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TRACK RECORD: Keller is the latest pitcher to top the Pirates' system, joining the likes of Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow. Keller has flashed the pure stuff to be a top-of-therotation starter, though the Pirates haven't gotten those results consistently from the previous group. Keller's chances might be better. He will work with a new big league pitching coach and likely a more updated organizational pitching philosophy, which has held Pirates pitching prospects back in recent years. Keller made his big league debut in 2019 and has already started to abandon the Pirates' penchant for heavy fastball usage. He ran up a 7.13 ERA over 48 innings in his debut, but he put a late emphasis on his slider and curveball and saw an uptick in strikeouts. SCOUTING REPORT: Velocity has been Keller's calling card since hitting 94 mph in the Rookielevel Gulf Coast League out of high school. He has since increased that velocity to sit 94-96 with sink down in the zone and has touched 99. He improved the control and command of his fastball after a mechanical adjustment in 2015 but has seen his control regress the last two seasons. His curveball has long looked like a plus pitch, with sharp 12-to-6 movement that leads to strikeouts and grounders. He added a slider last year, which is quickly looking like a plus offering with a 26.8 percent swinging strike rate. It was his second most-used pitch in the majors and was used more than his curveball in all but three starts at the end of the season. The slider was developed because of issues with Keller's changeup, which flashes average with fade but has largely been inconsistent and ineffective. He has big stuff and throws strikes, but he often gets too much of the plate and struggles with sequencing. THE FUTURE: The Pirates plan for Keller to be a critical part of their rotation, whether their plan is to win now or rebuild. If his slider is as good as it appeared in 2019, then a high strikeout rate should remain. If he can maintain the strikeout and walk rates and fine-tune his command, he should provide the Pirates with a mid- or front-of-therotation starter. He will open 2020 in the majors.
TRACK RECORD: Ke'Bryan's father Charlie Hayes spent 14 years in the majors at third base, including one with the Pirates. Ke'Bryan has been one of the best defenders at the position in the minors since the Pirates drafted him 32nd overall in 2015. His offense has caught up in recent years, capped by a .265 average and a career-high 10 home runs at Triple-A Indianapolis in 2019. SCOUTING REPORT: Hayes' plus-plus defense is his obvious carrying tool. He has multi-Gold Glove potential at third base thanks to smooth hands, quick reaction times, good routes to the ball and a plus arm. He is athletic enough to play shortstop in a pinch as well. Hayes shows plus hitting ability with a smooth, quick swing, natural lift and a patient approach. He has improved his power the last two years after recovering from a cracked rib at the end of 2016, which led to significant weight loss in 2017. Hayes regained the weight and muscle and added more in the process. He lost some speed, but he's still an above-average runner who is smart on the bases and capable of stealing double-digit bags each year. THE FUTURE: Hayes has the foundation of an everyday third baseman with his hitting ability, defense and baserunning tools. His ceiling will depend on how much his power improves.
TRACK RECORD: The Dodgers originally signed Cruz for $950,000 in 2015. The Pirates were interested in Cruz at the time and ended up getting him two years later for Tony Watson at the trade deadline. He broke out with mesmerizing power displays at low Class A West Virginia in 2018 and overcame a right foot fracture to reach Double-A in 2019. SCOUTING REPORT: Cruz has a lot of solid tools to work with and the highest ceiling of anyone in the Pirates' system, though he also is the hardest to project. At 6-foot-7, Cruz is unusually tall for shortstop, though he is a plus runner with surprising dexterity to play the position. Scouts are mixed on whether he will stick at shortstop, with the safer projection being right field with his plus arm strength. Cruz's bat has fueled his rise and will be what determines his future. His hand strength and long levers give him massive raw power that some scouts grade as an 80, though with his long limbs come natural holes in his swing that lead to strikeouts. His approach is inconsistent as well. THE FUTURE: Cruz will likely return to Double-A to start the 2020 season. With the right strides as a hitter, he should be batting in the middle of the Pirates' lineup by 2021.
