2017 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 10 Insider

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Talent Infusion: Draft Report Card

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SEASON IN A SENTENCE: Three years of playoff appearances ended, as injuries, sketchy pitching and an off-year by star Andrew McCutchen dropped the Pirates to their first losing record since 2012.

HIGH POINT: Through the first two months, the Pirates stayed on schedule, with Jeff Locke tossing a three-hit shutout May 30 in a 10-0 win at Miami. The Pirates ended the month 29-22 as emerging star Gregory Polanco homered against the Marlins en route to a 22-homer breakout this season at age 24.

LOW POINT: The Pirates were still in the wild-card hunt in late August when they embarked on a season-long eight-game losing skid. The kickoff came Aug. 29, when the Cubs rallied from a 6-3 deficit with two runs off Neftali Feliz and one off Tony Watson--Mark Melancon's replacement at closer after a July 30 trade--in the ninth. Locke, shifted to the bullpen, gave up the game-losing run in the 13th inning and the Pirates were on their way to a losing streak that took them under .500.

NOTABLE ROOKIES: The No. 2 overall pick in 2010--between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado--rigthander Jameson Taillon finally got healthy and thrived, making 18 starts in Pittsburgh, posting a 3.38 ERA and showed durability, tossing 165 innings overall including the minors. Versatile Adam Frazier broke though in the first half and hit .301, becoming a valuable reserve who could play virtually any position.

KEY TRANSACTIONS: Pittsburgh's free-agent moves worked out fine, from David Freese and John Jaso on the corners to picking up Juan Nicasio, who struggled in the rotation but pitched well in relief, leading the team in strikeouts while ranking second in innings pitched. But trading Neil Walker for Jon Niese proved a lose-lose proposition, and trading Mark Melancon to the Nationals made the bullpen less effective.

DOWN ON THE FARM: Top prospects such as Josh Bell and righthander Tyler Glasnow (23 MLB innings) made their big league debuts, with Glasnow dominating the upper minors with an 8-3, 1.87 mark at Triple-A Indianapolis. The club's 2015 first-round pick Kevin Newman reached Double-A while hitting .320/.389/.426 overall. Newman had started the season at high Class A Bradenton, which won the Florida State League title riding 2014 second-round pick Mitch Keller, who enjoyed a breakthrough season (9-5, 2.35).

OPENING DAY PAYROLL: $103,778,833 (19th)

Best Hitter for Average Kevin Newman
Best Power Hitter Eric Wood
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Austin Meadows
Fastest Baserunner Alen Hanson
Best Athlete Austin Meadows
Best Fastball Taylor Hearn
Best Curveball Mitch Keller
Best Slider Edgar Santana
Best Changeup Brandon Waddell
Best Control Nick Kingham
Best Defensive Catcher Elias Diaz
Best Defensive Infielder Gift Ngoepe
Best Infield Arm Alfredo Reyes
Best Defensive Outfielder Casey Hughston
Best Outfield Arm Willy Garcia
Catcher Elias Diaz
First Base Josh Bell
Second Base Adam Frazier
Third Base Ke'Bryan Hayes
Shortstop Kevin Newman
Left Field Gregory Polanco
Center Field Starling Marte
Right Field Austin Meadows
No. 1 Starter Gerrit Cole
No. 2 Starter Jameson Taillon
No. 3 Starter Mitch Keller
No. 4 Starter Tyler Glasnow
No. 5 Starter Steven Brault
Closer Yeudy Garcia
Year Player, Pos. 2016 Org
2007 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2008 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2009 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Orioles
2010 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Orioles
2011 Jameson Taillon, rhp Pirates
2012 Gerrit Cole, rhp Pirates
2013 Gerrit Cole, rhp Pirates
2014 Gregory Polanco, of Pirates
2015 Tyler Glasnow, rhp Pirates
2016 Tyler Glasnow, rhp Pirates
Year Player, Pos. 2016 Org
2007 Daniel Moskos, lhp Padres
2008 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Orioles
2009 Tony Sanchez, c Giants
2010 Jameson Taillon, rhp Pirates
2011 Gerrit Cole, rhp Pirates
2012 Mark Appel, rhp* Phillies
2013 Austin Meadows, of Pirates
2014 Cole Tucker, ss Pirates
2015 Kevin Newman, ss Pirates
2016 Will Craig, 3b Pirates
*Did not sign
Gerrit Cole, 2011 $8,000,000
Jameson Taillon, 2010 $6,500,000
Pedro Alvarez, 2008 $6,000,000
Josh Bell, 2011 $5,000,000