My Top 40 Pirate Prospects

Here's my top 40. I tried to keep my comments succinct while also giving an idea of how I see each player. I take the rankings seriously, but the grades are more important. There's not a whole lot separating players of the same grade, generally speaking.

1. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Grade A-: Stud. Three plus pitches, developing changeup. Nothing to complain about.

2. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Grade A-: Stud. Three plus pitches. Minor command and pitchability issues, but no real concerns.

3. Starling Marte, CF, Grade B: He's made a believer out of me. Poor approach will keep him from reaching his upside, but he should still be good.

4. Tony Sanchez, C, Grade B: I still believe in him. Good defensive catcher who controls the strike zone = good prospect.

5. Josh Bell, LF, Grade B: Amazing bat. I rate him behind Marte and Sanchez because of defensive/positional value and distance from the majors.

6. Stetson Allie, RHP, Grade B: I don't see him any differently now than I did a year ago. He needs to improve his control, obviously, but I love his stuff.

7. Luis Heredia, RHP, Grade B-: A little overrated, IMO. Huge upside but still raw. I rate him below Allie because he doesn't have Allie's stuff and his delivery/command problems are almost as big.

8. Jarek Cunningham, 2B, Grade B-: Beautiful swing, huge power, probably a corner outfielder long-term. Could bust in AA because of pitch recognition issues, but he's also missed a lot of time due to injury in his career and deserves some slack IMO.

9. Kyle McPherson, RHP, Grade B-: I think all three of his pitches are above average. He just needs to refine his command and stay consistent with his secondaries. Should be a #3-4 starter.

10. Jeff Locke, LHP, Grade B-: His stuff is a little underrated IMO. His fastball is solid for a lefty, and I think his curve and change are both above average. I'm a little concerned that his track record is so underwhelming though. #3-5 starter.

11. Nick Kingham, RHP, Grade B-: A personal favorite. Clean, simple delivery; good frame; good present velocity with some projection remaining; three potential plus pitches; good pitchability.

12. Alen Hanson, SS, Grade C+: Another personal favorite. Fast, excellent bat speed, good instincts. I think he can stick at an up-the-middle position even if he has to move off SS, and I think he'll hit for average and power once he fills out. He's still raw though, and needs work on his approach and pitch recognition.

13. Matt Curry, 1B, Grade C+: I like his swing and all-fields approach, but he's got no defensive value and isn't adjusting to AA as well as I'd hoped.

14. Alex Dickerson, 1B, Grade C+: Good power, but no defensive value. I don't like his swing very much and I'm a little concerned about his injury history.

15. Bryan Morris, RHP, Grade C+: I think he'll thrive in a relief role. Groundball-inducing fastball and knockout curve should make him a closer or quality set-up man in the near future.

16. Colton Cain, LHP, Grade C+: Secondaries aren't coming along as hoped, but his fastball is very good.

17. Zack Von Rosenberg, RHP, Grade C+: I think the fastball will work fine for him once he stops throwing it thigh-high in hitters' counts. The secondaries are good, and if he gains a few MPH he could become a #2.

18. Rudy Owens, LHP, Grade C+: The lack of stuff is catching up to him. Still has three average pitches and good control, though. Could be a #5 starter.

19. Justin Wilson, LHP, Grade C+: If the 99 MPH reports are true he could be a good reliever, but I don't buy him as a starter. Poor command and no changeup aren't cutting it in the rotation.

20. Zack Dodson, LHP, Grade C+: A bit under the radar right now. He's got three solid pitches, gets groundballs, has good control. He's similar to Jeff Locke. Would probably be higher if he'd been healthy all year.

21. Mel Rojas, CF, Grade C+: Raw, but I still believe in the tools. Could break out big in the next couple years.

22. Joely Rodriguez, LHP, Grade C+: I'm buying the reports of 90-93 MPH fastball and plus curve. Lost season sucks, but he could be special.

23. Gorkys Hernandez, CF, Grade C: I'm probably overrating him, but I'm a sucker for good defenders at premium positions. I think he could work as a defense-first starter, but he's probably a fifth outfielder in a crowded Pirates OF.

24. Phillip Irwin, RHP, Grade C: He's underrated. Reportedly increased his velo to 92-93 this year, and his curve and change are decent. He doesn't get a lot of Ks, but limits walks and gets groundballs. Could be a #5 starter.

25. Ramon Cabrera, C, Grade C: Good hitter who controls the zone well, but small size and lack of power will be a problem. Not a great glove, but should stick at catcher. Likely third-string catcher, but I've got a suspicion he might overachieve.

26. Robbie Grossman, RF, Grade C: Impressive season, but I don't see much power projection and I don't think his approach will play as well against more advanced pitchers.

27. Zac Fuesser, LHP, Grade C: Mediocre stuff, but decent results, three-pitch mix, and ability to throw with left hand make him worth watching.

28. Evan Chambers, CF, Grade C: He really needs to improve his approach, but he's got some upside if he does. Above average speed and power, though he probably moves to a corner eventually.

29. Gift Ngoepe, SS, Grade C: Still very raw, but good defense at SS and some upside with the bat. Lost season is a real killer.

30. Jose Osuna, RF, Grade C: Big power potential with the bat, and he controlled the zone well this season in the GCL. Might end up at 1B.

31. Gregory Polanco, CF, Grade C: Fast, athletic, and strong, with a mature approach for his age. Swing seems oriented toward line drives rather than loft, but he hits the ball hard.

32. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Grade C: The projectability is mouth-watering, and he already has a decent breaking ball.

33. Jordy Mercer, SS, Grade C: Seems destined for a utility role. The bat isn't good enough to start, but he's strong defensively at all three infield positions.

34. Cesar Lopez, RHP, Grade C: Reports are sketchy, but it seems he already has three pitches, including a low 90s sinker. The Pirates paid $600K for him, so they must believe in his upside. I have a good feeling about him.

35. Ryan Hafner, RHP, Grade C: Projectable and has a decent changeup, but he's still sitting in the high 80s for now.

36. Tyler Waldron, RHP, Grade C: Underwhelming season, but he's got three average pitches. I think he might flourish once he graduates from the fastball-heavy approach. Possible #4-5 starter.

37. Willy Garcia, CF, Grade C: Athletic and projectable, but very raw at the plate.

38. Orlando Castro, LHP, Grade C: Similar to Fuesser, except that his size makes starting next to impossible. Advanced arsenal, good results, and left-handedness get him on the list.

39. Dilson Herrera, SS, Grade C: This is kind of BS, honestly. I've never even read a report on him. But he had an excellent year in the VSL and for some reason I've got a good feeling about him.

40. Elevys Gonzalez, 3B, Grade C: He can do a little of everything, but ultimately I think the bat will fall short.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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