TRACK RECORD: When D-backs Latin American scouting director Cesar Geronimo first saw Peguero, he was a skinny, 5-foot-10 teenager who managed to hit the ball as hard as any of the bigger players around him. Peguero is still lean, but he's grown at least four inches and added at least 30 pounds since Arizona invested $475,000 in him. He starred at Rookie-level Missoula in his U.S. debut and finished at short-season Hillsboro. The Pirates acquired him and minor league righthander Brennan Malone for Starling Marte after the season. SCOUTING REPORT: Regarded as a premium athlete, Peguero has a strong, wiry build and above-average speed. He has a feel for finding the barrel and regularly generates loud contact. With a body that still has room to fill out, his average power projection could continue to grow. Peguero's approach is aggressive, but he showed signs last year of being more selective. He won over skeptical coaches and evaluators with his improved defense last season, leading many to change their minds about his ability to stick at shortstop. If he does have to move, he could easily fit elsewhere on the infield or even in center field, where his long strides would cover a lot of ground. THE FUTURE: Peguero has a ways to go, but his offensive-minded profile brings to mind a longer and leaner Jean Segura. He should make the jump to full-season ball in 2020.
TRACK RECORD: The Pirates signed Bolton for $300,000 in the sixth round in 2017 and he has since emerged as one of their top pitching prospects thanks to rapid improvements with his velocity and control. He was shut down with forearm soreness at the end of 2018 and received a platelet-rich plasma injection. He stayed healthy in 2019 and reached Double-A Altoona while pitching with an innings limit. SCOUTING REPORT: Bolton sits 93-96 mph and touches 97 with sink on his four-seam fastball. He has worked with his two-seam fastball more in the last year and keeps it down in the zone in the low 90s. Bolton added an aboveaverage, hard cutter in 2019 to pair with his two-seamer and has worked on his average changeup to make it an effective complement to his four-seam fastball. Both secondary pitches need improvement to ensure he can remain in the rotation. He could also benefit from a slower pitch in the low 80s, because everything now is thrown hard. Bolton has had issues keeping the ball in the park, but his command should improve along with his secondary pitches. THE FUTURE: Bolton could move quickly through the system as a power reliever, but his starter upside will keep him in the rotation for now. He should return to Altoona to start 2020.
TRACK RECORD: Thomas trained as a shortstop in the Bahamas before moving to the mound when he turned pro with the Indians. The Pirates traded Jordan Luplow and Max Moroff to Cleveland after the 2018 season in a deal centered around shortstop Erik Gonzalez, but Thomas looks like the biggest talent in the trade. He had minor shoulder injury in spring training, but made slight mechanical changes to clean up his delivery and began throwing harder with better control. He finished eighth in the Rookie-level Appalachian League with 59 strikeouts. SCOUTING REPORT: Thomas saw his fastball go from sitting 92-95 mph at the time of the trade to 95-99 by the end of the 2019. He reached as high as 101 mph. Thomas also worked to improve his control, throwing more strikes with the improved velocity and showing average strike-throwing potential overall. His slider started to look like a potentially above-average, swing-and-miss pitch, though there is room for improvement. His fringe-average changeup will need to improve. THE FUTURE: Thomas' velocity and slider upside give him a path to be a dominant reliever in the majors, but the 20-year-old has plenty of upside in the rotation and should remain in that role going forward. He will head to low Class A Greensboro in 2020 to make his full-season debut.
