Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: 2024 Midseason Top 30 Update


The Pirates’ first half will be remembered for the arrival of rotation cornerstones Paul Skenes and Jared Jones. Both are massive wins for Pittsburgh’s farm system and pitching program. Skenes was the top pick in the draft a year ago and is favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, while Jones represents a true player development success story and is one of the better starters in the National League so far this season.

Now the top of the Pirates system turns the page and is in a bit of transition. Pittsburgh graduated Skenes, Jared Jones, Quinn Priester and Nick Gonzales from its Preseason Top 10 Prospects. There’s a cavalcade of arms trailing the wake left behind by Skenes and Jones. In addition to righthander Bubba Chandler, righty Braxton Ashcraft has taken a significant step forward in 2024. Risers such as righthander Patrick Reilly continue to pop up at the lower levels.

It’s been a more uneven start to the year on the hitting side. Third baseman Charles McAdoo is a breakout player, but Pittsburgh doesn’t presently have many impactful hitters in the upper minors. Termarr Johnson’s early struggles were a concern, as well. He has shown a surprising amount of swing and miss and fell out of the Top 100, although he did hit .266 with four homers in June and received a spot in the Futures Game. 

Baseball America subscribers can see the full updated Pirates Top 30 here. Notable risers, fallers, new additions and injury updates are below.

Notable Risers 

Braxton Ashcraft, RHP

Ashcraft is flourishing without any restrictions following his return from Tommy John surgery. The 6-foot-5 righty sits at 95 mph with his fastball and touches 98. His secondaries have also taken a step forward. The Pirates challenged Ashcraft to find a more consistent shape for his upper-80s slider, and he has elicited whiffs more than 40% of the time with each of his breaking balls. The next step is honing his changeup—which he mostly shelved in shorter outings in 2023—and better controlling the running game with Triple-A Indianapolis. Ashcraft could find himself in Pittsburgh’s rotation by the end of the season.

Patrick Reilly, RHP

Few question Reilly’s stuff, although plenty are more skeptical about his strike-throwing. So far, Reilly’s command has held up after moving to a starting role in 2024. The Pirates implored the powerful righty to trust his stuff in the strike zone with more regularity, and he responded with a 30% strikeout rate through his first 66.1 innings for High-A Greensboro. His 93-95 mph fastball touches 97 plays at the top of the zone with more than 20 inches of induced vertical break. Hitters aren’t having much success against his upper-80s cutter, mid-80s slider or splitter, either. Reilly pitches exclusively out of the stretch and is still walking 12.5% of batters, but the combination of stuff and improved command has him trending in the right direction. 

Charles McAdoo, OF

In a season where several of the system’s top bats have struggled, McAdoo stands out as a success story. He showed an intriguing mix of contact ability, power and solid swing decisions while ambushing High-A pitching with Greensboro. McAdoo carried that hot hitting over to his Double-A debut, homering three times in his first eight games. 

Notable Fallers

Anthony Solometo, LHP

Solometo only falls four spots, but keep in mind the Pirates also graduated four players from their top 10. The lanky lefty had a concerning first half. He walked nearly as many batters (21) as he struck out (24) through 33 innings with Double-A Altoona before the Pirates placed him on the development list in mid-June with hopes of getting his delivery back on track. Solometo’s four-seamer averaged just 88-89 mph after previously sitting in the low 90s in 2023. The Pirates attributed the velocity decline to wayward sequencing of mechanics. 

The 21-year-old still has the makings of a plus slider and earns rave reviews for his makeup. It’s rare to have a conversation about Solometo where Madison Bumgarner’s delivery isn’t invoked as a comparison, and it’s worth noting Bumgarner also experienced a bout of fluctuating velocity as he climbed the ladder with the Giants. Solometo’s struggles underscore the unique challenges associated with his complex delivery and his smaller margin for error given a lack of overpowering stuff.

Jun Seok-Shim, RHP

The injury concerns continue for Shim, who was Pittsburgh’s top international signing in 2023. An elbow injury ended his 2021 season and a pectoral injury limited him to just eight Florida Complex League innings last year. This season, Shim suffered a shoulder injury while rehabbing from the pectoral injury and was placed on the 60-day injured list in April. He was electric in his brief cameo last year, and the Pirates are hopeful Shim returns to game action before the end of the 2024 season, but durability remains an open question.

