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Track Record: Hayes, the son of 14-year big league third baseman Charlie Hayes, has been arguably the most consistent position player in the Pirates' system the last two seasons. After missing most of 2016 with a cracked rib, he was an all-star at high Class A Bradenton in 2017 and at Double-A Altoona in 2018. Scouting Report: Hayes has excellent hands and a slow heartbeat at third base, which makes him one of the best gloves in the minors. He isn't fazed by big swings or scorched grounders, and he has an excellent feel for how to read angles off the bat. He has a plus arm and makes steady, accurate throws with plenty of backspin carry across the diamond. Hayes has a short, compact swing with excellent plate discipline. Even through his home run figures are still modest--the seven he hit in 2018 were a career high--he's getting more carry into the gaps. He finished with 45 extra-base hits in 2018, with 31 doubles nearly doubling his previous career high. He isn't a blazer, but he did steal 27 bases in 2017 and 12 in 2018. The Pirates want him to add weight and strength, which could slow him down a tick. The Future: Hayes will head to Triple-A Indianapolis and isn't far from being Pittsburgh's third baseman.
Track Record: Keller's velocity spiked about 10 mph between his junior and senior years of high school, and the mid-90s fastball he displayed at showcase events instantly made him a major prospect. A second-round pick, he was committed to North Carolina but was lured into pro ball by the Pirates' $1 million bonus offer. He made the high Class A Florida State League all-star team in 2017 before being promoted to Double-A Altoona in August of that year. He began 2018 with the Curve and was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis after allowing just four runs in five starts from May 31-June 25. He also drew the start for the U.S. in the Futures Game. Keller wasn't as consistent at Triple-A, giving up eight runs in 2.2 innings in his first start and finishing the season with a 4.82 ERA. Scouting Report: Keller's fastball and curveball are the best in the Pirates' system. He has put muscle on a rangy frame and sits 94-96 mph without a lot of exertion. When he rears back, he can reach 99 mph. He can locate to all four quadrants with late life, tilt and armside run. His plus curveball takes an 11-to-5 shape with hard downward bite. He's struggled for years to perfect his changeup. It doesn't have the velocity differential that the Pirates were hoping for, but it does have enough sink to it that it works as an average groundball pitch. Part of Keller's struggles in 2018 came because of mechanical problems on the backside of his delivery that led to his pitches coming out of his hand flat. He focused on eliminating those problems late in the season but still had the worst season of his career in terms of command. He walked a career-high 55 batters, and Triple-A batters hit .280 off him, evidence that he was missing too much in the middle of the plate. The Future: Keller will begin the 2019 season in Indianapolis and have to prove he can consistently dominate before the Pirates consider calling him up to the majors. His long-term future is as a top-to-middle of the rotation arm, most likely as a No. 2 or 3 starter, and the Pirates will likely want to see him make a big league start in September if not sooner. Keller's development is vital to the Pirates success in upcoming years.
Track Record: When the Dodgers signed Cruz, he was already tall and strong. But he has grown another two inches since signing. The Pirates were thrilled to acquire him in the 2017 trade that sent reliever Tony Watson to the Dodgers. In 2018, Cruz showed he could harness his potential by hitting .286/.343/.488 at low Class A West Virginia. Scouting Report: Cruz made massive improvements in his return to low Class A. He slashed his strikeout rate to 22.6 percent while getting to his power more regularly, largely because he showed a much better concept of what pitch he was looking for and cut down on chases out of the zone. His height and long levers mean he has a big strike zone, but Cruz has near top-of-the-scale raw power to go with excellent athleticism. He has a plus-plus arm and surprising speed. There has never been a 6-foot-6 major league shortstop, and Cruz likely won't change that, but he showed improvement in his ability to chop his feet and get down to grounders. He projects as an above-average defender at third base or right field with 20 homer-20 steal potential. The Future: Cruz is ready for high Class A Bradenton. He's a risky prospect, but one with all-star potential.