TRACK RECORD: Priester was one of the top prep pitchers in the 2019 draft and passed up a commitment to Texas Christian after the Pirates drafted him 18th overall and signed him for $3.4 million. He didn't have a pitching coach as an amateur, with a lot of his development self-taught from watching other pitchers on YouTube. He took it upon himself to add strength to his lower half prior to 2019, resulting in added velocity. SCOUTING REPORT: In addition to his high aptitude for the game, Priester has the stuff to be a high-end starter. His four-seam fastball can get up to 97 mph with a smooth delivery from a three-quarters arm slot. He has more command of his four-seamer but more movement on his low-90s two-seamer. Priester's curveball is his best offering at the moment and a future plus pitch. He can both land it for strikes and generate swings and misses thanks to good shape and deception. His changeup is a work in progress, but he has a grip he likes and is gradually getting a better feel for it. His smooth delivery portends future above-average control. THE FUTURE: Priester is advanced enough that he could move up to low Class A Greensboro in 2020. His physicality, stuff and aptitude give him a chance to move quicker than a typical high school pitcher.
TRACK RECORD: Long regarded as one of the top prep arms in the 2019 class, Malone solidified his stock with a strong spring at IMG Academy, where the North Carolina native transferred for his senior year. The D-backs used the third of their seven first-day draft picks on Malone, taking him 33rd overall and signing him for $2.2 million to forgo a North Carolina commitment. The Pirates acquired him with shortstop prospect Liover Peguero for Starling Marte after the season. SCOUTING REPORT: Malone featured perhaps the best combination of present stuff and future projection of any high school pitcher in his class. He has a strong, durable frame and an athletic delivery with a loose, easy arm action. He showed plus fastball velocity consistently throughout the spring, sitting 93 mph while touching the upper 90s. His slider is his best secondary offering, a potential plus pitch with sharp, late break that he throws at the back foot of lefthanded hitters. His curveball and changeup are less consistent, but both project average. Malone has a mature, stoic demeanor on the mound. At times, his command deserts him and he can look more like a thrower than a pitcher. THE FUTURE: Malone has the ingredients to become a power starter, with his upside to be determined by how his command and stuff progress.
TRACK RECORD: The Braves originally agreed to sign Bae for $300,000 late in 2017, but Major League Baseball rejected the deal as part of the punishment handed out for Atlanta's international signing scandal. The Pirates signed him four months later for $1.25 million. Bae was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend in South Korea and served a 30-game suspension during the 2019 season. He returned to low Class A Greensboro in May and won the South Atlantic League batting title with a .323 average. SCOUTING REPORT: Bae is a speedy contact hitter who projects to hit at either the top or bottom of a lineup. He is a slap hitter with power to the gaps, and his 80-grade speed helps him take plenty of extra bases. Bae has yet to homer in 121 career games and doesn't project to ever have much home run power, but he hits enough doubles and triples to post respectable slugging percentages. Bae has the athleticism and range to be an above-average defender at shortstop, though a fringe-average, inaccurate arm raises questions about his ability to stick there. There are obvious makeup concerns after his assault conviction. THE FUTURE: Bae profiles as a future top-of-the-order hitter with speed and on-base ability. His development as a shortstop will be key to watch in 2020.
TRACK RECORD: Siani followed his older brother Mike as a top draft prospect out of Philadelphia's Penn Charter School. The Reds drafted Mike Siani in the fourth round in 2018, and the Pirates made Sammy the 37th overall pick one year later. He signed for $2.15 million to forgo a Duke commitment. SCOUTING REPORT: Siani is a solid all-around player who does nearly everything well. He has an easy swing from the left side with extra-base power that could improve to average home run power. He manages the strike zone and has a knack for getting on base. Siani has some swing-and-miss to his game right now, but he has the tools to hit .270 or better down the road. Siani has plus speed and could stick in center field, but his below-average arm is an issue. The Pirates moved him around to all three outfield spots in his debut to see where he fits best. THE FUTURE: Siani's career could go a number of ways depending on his power and defensive development. Whether he becomes a top-of-the-order center fielder or a power-hitting left fielder, the Pirates believe there is enough of a foundation for him to become an everyday regular.
