Midseason Prospect Update: Pirates

The Midseason Top 10 Prospect lists are compiled from conversations with front office officials and scouts from all 30 teams. Players who have exhausted prospect eligibility or were in the Major Leagues as of June 22 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2016 draft and July 2, 2016 signees are also not eligible.

SEE ALSO: Midseason Top 100

The Pirates closed the first half by winning 12 of their final 16 games, a run that included taking five of seven from the National League Central-rival Cardinals and Cubs right before the all-star break.

C Francisco Cervelli
1B Josh Bell
2B Alen Hanson
3B Ke'Bryan Hayes
SS Kevin Newman
LF Austin Meadows
CF Starling Marte
RF Gregory Polanco
No. 1 Starter Gerrit Cole
No. 2 Starter Tyler Glasnow
No. 3 Starter Mitch Keller
No. 4 Starter Jameson Taillon
No. 5 Starter Steven Brault
Closer Yeudy Garcia

If not for a June swoon that included a 9-19 record and 5.31 ERA, the Pirates would be closer than 7 1/2 games behind the Central-leading Cubs at the break. Pittsburgh's struggles are easy to diagnose, however, and potentially easy to address through a combination of player promotions and trades.

The Pirates' pitching staff, owing in part to an injury to ace Gerrit Cole and serious regression from No. 2 Francisco Liriano, ranked last in the NL with 7.1 strikeouts per nine innings and in the bottom-third of the league in WHIP (1.42) and park-adjusted ERA+ (94).

Fortunately, the organization's Triple-A Indianapolis club opened the year with a prospect-studded rotation, and Pittsburgh called on righthanders Jameson Taillon (five starts), Chad Kuhl (three) and Tyler Glasnow (one) as well as lefty Steven Brault (one) to take rotation turns beginning in June. If the Pirates continue to close ground on the Cubs in the second half, the front office could consider trading for a veteran starter, using one or more of the young arms along with prospects from a stocked farm system.

The Pirates' offense won't require the same type of reinforcement. Pittsburgh ranked second in the NL with a .337 on-base percentage and fourth with 4.75 runs per game in the first half, with their only potential trade target being a power threat at first base (John Jaso) or second base (Josh Harrison).

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