Track Record: The Pirates coaxed Tucker out of a commitment to Arizona by taking him in the first round in 2014. Labrum surgery ended his 2015 season and cost him time in 2016. In 2017 he suffered a thumb injury and a hand fracture but had his best pro season, stealing 47 bases and slugging .408 combined at high Class A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona. He struggled early in 2018 but a solid July got him back on track. He finished with 33 extra-base hits and 35 stolen bases, then played well in the Arizona Fall League. Scouting Report: Tucker has a wiry frame with long levers, and with that much body to control, he can get out of sync at times. He was off balance in the batter's box for most of 2018 and didn't seem to even out until the end of the season. Still, he has some gap-to-gap power, and his plus speed with long strides makes him a constant threat to steal bases. Defensively, he's a fluid athlete with above-average range and an above-average arm, making him a prototype shortstop. The Future: Tucker will begin 2019 at Triple-A Indianapolis. He should compete with Kevin Newman to be the Pirates' everyday shortstop in 2020 or shortly thereafter.
Track Record: Bolton dominated at Tracy High, going 24-6, 1.42 and 201 strikeouts against 65 walks in three years as a starter. The Pirates took him in the sixth round in 2017, and like most of their high school starters, he spent his first summer in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and his first spring in extended spring training. However, he performed so well there that the Pirates moved him past short-season ball and directly to low Class A West Virginia in late May. Scouting Report: In his first three South Atlantic League starts, Bolton pitched 15.1 scoreless innings, striking out 19 batters and walking just four. His fastball is a plus pitch. He can hit 95 mph with it and get swings and misses at both the top and the bottom of the zone. He can go up in the zone with ride and down in the zone with sink and armside run. He also has good command of a tight slider and a changeup up that sits in the low 80s. The Future: Bolton has made just nine starts in low Class A, so he likely will return there in 2019. He should reach high Class A Bradenton at some point.
Priester stands out for being a 6-foot-3 prep righthander who has excellent physical projection and advanced strike-throwing capabilities. He has good arm action from a three-quarter arm slot and an easy delivery. Although his delivery lacks flaws, scouts have questioned the quickness of his movements throughout the motion. His fastball sits in the low 90s with good life, but he has topped out at 96 mph this spring. His main secondary offering is a curveball that has good shape and flashes future plus potential. His third pitch is a changeup that lags behind his curveball. Priester hasn’t received much formal pitching instruction to this point, which makes him exceptionally intriguing considering his success and also speaks to his high aptitude for the game. He self-taught himself some of the mechanical details of the game by watching YouTube videos of pitchers he admired and wanted to emulate. While prep arms always have risk associated with them, Priester has the ingredients of a starting pitcher with big upside and has received enough helium this spring to perhaps land in the first round. Priester is committed to Texas Christian.
Track Record: Swaggerty went undrafted after earning all-state honors at Denham Springs High in Louisiana. He initially went to South Alabama as a two-way player but focused on the outfield and put on muscle to add power to his athleticism. He hit 27 home runs and stole 48 bases at South Alabama. He got a little power-hungry as a junior as he struggled more at the plate, but the Pirates still believed in his bat, picking him 10th overall in 2018. Scouting Report: Swaggerty is a well-rounded player with potentially no below-average tool if he can improve his hitting. At his best, he shows patience and a short, controlled swing with power thanks to buggy whip in his swing. His quest for power has gotten him into bad habits at times. Swaggerty should stay in center field as an above-average defender. He has plus speed to get to balls in the gap and the above-average arm strength to make throws from center even when he's off balance. The Future: The Pirates generally take their time moving players up the ladder, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see Swaggerty head to low Class A Greensboro to start the 2019 season, but he shouldn't finish there as an experienced college star.
Track Record: In Kramer's first two years in the Pirates' system, he developed a reputation as a reliable singles and doubles hitter. After hitting 29 doubles in 2016, he began focusing on hitting more fly balls in a 2017 season shortened by a fractured hand. That switch paid off at Triple-A Indianapolis in 2018 as he reached career highs in both home runs (15) and doubles (35). That earned him a September callup, where he registered five hits but also struck out 20 times in 37 at-bats. Scouting Report: Kramer allowed his swing to get bigger with a little more of an uppercut so he could take advantage of added muscle and power. He has accepted more strikeouts and sacrificed what was an above-average hit tool to have average power potential. It's a concession that should pay off for a bat-first second baseman. Defensively, Kramer has good hands but fringy range at second base. His fringe-average arm also limited him in stints at shortstop and third base. Future: The Pirates would like to keep Kramer in Indianapolis for more seasoning when the season starts. He's on the 40-man roster and should see plenty of big league time in 2019.