TRACK RECORD: Swaggerty emerged as a top draft prospect in 2018 after showing promising a power-speed combo at South Alabama, but some scouts had concerns after he hit just .296 playing against mid-major competition. The Pirates drafted Swaggerty 10th overall and signed him for $4.4 million. He showed bits of power and speed at high Class A Bradenton in his first full season, but he underwhelmed with his contact skills. SCOUTING REPORT: Swaggerty flashes average or better tools across the board, but he too often falls into the trap of selling out for power and swings and misses too often. Swaggerty's power is only average, and he is at his best when he tones it down and focuses on making contact. Swaggerty hit just .219 with a 25-percent strikeout rate through June, but he recovered to bat .328 with an 18-percent strikeout rate the rest of the season, showing the bat-to-ball skills the Pirates believe is present when he takes the right approach. Swaggerty is an above-average defensive center fielder with an above-average arm and should stick at the position. He also is a plus runner capable of stealing 20-plus bases a year. THE FUTURE: Swaggerty hasn't lived up to his draft slot, with his contact issues holding him back. He will try to carry his second-half improvement into 2020 with Double-A Altoona.
TRACK RECORD: The Pirates signed Ashcraft for $1.825 million in 2018 to break his commitment to Baylor. It was the third-highest bonus in franchise history for a player drafted after the first round. The young righty struggled to a 5.77 ERA with short-season West Virginia in 2019, but he handled himself well in a college-heavy league. SCOUTING REPORT: Ashcraft is a tall, projectable righthander with loads of athleticism. He was a star wide receiver in high school and touched 95 mph on the mound his senior year. His velocity dipped into the upper 80s after he signed, but he jumped back into the low-to-mid-90s at West Virginia. He has the loose, projectable frame to project to grow into even more velocity. Ashcraft's upper-70s slider is a slurvy offering that has a long way to go, but he shows feel to spin and could make it an average offering as he adds power and shape. He has feel for an average, low-80s changeup. Like many tall pitchers, the 6-foot-5 Ashcraft has struggled with his control at times. His athleticism provides optimism he will grow into average control. THE FUTURE: Ashcraft offers a lot to dream on, but his growth will take time. Low Class A Greensboro is next in 2020.
TRACK RECORD: The Pirates made Burrows their 11th-round pick in 2018 and signed him away from Connecticut for an above-slot $500,000 signing bonus. Burrows quickly established he was more advanced than the typical Northeast prep arm. The Pirates typically send their drafted high school pitchers to the Rookie-level Appalachian League for their first season, but Burrows impressed enough in extended spring training to make the jump to the college-heavy New York-Penn League. SCOUTING REPORT: Burrows saw an increase in his fastball velocity, hitting 93-95 mph more consistently, after being in the low 90s in 2018. His fastball has good sink and he pairs it with a slider that features sharp, late break. Burrows lacked control at times, but his fastball/slider combination was good enough to get him 43 strikeouts in 43.2 innings with short-season West Virginia. He spent the year working on his changeup and developed more of a feel for the pitch throughout the season. There's not a lot of projection left for Burrows' frame, but he might not need it with his current velocity and how well his fastball and slider play off each other. THE FUTURE: Burrows has the makings of a potential back-end starter. He can move closer to that goal in 2020 with improvements to his control and changeup.
TRACK RECORD: There was a time during Mitchell's senior year in high school when he looked like a potential first-round pick. He struggled offensively his senior year, trying to pull the ball too often while adding too much swing-and-miss to his game. So far, that's been the story of his career. SCOUTING REPORT: Mitchell has plus power potential and has shown it at times, including hitting 15 homers in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League in 2019. The power came with a spike in his strikeout rate to nearly 30 percent, while his walk rate dropped to 6.5 percent. Mitchell has the ability to hit to all fields and shows flashes of an advanced, patient approach, but he loses both of them when he tries to hit for power. Mitchell's bat is going to have to be his carrying tool. He's a below-average runner with an average arm, making left field the most likely position. THE FUTURE: Mitchell has drawn comparisons to all-star hitters like Michael Brantley and Garret Anderson but only when he tamps down his approach and focuses on hard contact rather than power. He should go to Double-A in 2020 with the hope he can get the most from his bat away from the FSL.
