2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 10 Prospects

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, 2011.

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1. Gerrit Cole, rhp
2. Jameson Taillon, rhp
3. Josh Bell, of
4. Starling Marte, of
5. Luis Heredia, rhp
6. Kyle McPherson, rhp
7. Tony Sanchez, c
8. Robbie Grossman, of
9. Stetson Allie, rhp
10. Jeff Locke, lhp
Best Hitter for Average Starling Marte
Best Power Hitter Josh Bell
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Robbie Grossman
Fastest Baserunner Alen Hanson
Best Athlete Starling Marte
Best Fastball Gerrit Cole
Best Curveball Jameson Taillon
Best Slider Gerrit Cole
Best Changeup Kyle McPherson
Best Control Kyle McPherson
Best Defensive Catcher Tony Sanchez
Best Defensive Infielder Pedro Ciriaco
Best Infield Arm Jordy Mercer
Best Defensive Outfielder Gorkys Hernandez
Best Outfield Arm Starling Marte
Catcher Tony Sanchez
First Base Alex Dickerson
Second Base Neil Walker
Third Base Pedro Alvarez
Shortstop Chase d'Arnaud
Left Field Andrew McCutchen
Center Field Starling Marte
Right Field Josh Bell
No. 1 Starter Gerrit Cole
No. 2 Starter Jameson Taillon
No. 3 Starter Luis Heredia
No. 4 Starter James McDonald
No. 5 Starter Kyle McPherson
Closer Stetson Allie
Year Player, Position 2011 Org.
2002 J.R. House, c Long Island (Atlantic)
2003 John Van Benschoten, rhp Padres
2004 John Van Benschoten, rhp Padres
2005 Zach Duke, lhp Diamondbacks
2006 Neil Walker, c Pirates
2007 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2008 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2009 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Pirates
2010 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Pirates
2011 Jameson Taillon, rhp Pirates
Year Player, Position 2011 Org.
2002 Bryan Bullington, rhp Hiroshima (Japan)
2003 Paul Maholm, lhp Pirates
2004 Neil Walker, c Pirates
2005 Andrew McCutchen, of Pirates
2006 Brad Lincoln, rhp Pirates
2007 Daniel Moskos, lhp Pirates
2008 Pedro Alvarez, 3b Pirates
2009 Tony Sanchez, c Pirates
2010 Jameson Taillon, rhp Pirates
2011 Gerrit Cole, rhp Pirates
Gerrit Cole, 2011 $8,000,000
Jameson Taillon, 2010 $6,500,000
Pedro Alvarez, 2008 $6,000,000
Josh Bell, 2011 $5,000,000
Bryan Bullington, 2002 $4,000,000
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Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates have committed to building from within and spending generously on scouting and player development ever since Bob Nutting ousted Kevin McClatchy as the franchise's chairman prior to the 2007 season.

Pittsburgh has spent $47.6 million in the draft during Neal Huntington's four years as general manager, including a major league-record $17 million last year in a haul that included No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole ($8 million) and second-rounder Josh Bell ($5 million), and reportedly drew a rebuke from commissioner Bud Selig at the owners' meetings in August. The Pirates have also been as aggressive as they have been in Latin America—they signed Mexican righthander Luis Heredia for $2.6 million in 2010—since legendary scout Howie Haak became a pioneer in that part of the world in the late 1950s.

However, all of that bonus money has yet to make an impact at the major league level. Pittsburgh's run of consecutive losing seasons now stands at 19, a record for a North American sports franchise, after it surprisingly occupied first place in the National League Central in late July only to lose 43 of its final 62 games. Of the club-record 52 players who saw action for the Pirates last season, just Pedro Alvarez and Chase d'Arnaud were signed as amateurs during the Huntington regime.

Pittsburgh counted on Alvarez as a major building block when they drafted him with the second overall pick in 2008 and gave him a $6.3 million major league contract. Now he's a question mark after batting .191/.272/.289 with four homers in 262 plate appearances last year. D'Arnaud looked overmatched in his big league debut, hitting .217/.242/.287.

The Pirates have used the strategy of exceeding MLB's bonus recommendations in the later rounds to sign pitchers away from solid college commitments. While that has stocked the lower levels of the system with live arms, none is close to being ready to help the major league club. The heavy concentration on pitchers also has left Pittsburgh with few impact hitting prospects beyond Bell, who has a chance to be special but has yet to play in a professional game, and fellow outfielder Starling Marte.

Nutting and club president Frank Coonelly are happy with the progress the organization is making and, to be fair, Huntington stepped into quite a mess when he replaced Dave Littlefield in September 2007. Huntington received a three-year contract extension in September that takes him through the 2014 season with a club option for 2015. Afterward, he did some rearranging in the front office.

Farm director Kyle Stark and scouting director Greg Smith both were promoted to assistant GM. Stark will oversee all elements of medical, physical, mental, personnel and player development at the major and minor league levels, while Smith will be in charge of all elements of the scouting operation at the amateur, professional and international levels.

Tyrone Brooks went from baseball operations director to player personnel director and will now lead the professional and international (non-Latin America) scouting efforts. Area scout Larry Broadway took over as farm director and Joe DelliCarri moves up from assistant scouting director to amateur scouting director and will run Pittsburgh's drafts.

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