Notable New Additions

10. Charles McAdoo, 3B/OF

BA Grade/Risks: 45/High

Track Record: McAdoo enjoyed a productive three-year college career in the Mountain West Conference with San Jose State, even going 2-for-4 with a double against future Pirates No. 1 overall pick Paul Skenes when the righthander was still at Air Force in 2022. The Pirates drafted McAdoo to far less fanfare in 2023 and signed him to a $150,000 bonus in the 13th round. He has exceeded expectations. McAdoo hit .332 with 11 homers for Low-A Bradenton that year, then barnstormed High-A pitching to open 2024, slashing .336/.415/.561 with nine homers for Greensboro before a midseason promotion to Double-A Altoona. McAdoo is a distant cousin of NBA Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo. 

Scouting Report: McAdoo greets pitchers with a closed stance and healthy bat waggle. He’s a bit less upright since entering pro ball and has shown more feel for contact and adjustability than perhaps previously expected. So far in 2024, the physically strong McAdoo has shown a good blend of contact ability, pitch recognition and swing decisions to go along with above-average 90th percentile exit velocity and bat speed. Finding a long-term defensive home is still more of an open-ended question. A second baseman in college, McAdoo has played mostly third base so far in 2024. His hands have impressed the Pirates, but he has just an average arm and mobility, leading some to wonder whether he’s better suited for a corner outfield position. 

The Future: A productive bat quickly propelled McAdoo to the upper minors and onto the Pirates’ radar. Now, he must sustain his gains away from hitter-friendly Greensboro and solidify his defensive home as he chases the ceiling of a second-division regular. 

Scouting Grades: Hitting: 50 | Power: 50 | Speed: 45 | Fielding: 45 | Arm: 45

18. Omar Alfonzo, C

BA Grade/Risks: 45/High

Track Record: The Pirates signed Alfonzo out of Venezuela in 2019 on the strength of his offensive-oriented skill set and strong bloodlines. His father, Eliezer, caught parts of six seasons in the big leagues and his brother, also named Eliezer, is a 24-year-old catcher in the Tigers system. Alfonzo ended 2023 with Low-A Bradenton and returned to the level to start the 2024 season, hitting .262/.379/.374 over the first 62 games of the season. 

Scouting Report: Alfonzo, who turns 21 in August, is a big, thickly-built lefthanded catcher who has shown good feel for contact and some emerging power this season. Alfonzo has a solid understanding of the strike zone and is fairly selective—perhaps sometimes even too patient. His 90th percentile exit velocity so far in 2024 is already one of the better marks in Pittsburgh’s system, although he’s still learning to elevate and pull to better actualize his raw strength in games. Defensively, Alfonzo has an average arm and has thrown out 34% of base-stealers through June. His receiving needs work, but he earned strong internal reviews for work with Bradenton’s pitching staff this year. 

The Future: Alfonzo has a long way to go and will need to stay on top of his defensive actions as he matures, but his contact ability provides the foundation for a backup catcher ceiling and the potential for more if he learns to tap into his power more consistently. 

Scouting Grades: Hitting: 50 | Power: 45 | Speed: 30 | Fielding: 45 | Arm: 45

20. Luis Peralta, LHP

BA Grade/Risks: 45/High

Track Record: The younger brother of Brewers righthander Freddy Peralta, Luis signed with the Pirates out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. He has long had a tantalizing fastball but struggled with strike-throwing and didn’t reach full-season ball until 2022. The Pirates felt Peralta could better leverage his fastball and reach the big leagues faster by shifting to a bullpen role. So far, that decision looks prescient. Peralta struck out 50 batters over his first 30 innings while yielding just two earned runs and earned a promotion to Double-A Altoona. 

Scouting Report: The 23-year-old overwhelmed High-A hitters with a 94-96 mph heater that has good ride/run and gets whiffs at the top of the zone. He’s thrown it nearly 75% of the time so far in 2024 while landing the pitch for strikes nearly two-thirds of the time. Peralta’s ability to corral his low-80s breaking ball will dictate his future success and help avoid becoming a one-trick pitcher in the upper levels. It features roughly 8-10 inches of horizontal break, generates plenty of whiffs and can dive at the back foot of righthanded hitters. Still, he struggles to land it in the zone, even after taking a step forward in 2024. 

The Future: Peralta has the ceiling of a high-leverage lefthanded bullpen arm if he can better master his secondaries. 

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45

23. Wilber Dotel, RHP

BA Grade/Risks: 40/High

Track Record: Dotel signed late in the 2020 international signing process as an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic. He spent all of last season with Low-A Bradenton, posting a 3.09 ERA over 78.2 innings. Dotel has pitched in High-A Greensboro’s rotation in 2024 and is missing more bats, even if his surface-level stats (5.19 ERA through 59 innings) look less impressive. 

