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 on June 26 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2015 draft are also not eligible.

The Pirates lived up to preseason expectations in the first half, standing toe to toe with other National League powers. Pittsburgh trailed the Cardinals in the Central Division by a handful of games, only because St. Louis posted the majors' best record, but the Bucs virtually matched the records of the Nationals in the East and the Dodgers in the West to position themselves as likely postseason players.

Having played in the Wild Card Game in both 2013 and 2014, winning once and losing once, the Pirates must be gunning for the Central crown in 2015 so they can side-step the one-game playoff. Emerging homegrown ace Gerrit Cole and veteran imports A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano led a strong pitching staff, while the speedy, young outfield of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco helped lead the offense to an above-average rate of runs scored.

Two of the system's top upper-levels pitching prospects might have contributed to the effort in 2015, but righthanders Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham will miss the entire year while rehabbing from injuries. Taillon had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and then had hernia surgery this July before even reaching the big leagues, while Kingham had T.J. surgery of his own this spring.

The Pirates' top rookie in the first half wasn't even in the system a year ago, yet 28-year-old shortstop/third baseman Jung-Ho Kang, the MVP of the Korean major league last year, had out-hit Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison, the club's starters at shortstop and third base.

Most of the system's brightest prospects project to make an impact next year rather than this summer. Righthander Tyler Glasnow could be up near the 2016 all-star break, while first baseman Josh Bell, second baseman Alen Hanson and catcher Elias Diaz could be ready take over at least a share of the big league jobs now held by Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and Francisco Cervelli, respectively.


1. Tyler Glasnow, rhp

An ankle injury that knocked him out for a month beginning in mid-May is the only thing to mar Glasnow's season at Double-A Altoona. The 6-foot-8 righty continues his evolution from effectively wild in 2013 and the first half of 2014 to the wildly effective frontline-starter-in-waiting he is today. A blazing mid-90s fastball and hammer curveball play up to at least plus for Glasnow, now that he has learned to reign in his long limbs during his delivery. He has a chance to hold opponents to a sub-.200 average for the third consecutive season.

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