The younger brother of highly touted 2018 draft prospect Mike Siani (who signed with the Reds for $2 million as the 109th overall pick), Sammy is a talented draft prospect in his own right, albeit in a different way from his brother. While Mike stood out because of his raw tools, Sammy has impressed scouts thanks to a simple and efficient lefthanded swing that gives him a better chance to hit for a high average than his brother. He has a small leg kick, but quiet hands in his load, with a slight uppercut path and a long one-handed finish. Sammy’s swing is looser and involves more hands than Mike’s, and while he’s listed at just 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, evaluators have been impressed with Sammy’s extra-base power and think he has enough hitting ability to get to average power in the future. While he’s not a true burner like his older brother, the younger Siani is a plus runner who can handle center field. In fact, he was voted by scouting directors as one of the three best defensive outfielders in this year’s high school class. He has below-average arm strength but takes good routes in the outfield, and he is a better runner underway than out of the batter’s box from home to first. A Duke commit, Siani could wind up being drafted higher than his brother, although Mike got paid well over the slot value for where he was selected.
Track Record: Escobar signed for $150,000 when he was a 17-year-old, 155-pound third baseman, but he showed enough strength in his arm that the Pirates decided he had a much brighter future standing on the mound. They brought him along slowly and he didn't pitch a full minor league season until 2017 when he struck out 168 batters in 131.2 innings at low Class A West Virginia. He was added to the 40-man roster before the 2018 season. His stats weren't as impressive in 2018, but good enough to move from high Class A Bradenton to Double-A Altoona and he did hold Double-A hitters to a .227 average. Scouting Report: Escobar is still evolving into a pitcher. He has the velocity with a four-seamer that generally sits in the 93-95 mile per hour range but can hit 97 when he rears back. It has ride up in the zone, and plays well off a sharp 12-6 curveball. He's developing good feel for a changeup as well. However, he still struggles with fastball command, and he's walked 119 batters in the last two seasons, including 21 in 35.2 innings in Altoona. The Future: Escobar stuff still makes him one of the best pitching prospects in the Pirates system, but he won't advance past Double-A until he shows a better handle of it.
Track Record: Craig was an All-American at Wake Forest and considered one of the best power hitters in the nation when the Pirates took him in 2016. He hit 37 home runs and slugged .623 in three years there. It took a while, but that power finally showed up at the professional level for Craig in 2018. Scouting Report: After hitting a combined eight home runs at short-season West Virginia in 2016 and high Class A Bradenton in 2017, Craig took more of an all-or-nothing approach in 2018 with Double-A Altoona. His average (.248) and on-base percentage (.321) hit career lows, his walks dipped and his strikeouts hit a career high, but the power numbers also showed up as he started getting the ball into the air more often. He hit 20 homers and 30 doubles, drove in 102 runs and slugged .448. The Pirates hope to see a little more of a balance between the hit tool and the power tool in 2019, because they were just as enamored with his .347 average at Wake Forest as the home runs. He's yet to show he can have an average hit tool with average power at the same time. However, the power figures provided a needed boost of confidence. Defensively, the former third baseman has settled in at first, and the Pirates are pleased with his footwork and ability to pick up bounced throws. The Future: Josh Bell likely blocks Craig from getting a shot to be a starter in Pittsburgh any time soon, but he will have a good chance to begin 2019 at Triple-A Indianapolis. He needs to show he can hit for average and power if he has a hope of being a big league regular.
Track Record: The Pirates invested $450,000 in Sanchez when they signed him in 2015. He turned 19 in 2018 during his first full season of pro baseball, but he has shown impressive maturity so far. In the Gulf Coast League in 2017, he recorded more walks (21) than strikeouts (19), stole 14 bases and slashed .284/.359/.417. He had a harder time in the South Atlantic League with low Class A West Virginia in 2018, but still kept his strikeout rate low and his stolen base figure high, finishing fourth in the league with 30 steals. Scouting Report: Sanchez's speed will always be a weapon, and his fringe-average hit tool could evolve as he learns how to better handle quality breaking balls. Sanchez can get the barrel on the ball, but the Pirates aren't expecting to see consistent home run power--he has well below-average power. In fact, Sanchez would be better served to try to hit for less power. Right now, he's too pull oriented for a table-setter. He's a plus defender in center field with plus speed. He takes efficient routes and has a better than average arm, especially for his size. The Future: Sanchez will most likely begin 2019 at high Class A Bradenton. With his lack of power, he's going to hit a lot better to have any shot to be an MLB regular or even a solid backup.
