Pittsburgh Pirates: Top 10 Prospects

Pittsburgh Pirates

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

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1. Pedro Alvarez, 3b
2. Andrew McCutchen, of
3. Jose Tabata, of
4. Brad Lincoln, rhp
5. Bryan Morris, rhp
6. Neil Walker, 3b
7. Jeff Sues, rhp
8. Shelby Ford, 2b
9. Daniel McCutchen, rhp
10. Robbie Grossman, of
Best Hitter for Average Pedro Alvarez
Best Power Hitter Pedro Alvarez
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Jim Negrych
Fastest Baserunner Jose de los Santos
Best Athlete Andrew McCutchen
Best Fastball Jeff Sues
Best Curveball Brad Lincoln
Best Slider Daniel Moskos
Best Changeup Ronald Uviedo
Best Control Daniel McCutchen
Best Defensive Catcher Steve Lerud
Best Defensive Infielder Luis Cruz
Best Infield Arm Jordy Mercer
Best Defensive Outfielder Andrew McCutchen
Best Outfield Arm Austin McClune
Catcher Ryan Doumit
First Base Adam LaRoche
Second Base Shelby Ford
Third Base Pedro Alvarez
Shortstop Jarek Cunningham
Left Field Nate McLouth
Center Field Andrew McCutchen
Right Field Jose Tabata
No. 1 Starter Brad Lincoln
No. 2 Starter Ian Snell
No. 3 Starter Bryan Morris
No. 4 Starter Paul Maholm
No. 5 Starter Tom Gorzelanny
Closer Matt Capps
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Chad Hermansen, of Mets
2000 Chad Hermansen, of Mets
2001 J.R. House, c Astros
2002 J.R. House, c Astros
2003 John Van Benschoten, rhp Pirates
2004 John Van Benschoten, rhp Pirates
2005 Zach Duke, lhp Pirates
2006 Neil Walker, c Pirates
2007 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2008 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Bobby Bradley, rhp Out of baseball
2000 Sean Burnett, lhp Pirates
2001 John Van Benschoten, rhp Pirates
2002 Bryan Bullington, rhp Indians
2003 Paul Maholm, lhp Pirates
2004 Neil Walker, c Pirates
2005 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2006 Brad Lincoln, rhp Pirates
2007 Daniel Moskos, lhp
2008 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Pirates
Pedro Alvarez, 2008 $6,000,000
Bryan Bullington, 2002 $4,000,000
Brad Lincoln, 2006 $2,750,000
Daniel Moskos, 2007 $2,475,000
John Van Benschoten, 2001 $2,400,000
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Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are likely to set a record for infamy in 2009 as their never-ending rebuilding process continues. Unless they manage to surpass expectations and win 81 games, they'll endure their 17th straight losing season, giving them sole possession of the U.S. major professional sports mark that they currently share with the 1933-48 Phillies.

Pittsburgh went 67-95 last year, its first under a new regime. Frank Coonelly was hired away from his role as Major League Baseball's chief labor lawyer to oversee the franchise as club president. Coonelly installed Indians assistant general manager Neal Huntington as GM. Huntington gave John Russell, manager of the Phillies' Triple-A Ottawa farm club, his first crack as a major league skipper.

The Pirates began another reconstruction under their new administration. Their most visible moves came in late July, when they sent Jason Bay to the Red Sox and Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees in trades that netted eight young players. Craig Hansen, Jeff Karstens, Andy LaRoche, Brandon Moss and Ross Ohlendorf all saw action with the major league club—and no longer qualify for this list—while outfielder Jose Tabata and righthanders Bryan Morris and Daniel McCutchen all rank among the system's top 10 prospects.

Pittsburgh went 17-37 over the final two months while fielding a young lineup.

The Pirates showed a new commitment to strengthening their player-development and scouting departments under new leadership. Huntington named Indians assistant farm director Kyle Stark as farm director and former Tigers scouting director Greg Smith as scouting director.

Pittsburgh began building a new academy in the Dominican Republic that Latin America scouting director Rene Gayo said would be among the top two facilities in the island nation. The Pirates also spent $9.8 million on draft bonuses, more than any club had ever spent before last summer (albeit the fourth-highest total in 2008). That total included a $6 million bonus as part of a $6.355 million major league contract for No. 2 overall pick Pedro Alvarez—which included as much drama as it did cash.

The Pirates originally announced that Alvarez had agreed to a straight $6 million bonus minutes before the signing deadline on Aug. 15. Twelve days later, agent Scott Boras claimed Alvarez reached his deal two minutes after the midnight deadline, prompting the MLB Players Association to file a grievance.

The two sides settled on Sept. 24 after plenty of rancor between Boras and Coonelly, who conceded afterward that the deal was consummated at 12:02 a.m. on Aug. 16. There were enough ill feelings that Pittsburgh didn't hold a press conference to introduce Alvarez, and neither Coonelly nor Huntington were present when Alvarez signed his contract at PNC Park.

In an effort to pump up a thin farm system, the Pirates exceeded MLB's bonus recommendations to sign a pair of high school seniors: outfielder Robbie Grossman ($1 million in the sixth round) and righthander Quinton Miller ($900,000 in the 20th). Their search for talent extended to a nation that has yet to produce a big leaguer, as they signed switch-hitting South African shortstop Mpho Ngoepe after scouting him at MLB's European Baseball Academy in Italy.

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