TRACK RECORD: An unheralded 17th-round pick in 2017, Martin was a big surprise in his pro debut when he set a GCL Pirates record with 11 home runs in 127 at-bats. He struggled in his full-season debut the following year, but rediscovered his power stroke in 2019 and finished tied for fourth in the minors with 35 home runs while seeing time at both Class A levels. That includes a day when he hit walk-off home runs in both ends of a doubleheader. SCOUTING REPORT: Martin is a stout lefthanded masher with plus raw power and a patient approach, but he also strikes out at alarming rates. He can be too selective at times and passes on good pitches early in the count while waiting for a pitch he can crush. This frequently leads to long at-bats and a lot of pitches seen, but also unfavorable counts when he's at the mercy of the pitcher. Martin has worked on being more aggressive earlier in the count but hasn't completely solved the problem. He immediately moved to first base upon being drafted and will be solely reliant on his bat to carry him up the ladder. He's a below-average defender without much speed or athleticism. THE FUTURE: It's easy to dream of Martin hitting 30-plus home runs per year, but he needs time and a lot of work to get there. His approach will be key to watch in 2020.
TRACK RECORD: Mojica celebrated his 16th birthday in 2018 by signing with the Pirates for $390,000. One of the youngest players in his class, Mojica spent most of his first season in the Dominican Summer League as a 16-year-old but was also one of the league's best hitters. Mojica ranked second in the DSL in OPS, ranked fifth in on-base percentage and third in slugging. SCOUTING REPORT: Mojica has the upside to hit in the middle of a lineup. He has a sound swing with a good path through the hitting zone. He shows good plate discipline for his age, walking more than he struck out in his first season. That helped him get on base at a high clip and helped his plus power translate to games. Mojica has a big frame, but as long as he maintains his conditioning and mobility, he has the attributes to stay at third base, where he has good hands and a plus arm. THE FUTURE: Mojica has emerged as the Pirates' prized signing from their 2018 international class with a chance to be an impact bat, albeit with significant risk because of how far he is from the majors. He will make his U.S. debut in 2020, likely in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
TRACK RECORD: After three years in rookie ball, MacGregor finally appeared to make progress with a solid season at low Class A West Virginia in 2018 before having Tommy John surgery late in the year. He missed the entire 2019 season rehabbing from the procedure. SCOUTING REPORT: MacGregor has a tall, skinny frame which provided a lot of moving parts for his delivery when he entered pro ball. He quieted the delivery down after working on an adjustment with pitching coach Joel Hanrahan in 2018. That fix led to better control, along with a velocity increase that saw MacGregor throwing in the low-to-mid-90s prior to surgery. He also added a slider to give himself a sharper breaking ball instead of his loopy curveball. MacGregor saw an increase in strikeouts in 2018, but most of that came from the fastball and wasn't a sign of early success from the new slider. He has a feel for a changeup, giving him the makings of a three-pitch mix needed to project as a starter. THE FUTURE: MacGregor is set to return with high Class A Bradenton in 2020. He'll need to maintain the developments that led to better control and velocity from the fastball, while trying to turn his slider into an out pitch.
TRACK RECORD: Brubaker entered the 2019 season expecting to be one of the Pirates' first callups to the rotation, but injuries got in the way. After opening the year strong at Triple-A Indianapolis, he missed two months with a forearm strain and then was shut down for the year with right elbow irritation after two rehab starts. SCOUTING REPORT: Brubaker has a big, sturdy frame that allows him to eat innings as a starter. He progressively ramped up his fastball velocity to the point it now touches 99 mph. He also added a hard cutter in 2018 that increased his strikeout rate and made him very tough against righthanded hitters. Brubaker has struggled against lefties at times and will need a better changeup to stick as a starter. It currently is a fringe-average pitch that is often too firm. THE FUTURE: Brubaker projects to be healthy for the start of the 2020 season and should enter the season once again as a top depth option. His fastball and cutter could work wonders out of the bullpen and give him a chance to eventually pitch in late relief if needed.