Track Record: Mitchell fell into the Pirates' lap in the 2017 draft thanks to a rough start to his senior high school season that dropped him just enough to make him a second-round pick. After a modest debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, Mitchell showed off his power at low Class A West Virginia in 2018. Scouting Report: Mitchell has an advanced and polished hitting approach for a young hitter. Scouts are very confident that he will be a plus hitter. He has a smooth, quick swing, and he can sit back and get the barrel on outside pitches to drive them out the opposite way. His approach is advanced for a 19-year-old, and he has a good feel for the strike zone and what pitches he wants to hit. His speed, however, is below-average, and his defensive abilities are far behind his offensive abilities. He profiles as a corner outfielder whose fringy arm strength makes him most likely a left fielder. The Pirates consider him a vocal leader of the 2017 draft class, and he will be carrying the banner for it heading into his second full professional season. The Future: Mitchell will have to hit to rise, but has the tools to do so. He will open 2019 at high Class A Bradenton.
Track Record: Ashcraft's long levers and athleticism made him a star wide receiver in football-mad Texas, and he caught 37 touchdown passes as a high school junior. He focused on baseball as a senior, though, and struck out 103 batters in 70.1 innings while also hitting .391. He had a scholarship offer to Baylor, his hometown school, but the Pirates lured him away with a $1.825 million bonus. He was a late sign and made just five starts in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Scouting Report: The Pirates are fans of tall, athletic righthanders who can pitch with downhill angle--and Ashcraft fits that bill. His fastball sat in the 80s for much of the spring, but he let loose more in the summer and topped out at 94, sitting around 92 with some arm-side run. He also has an off-speed slider with some drop to it and feel for a change-up that sits in the low-80s. The Future: Ashcraft will almost certainly begin in extended spring training and begin 2019 at either the Rookie-level Bristol or short-season West Virginia. His progress may take some time, but he could develop into a rotation staple.
Track Record: Martin had a track record of hitting in five seasons in the Astros' system, but he was both unprotected and undrafted in the Rule 5 draft after the 2017 season. The Pirates acquired him as part of the trade that sent Gerrit Cole to Houston. Martin had one of the most impressive first halves of any position player in the system, hitting .325/.392/.522 with nine home runs at Double-A Altoona. He struggled after a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis, however, finishing with more strikeouts (52) than hits (45). Scouting Report: Martin has whip in his swing and average power he generates from his lower half, but he also has a significant leg kick, which can leave him vulnerable against breaking balls. His hands work well at the plate, which gives him a chance to be a .270-.280 hitter. He's an above-average runner who has posted double-digit stolen bases in every season of his career. He has enough to have the range to play center field on occasion and be an above-average left fielder. His arm is his one below-average tool. The Future: Martin was added to the 40-man roster in November. He should be battling Reynolds for a backup outfield role in Pittsburgh before long.
Track Record: Argazal has risen steadily through the Pirates' minor league ranks thanks to his ability to get ground outs and avoid walking batters. He has walked just 76 batters in 519.2 innings and has never issued more than 18 walks in a season. Scouting Report: Argazal was on track for his best season as a professional in 2018, throwing six no-hit innings in the season opener with Double-A Altoona and posting a 1.30 ERA and 0.82 WHIP as of May 13. However, a shoulder injury cost him two months, and he ended the season by allowing 10 runs, including five home runs, in three innings in his final start. He has an fringe-average fastball with downhill plane that sits between 90-92 mph, a fringe-average changeup that matches it and an average slider he can use for swings and misses. The Pirates want to see more confidence in his stuff, and believe there is more velocity in his arm than he has shown. Argazal's plus control is vital to his success. The Future: Argazal might need to open at Altoona in 2019 to prove himself before he can move up to Indianapolis.
Track Record: Brubaker had unspectacular numbers at Akron, posting a 3.63 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 89.1 innings as a junior, but the Pirates liked his rangy frame and signed him for below slot money. He was more dominant in the New York-Penn League than he ever was in college, however, posting a 0.94 WHIP and 49 strikeouts against 12 walks in his pro debut. Scouting Report: Brubaker found it more difficult to retire high Class A and Double-A hitters in 2016 and 2017, but he was dominant in his first six starts at Double-A in 2018. He moved up to Triple-A Indianapolis and was the Pirates' most reliable starter there with a 3.10 ERA. The biggest improvement for Brubaker was execution with his fastball. With long limbs, his above-average fastball can touch 96 mph without over-exerting himself, but he was too often missing in the middle of the plate. He was more consistent in dotting the corners in 2018, which produced more strikeouts and soften up the contact some. He also throws an average slider in the upper 80s with a sharp downward break, an average curveball and a fringe-average firm change up that isn't much slower than the fastball but that can produce ground balls. The Future: Brubaker will likely still be in the Triple-A rotation to start 2019 but could get a major league look if he continues to perform. The Pirates added him to their 40-man roster during the offseason.