Scouting Report: The 6-foot-3, 223-pound righthander attacks hitters with a 95 mph fastball that has scraped triple digits in 2024. Hitters miss it more than a quarter of the time. He also mixes in a 92-94 mph two-seam variation with considerably more armside run when he needs to steal a strike. Dotel has overhauled his breaking ball, ditching a low-80s slurve in exchange for a much harder upper-80s slider that is his best swing-and-miss offering and has solidly above-average potential. He doesn’t yet trust his firm upper-80s changeup for consistent strikes, which is clearly his third-best offering right now. Dotel has added power, but he’s still learning how to better sequence his arsenal and put hitters away. 

The Future: From signing late in the international process as older teenagers to their pitch mix and burgeoning power, there are a lot of similarities between Dotel and Pirates righty Luis Ortiz at this stage in his development. Like Ortiz, Dotel could one day settle into a big league bullpen with a chance to become a back-of-the-rotation starter if he can miss enough bats to turn lineups over. 

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45

26. Yordany De Los Santos, SS 

BA Grade/Risks: 45/Extreme

Track Record: De Los Santos inked a $1.2 million bonus as part of Pittsburgh’s 2022 international class. He made his stateside debut last year, and the Pirates aggressively pushed him to Low-A Bradenton in July. De Los Santos did not fare well, however, hitting .184 with 60 strikeouts in 38 games. He returned to the rookie-level Florida Complex League in 2024 and looks more comfortable, hitting .328/.392/.485 with three homers and 15 steals through 38 games with a 20% strikeout rate. 

Scouting Report: De Los Santos has a mix of intriguing ingredients, even if considerable polish will soon be necessary. The bat-to-ball skills he showed dating back to his amateur days remain intact, and the 19-year-old is showing better bat speed and higher exit velocities in 2024, allowing for average power potential as he continues to grow into his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame. At some point, though, De Los Santos will have to make better swing decisions. He chased outside the strike zone more than 40% of the time through 37 games in the complex league. He’s also a heady defender who should continue to stick at shortstop as he climbs the ladder unless he’s bumped off the position by a better defender. 

The Future: De Los Santos’ physical tools, feel for contact and improving impact provide a high ceiling, although he’ll need to develop a stronger approach as he readies for a second crack at full-season ball and more advanced pitching. 

Scouting Grades: Hiting: 45 | Power: 50 | Speed: 50 | Fielding: 50 | Arm: 50

30. Tony Blanco Jr., 1B

BA Grade/Risks: 45/Extreme

Track Record: The son of former big leaguer Tony Blanco, Blanco Jr. was born in Boston and raised in the Dominican Republic. He signed for $900,000 in 2022 and spent two years in the Dominican Summer League. Blanco Jr. made his stateside debut in 2024, hitting .321/.391/.543 with four homers and a 29.3% strikeout rate through 25 games in the Florida Complex League. 

Scouting Report: Blanco only turned 19 in May, yet the 6-foot-6, 283-pound behemoth already has double-plus raw power. His 112.3 mph 90th percentile exit velocity was the highest of any minor league hitter with at least 50 plate appearances through the end of June. Blanco has wicked bat speed and is capable of launching balls to any part of the park with relative ease, and there’s reason to believe he could even get a bit stronger. With Blanco’s titanic power comes considerable swing and miss, especially in zone, although he has made some strides in his approach compared to 2023. Blanco was signed as an outfielder, but has already moved to the dirt and split time between first base and designated hitter so far this year. 

The Future: Blanco’s contact questions and defensive profile create a tricky path up the ladder. He has the kind of power, though, to at least entertain a ceiling as a hulking, mashing first baseman one day. His early performance in the complex league is an encouraging sign. 

Scouting Grades: Hitting: 40 | Power: 70 | Speed: 30 | Fielding: 45 | Arm: 50

Significant Injuries 

Mike Burrows, RHP

Burrows is out on rehab assignment as of late June as he returns from April 2023 Tommy John surgery. 

Estuar Suero, OF

Suero missed five weeks of action with a hamate injury in May. He returned for one game on June 25, but then went back to the IL. 

Jun-Seok Shim, RHP

A pectoral injury prematurely ended Shim’s 2023 season, and an ensuing shoulder injury suffered this spring during his recovery now threatens his 2024 season. 

Garret Forrester, C/3B

Forrester was in the early days of a conversion to catching before being placed on the IL in mid May. He has yet to return as of early July. 

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