TRACK RECORD: Mears went from an undrafted pitcher signed as an injury replacement to a legitimate relief prospect in the span of a year. The 6-foot-3 righthander added 30 pounds to his frame following the 2018 season and saw his velocity spike. The Pirates moved him all the way up to Double-A in his first full season, then sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where he finished the season with 8.2 shutout innings. SCOUTING REPORT: Mears' added weight led to an increase in velocity. His fastball now sits 96-98 mph most nights and touches as high as 101. Mears likes to throw his fastball high in the zone, and it was the primary pitch that helped him notch 50 strikeouts in 35 innings. His control also improved as the year went on. In the past, Mears has paired his fastball with a slider, which wasn't an effective pitch. He's since been working on a 1-to-7 curveball, aimed at playing off his high fastball with a north-south approach. THE FUTURE: The velocity and control improvements have Mears looking like a potential late-inning reliever. A better breaking pitch could cement his future status in a big league bullpen.
TRACK RECORD: A walk-on turned starter at Arizona, Oliva became the Pirates' seventh-round pick in 2017 following a junior year that saw his offense rapidly improve. He has continued that upward trajectory in pro ball. After emerging as a prospect to watch in his first full season, Oliva moved to Double-A Altoona in 2019 and finished fourth in the Eastern League in hits (124) and second in stolen bases (36). SCOUTING REPORT: Oliva does all the little things well to be a successful hitter. He commands the strike zone, controls the barrel, shortens his swing and puts the ball in play to take advantage of his plus speed. He takes efficient routes in center field with that plus speed and should have no problem sticking there, although his above-average arm will allow him to move around the outfield as needed. Oliva is a contact hitter with below-average game power, but he knows who he is and gets the most from his skill set. THE FUTURE: Oliva profiles as an extra outfielder for most evaluators, but he has made a living out of exceeding expectations. he will head to Triple-A Indianapolis in 2020 with a big league callup in his sights.
TRACK RECORD: Kramer showed advanced hitting ability from the time the Pirates drafted him in the second round out of UCLA, and he generated extra excitement as he began to tap into his raw power in the upper minors. Kramer made his major league debut in 2018 and looked like a part of the club's plans for 2019, but instead he took a step back and spent most of the season at Triple-A Indianapolis. SCOUTING REPORT: At his best, Kramer controls the strike zone and hits for average with a line-drive stroke that drives balls to the gaps. In 2019, however, his power went down and his strikeout numbers went up. He got 42 at-bats in the majors and struck out in 17 of them. Kramer offers some defensive versatility. He profiles best at second base with his smooth glove and above-average range, and he has enough ability that he can fill in at shortstop in a pinch. He also began seeing time at both corner outfield spots. THE FUTURE: Kramer is now 26 and coming off a down year. He should serve as bench depth in 2020 and could work his way back into the second base mix with a rebound season at the plate.
TRACK RECORD: The Pirates signed Florez for $150,000 out of Colombia as the top pitcher in their 2016 international signing class. They moved him step-by-step to each Rookie-ball affiliate after signing, and he turned in a 3.46 ERA in 10 starts at Rookie-level Bristol in the Appalachian League in 2019. SCOUTING REPORT: Florez already has a huge 6-foot-5, 222-pound frame, which has led to premium velocity early in his career. He already reaches the mid-90s with his fastball and even sat 95-97 mph during part of the 2019 season. Florez throws hard but needs to improve his control. He struck out just 36 and walked 21 in 43.2 innings at Bristol, largely because he couldn't control his fastball. Florez has made strides in other areas of his game. His changeup has developed into a usable pitch with average or better potential. He switched from a loopy curveball to a hard slider this year, but it's still a work in progress. THE FUTURE: Florez's focus going forward will be improving his control and adding an out pitch. He may see low Class A Greensboro in 2020.