Track Record: Bae is one of many former Braves signees who found themselves looking for a new team after MLB slapped sanctions on Atlanta for violating rules in regards to international signings. In Bae's case, his 2017 contract with Atlanta was never officially approved. But because he'd spurned the Korean Baseball Organization draft for Atlanta, he was ineligible to sign with a KBO team. He signed with Pittsburgh for $1.2 million in March, but immediately ran into trouble when he was found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. He returned to Korea to deal with the charge, which resulted in a fine, but was back for the Gulf Coast League schedule. Scouting Report: Bae profiles as a light-hitting shortstop with a solid glove. His setup begins with high hands and a coiled load. His swing then spins him towards first-base with the kind of jail-break swing that is popular in Asian baseball. It helps him take advantage of his plus speed, but it also ensures that he rarely drives the ball. His approach is all about making contact. Defensively he should be able to stay at shortstop. The Future: Bae's hitting ability and defense gives him a path to the majors leagues, but without changes in his approach, it's hard to see him being more than a useful utility hitter.
A toosly, high-upside center fielder, Gorski has an intriguing power-speed combination that scouts can dream on, but there are some real questions about the quality of his hit tool. A 6-foot-4, 195-pound righthanded hitter, Gorski has plus raw power and plus running ability, but after hitting .356/.404/.554 during his sophomore season in 2018, he was hitting .279/.385/.516 through his first 52 games this spring. Gorski has walked at a career-high rate, struckout at a career-high rate and also homered more this spring than he did in his first two seasons. His swing has some length to it, and his eye level shifts during a load that features a hand hitch and slight collapse of his back leg. Last summer in the Cape Cod League, Gorski featured a big leg kick that he attempted to quiet down, but he struck out 33 percent of the time in his 23-game stint with Harwich. Despite his speed, Gorski needs work to stick in center field, as scouts label his defense as shaky at the moment. He might fit best in a corner, and he has above-average arm strength that could allow him to fit in either spot.
Track Record: When the Indians signed Thomas, he was a 6-foot-4 Bahamian shortstop who wanted to stay in the dirt. But Cleveland was convinced that his arm was special. After multiple conversations he agreed to sign with the Indians for $200,000 as a pitcher. So far, it's been shown to be a wise move. He missed the start of the Arizona League season with a visa issue, but by the Arizona League he was in fine form again. The Pirates acquired him in November in the trade that sent Jordan Luplow and Max Moroff to Cleveland. Scouting Report: Thomas is on a slow track because he is still very new to pitching, but he has the makings of a durable mid-rotation starter if it all comes together as he has size and athleticism to go with promising stuff. He sits 92-96 mph with a potentially plus fastball. After working with a slurvy slider in 2017, Thomas sharpened it into a tighter pitch with better slider shape in 2018. Thomas delivery is effortful and he needs to improve his below-average control. The Future: Thomas is still figuring out what he's doing on the mound, but he's made impressive strides in velocity, durability and feel for pitching in the past two seasons. It's unlikely he'll be ready for a full-season assignment.
Track Record: Ponce's track has been up and down since the Brewers drafted him in the second round in 2015 and signed him for just over $1.1 million. After a forearm strain derailed his progress in 2016, he bounced back with a strong 2017 and reached Double-A by the end of the year. But he returned to Biloxi in 2018 and the sailing wasn't nearly as smooth, prompting a switch from a starting to relieving. Scouting Report: Ponce has dialed back what once was an upper-90s fastball to achieve better command and now sits 90-93 mph and will touch 95 mph. He pairs his fastball with an average, upper-80s cutter he uses to attack lefthanded hitters. His curveball sometimes is his second-best pitch, and he can throw it more as a "slurve"when needed. Ponce often throws his below-average changeup too firmly, but that pitch won't be as important if he remains a reliever. He throws all of his pitches for strikes and uses his physical size to his advantage, throwing the ball on a downward plane to induce groundball outs, although nothing he throws is plus. The Future: It has become evident that Ponce's future at the top level is probably as a reliever, where he can reach back for more with his fastball and focus on pitching in shorter bursts.
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