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. Jose Tabata, of
3. Tony Sanchez, c
4. Brad Lincoln, rhp
5. Chase D'Arnaud, ss/2b
6. Starling Marte, of
7. Tim Alderson, rhp
8. Zack Von Rosenberg, rhp
9. Rudy Owens, lhp
10. Gorkys Hernandez, of
Best Hitter for Average Jose Tabata
Best Power Hitter Pedro Alvarez
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Chase d'Arnaud
Fastest Baserunner Jose de los Santos
Best Athlete Chase d'Arnaud
Best Fastball Victor Black
Best Curveball Brad Lincoln
Best Slider Victor Black
Best Changeup Daniel McCutchen
Best Control Rudy Owens
Best Defensive Catcher Tony Sanchez
Best Defensive Infielder Argenis Diaz
Best Infield Arm Argenis Diaz
Best Defensive Outfielder Gorkys Hernandez
Best Outfield Arm Starling Marte
Catcher Tony Sanchez
First Base Jeff Clement
Second Base Akinori Iwamura
Third Base Pedro Alvarez
Shortstop Chase d'Arnaud
Left Field Lastings Milledge
Center Field Andrew McCutchen
Right Field Jose Tabata
No. 1 Starter Brad Lincoln
No. 2 Starter Charlie Morton
No. 3 Starter Ross Ohlendorf
No. 4 Starter Zach Duke
No. 5 Starter Paul Maholm
Closer Victor Black
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Chad Hermansen, of Out of baseball
2001 J.R. House, c Royals
2002 J.R. House, c Royals
2003 John Van Benchoten, rhp White Sox
2004 John Van Benchoten, rhp White Sox
2005 Zach Duke, lhp Pirates
2006 Neil Walker, c Pirates
2007 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2008 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2009 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Pirates
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Sean Burnett, lhp Nationals
2001 John Van Benschoten, rhp White Sox
2002 Bryan Bullington, rhp Blue Jays
2003 Paul Maholm, lhp Pirates
2004 Neil Walker, c Pirates
2005 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2006 Brad Lincoln Pirates
2007 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2008 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Pirates
2009 Tony Sanchez, c Pirates
Pedro Alvarez, 2008 $6,000,000
Bryan Bullington, 2002 $4,000,000
Brad Lincoln, 2006 $2,750,000
Tony Sanchez, 2009 $2,500,000
Daniel Moskos, 2007 $2,475,000
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Pittsburgh Pirates

After Neal Huntington became Pirates general manager late in the 2007 season, it didn't take him long to understand what the organization needed: young talent and lots of it. Pittsburgh not only had a bad major league team, but it also had little talent in the farm system. It made for a deadly mix that appeared to sentence the franchise to losing into perpetuity.

While the Pirates have become the only major North American pro sports team to endure 17-straight losing seasons after finishing 62-99 (the second-worst record in baseball) in 2009, their talent base has improved. Huntington has almost completely stripped the major league roster, trading away as many parts as he could in an effort to acquire prospects. He made seven trades last June and July alone, sending away eight players and getting 15 in return.

By the time the season ended, just five players remained on the major league roster who were on the major league club when Huntington was hired: Matt Capps, Ryan Doumit, Zach Duke, Paul Maholm and Steve Pearce. On the minor league side, just six of the players in the Pirates' top 30 were in the organization when Huntington took over.

Owner Bob Nutting, noted for his penny-pinching ways in his other business holdings, which include newspapers and a ski resort, has held the line on major league salaries. After all the trades, Pittsburgh's payroll was approximately $25 million by the end of last season. However, Nutting has given Huntington expanded budgets in the areas of scouting and player development.

The Pirates have spent more money ($18.7 million) on the last two drafts than any team. They gave out their first major league contract to a draftee, a $6.335 million deal to land No. 2 overall pick Pedro Alvarez in 2008. While they stuck to Major League Baseball's slot recommendation for this year's first-round pick, catcher Tony Sanchez, they gave seven-figure bonuses to sixth-round pick Zack Von Rosenberg and eighth-rounder Colton Cain. In fact, the Pirates have continually exceeded MLB's bonus recommendations under their new administration, ironic considering that club president Frank Coonelly helped to enforce the slotting system when he worked for MLB.

Pittsburgh also opened a $5 million academy in the Dominican Republic last April and has further expanded its international horizons by signing amateurs from Africa, Asia and Europe since Huntington arrived.

Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh became the first natives of India to play professional baseball when they made their debuts in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last summer. South African infielder Gift Ngoepe became a sensation when he hit two triples off veteran big leaguer Elmer Dessens in the World Baseball Classic, then later was featured in a lengthy Sports Illustrated profile.

With Baseball America Rookie of the Year Andrew McCutchen emerging in 2009, the Pirates believe they're starting to get the franchise turned around as they try to regain their status in a city where they have been lapped by the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers and defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins. Pittsburgh drew just 1.58 million fans last season, the lowest mark since PNC Park opened in 2001. An angry fan base has waited a long time to have a wining team to cheer, but they're going to have to wait a little longer for the moves below the major league surface to pay off.

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