TRACK RECORD: Kranick fell to the Pirates in the 11th round in 2016 due to signability concerns, but signed for $300,000 to break his commitment to Virginia. After a stop-and-go start to his pro career, he reached high Class A Bradenton in 2019 and turned in a 3.79 ERA over 20 starts. SCOUTING REPORT: Kranick has shown above-average control since turning pro and made improvements and adjustments to his pitch selection last season. After sitting in the low-90s with his fastball in 2018, he began sitting 94-96 mph and touching 97 in 2019. Kranick's fastball stands out, but his other pitches need work. He switched from a 12-to-6 curveball to a hard slider he typically throws in the mid-80s, though he will throw it harder at times with more cutter action. He also has a changeup he has flashed feel for since high school. Kranick used all three of his pitches by the end of the year and finished strong with a 2.95 ERA in his final 10 starts before reaching his innings limit. THE FUTURE: Kranick shows the makings of a potential back-of-the-rotation starter with his improving fastball and sharp control. He'll need to improve his secondaries.
TRACK RECORD: The Pirates drafted Craig with the 22nd overall pick in 2016 after he finished third in the nation in slugging percentage at Wake Forest, but things quickly went south in pro ball. He moved from third base to first base due to shoulder soreness and has yet to hit for average and power together. He hit a career-high 23 home runs at Triple-A Indianapolis in 2019, but also had a career-high 146 strikeouts. SCOUTING REPORT: Craig alternately shows flashes of plus power or the ability to hit for average and get on base with a line-drive approach, but can't sync it up. When he hits for average, he shows little power. When he hits for power, his average and on-base percentage drop precipitously. He's emphasized power each of the last two years and shown average power and below-average hitting ability, which is not enough to project as an everyday regular at first base. Craig is a below-average runner and defender limited to first base, where he is solid-average. THE FUTURE: Craig won't get a shot in Pittsburgh unless Josh Bell gets injured, and even then it would be a short-term fix. He'll return to Triple-A in 2020.
TRACK RECORD: The Pirates acquired Burdi from the Phillies after the 2017 Rule 5 draft knowing he would miss most of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Burdi returned at the end of the season and opened 2019 in the Pirates bullpen, but in April he went down clutching his right biceps after a pitch. Burdi had thoracic outlet surgery and missed the rest of the year. SCOUTING REPORT: Burdi brings a power arsenal in relief befitting a closer. His fastball sits 96-97 mph and has reached triple-digits, and he backs it up with a devastating hard slider in the 87-90 mph range. Burdi's command is imprecise and he occasionally leaves pitches over the plate, but his stuff is good enough to miss bats even when he makes mistakes. He struck out 42.5 percent of the batters he faced in his brief time in the majors last season, and that was with him still rounding into form. THE FUTURE: Burdi will be under Rule 5 roster restrictions for the third straight year in 2020. Few pitchers successfully return from thoracic outlet surgery, but Burdi will try to beat the odds.
TRACK RECORD: Bido got a late start to his pro career after signing with the Pirates for $20,000 as a 21-year-old in 2017. He made the jump to full-season ball in 2019 and finished fourth in the organization with a 3.32 ERA while advancing to high Class A Bradenton. SCOUTING REPORT: Bido has plenty of stuff to compensate for his advanced age. He sits 92-95 mph on his fastball and touches 97. Despite turning 24 after the season, he still has a lanky frame with more room to add velocity as he fills out. Bido's control has improved a great deal year over year. He's still wild at times, but the throws enough strikes with quality stuff to overcome it. Bido pairs his fastball with an upper-80s cutter and also throws a slider and a changeup. None of his secondaries are bat-missing pitches, but his cutter in particular has shown flashes of being an effective offering. THE FUTURE: Bido projects best as a reliever in the majors who works off of his fastball and cutter. He'll see Double-A Altoona in 2020 and will continue starting for now.
