huntington inherited one of the least-talented organizations in baseball. The Pirates lacked quality players at the major league level and also had a weak farm system. He took on a major rebuilding job, and Nutting showed a great amount of patience in his GM as he allowed Huntington to survive a 105-loss season in 2010, his third full year on the job.

However, despite having his skeptics in the fan base and media, Huntington proved his plan was the right one to return the Pirates to respectability and beyond.