TRACK RECORD: Cederlind's fastball sat in the mid-90s when the Pirates drafted him in the fifth round in 2016, but he has boosted both his velocity and his prospect stock the last two years after moving to the bullpen. He jumped three levels from high Class A Bradenton to Triple-A Indianapolis in 2019 and logged a combined 2.43 ERA as a late-inning reliever. SCOUTING REPORT: Cederlind's fastball jumped into the 97-101 mph range with his move to the bullpen and has touched as high as 102. It's a power offering befitting a late-inning reliever, but Cederlind still has a few things to work out. Cederlind's below-average control has improved but still rears its ugly head during bouts of extreme wildness and he doesn't have a secondary pitch that will play in the majors. His slider is currently fringy and his changeup below-average, although there is hope his slider can tick up to average if he stops overthrowing it. THE FUTURE: The Pirates placed Cederlind on their 40-man roster after the season, putting him in position to make his major league debut in 2020. His control and secondaries will have to improve for him to stick in Pittsburgh's bullpen.
TRACK RECORD: The Pirates signed Sanchez for $450,000 as the headline player of their 2015 international class. Sanchez was lauded for his five-tool talent at the time of his signing, but after five pro seasons, the most important tool—his bat—has yet to come around. SCOUTING REPORT: Sanchez's one consistent tool is his speed. He's an above-average to plus runner who has stolen at least 30 bases each of the last two seasons, and that speed gives him plenty of range in center field. Sanchez's problem is at the plate. Though he doesn't strike out an overwhelming amount, he's an extreme free swinger who, in the words of one scout, “hasn't met a fastball he won't swing at.” Sanchez often undermines his game by trying to hit for power when he should focus on driving the ball, and his over-swinging often leads to empty at-bats. Sanchez has flashed average power, but most feel he'd be better off focusing on line-drive contact and letting his speed work. THE FUTURE: Sanchez's entire approach needs an overhaul. Without it, his upside is limited to a fifth outfielder who only provide values with his defense and speed, a rarity in today's game.
TRACK RECORD: The Pirates drafted Herman out of high school in the 30th round in 2018, a spot where high school picks normally end up going to college. Herman, however, signed with the Pirates for $50,000 instead of heading to Maryland and already looks like a good value. He hit .340 after signing in his pro debut and moved to low Class A Greensboro in 2019, where he posted an .804 OPS in 75 games. SCOUTING REPORT: Previously regarded as a contact hitter, Herman added muscle in the offseason to improve his power production and saw results. He hit 13 home runs in just 75 games at Greensboro and finished fourth on the team with a .464 slugging percentage. That increased power came with a drop in his contact skills, however, and a strikeout rate that nearly doubled from 2018. Herman has quick hands and sound swing mechanics and now needs to find the balance between hitting for average and hitting for power. He profiles as a right fielder, with plus arm strength and enough range that he could play center field in a pinch. THE FUTURE: Herman will likely see high Class A Bradenton in 2020, where he'll be challenged to find out who he is as a hitter.
TRACK RECORD: Dixon was one of the most-seen high school players in the country as a four-year starter at national power Orange (Calif.) Lutheran. Questions about his bat and the strength of his commitment to Southern California caused him to fall to the 23rd of the draft, where the Pirates grabbed him and signed him for an above-slot $225,000. Dixon promptly went out and hit .329 in his pro debut while showing some of the best speed in the Pirates' system. SCOUTING REPORT: Dixon has the tools to be a dynamic player. He's a plus-plus runner, has pure arm strength and the ingredients to be an above-average to plus defender in center field. Dixon has plus bat speed and makes contact, but his lack of natural timing or feel for the barrel led to a lot of mis-hit balls and poor quality contact in high school. He answered questions about his bat by showing excellent plate discipline and better quality contact in his pro debut, with flashes of average raw power. THE FUTURE: Dixon has the look of a speedy, leadoff-hitting center fielder. He will try to show his hitting strides weren't a fluke at low Class A Greensboro in 2020.
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