Kentucky Pirate has done such a great job with his prospect list that I thought it would be cool to make a list of the best prospects the Pirates have had over the past ten seasons. Now this list can have various rationals behind your decision on where to rank the prospects. You could look at how high they ranked by Baseball America or other outlets. Perhaps you could look at their meteoric rise to fame like we have seen so far out of Glasnow. Perhaps the position in the draft they were taking whether it was Cole at 1 or a mid to late round pick that showed progression at each stage. It could even be a guy that was underwhelming in the minors but made a solid pro career for himself. I also would take into account what that particular player meant to the organization at the time he was drafted like Pedro signing for a huge bonus, or Taillon being the first big money pitcher that we brought in that set the new higher prospect standard. It could even be an International prospect signing for big dollars or coming out of obscurity to become a star. The list is really up to however you want to make it and the prospects can be drafted before the 2004 season, just as long as they were in the system by then is fine.
I think the list should be a top ten list and it can consist of whoever you want on it since this wont be put to a vote like KP's list. This is just an interesting approach to see how the BD community feels with the progress and impact the Pirates farm system has had over the past decade.
1.) Andrew McCutchen -- Cutch came at a time when we were desperate for a star when the system seemed to be at pretty low level.We all know the story of how the scouts pushed for Cutch and Littlefield wanted to go elsewhere.
2.) Jameson Taillon -- Taillon represents our first big ticket pitching prospect in what I'm dubbing the "Pirates Farm Renaissance." It appeared at the time it was going to be either Machado the great young shortstop, or Taillon the HS Prep with all the tools to be an ace in the making. Management's commitment to Taillon opened the doors for the Pirates to really start investing heavily into projectable HS prep pitchers.
3.) Pedro Alvarez -- Pedro didn't spend a lot of times in the minors, but again at the number 3 spot on the list he represents another big ticket item when the cupboard was pretty bare. We all remember the drama that came with this prospect when the deal came down to literally the last second to sign him and wasnt reported til much later after the deadline. His big league career started with a bang his first summer up then fell into some tough times. Pedro is a cornerstone to the Pirates MLB team and a big reason for their 2013 success. Pedro had some crazy streaks during his time in the minors/ It seemed like he would go on a 3 game stretch hitting like 5 hrs and a bunch of doubles, but then strike out 7 times the next two games. Doesn't actually seem like a lot has changed in his time in the majors either.
4.) Starling Marte -- Marte improved his game at each level and if I'm not mistaken won the Double A batting crown. He is another player that is more valuable beyond his stats in the minors. Marte represents the first graduate of the Pirates Dominican Academy and represents what the successes can be of investing heavily into scouting and developing in our international system.
5.) Gerrit Cole -- Cole was the first overall player selected in his draft class. He is another big part of the Pirates Farm renaissance due to the fact that he was the highest paid prospect we have ever had. Cole shows again that the Pirates were willing to spend big on the draft and their future. Signability under the older draft system was a non-issue for the Pirates when picking first overall. Cole had modest numbers in the minors, but that can be explained due to putting more of an emphasis on developing the prospect rather than putting up big gaudy numbers.
6.) Gregory Polanco -- Polanco is currently the best prospect in perhaps the best farm system the Pirates have ever had. He is another prospect that was not highly regarded and signed for a modest bonus before exploding on to the scene in a big way. With Polanco's intangibles, he represents one of our best "can't miss" prospects we have had in the past ten years.
7.) Neil Walker -- Walker is a homegrown Pittsburgh Pirate if there ever was one. He progressed through every level of the minors while struggling at times. He has faced adversity with injury and an inability to stay behind the plate. Walker was a prospect that showed that there are multiple ways of reaching and achieving success in the bigs. He was a high first round pick that struggled for a while in the minors, almost losing top prospect status, then graduated and switched positions a few times until he finally was able to stick at second. Walker was the best of the bunch for a few years during the early part of the past ten seasons.
8.) Tyler Glasnow -- Glasnow has huge potential to be a dominant ace with his height and great fastball/curveball combo. He had huge strikeout numbers this past season bursting onto the scene and making it currently to the third overall prospect in our system today. He also represents exactly why the Pirates draft so many tall, projectable pitchers and what happens when they actually start to pan out.
9.) Josh Bell -- I know its hard to put Bell on to this top ten list of Pirates prospects of the past ten years for what he has accomplished so far in the minors. He does represent a big significance with his signing though. At the time he was drafted Bell was projected as a first round pick, but told all of the teams not to draft him because he intended on honoring his commitment to the University of Texas. Well the Pirates decided to take him in the second round paying him something like 5 million to break his commitment to Texas. This was the highest bonus to any player drafted outside of the first round and essentially the main reason why the MLB decided to go with a new draft slotting system. (DAMN YOU SELIG!!!) Bell still has huge potential and could quickly become a top prospect after hopefully a huge year this season. With the money committed to Bell, expectations should remain high.
10.) Jason Bay -- This one took a little digging to do, but in 2004 Bay ranked as the number 3 prospect in our system behind John VanBenschoten and Sean Burnett. Bay seemed to be the only star we had for a few years during some of the dark days of Pirates baseball. Bay actually represents an outcome the was not seen too often. Bay was actually part of one of the most successful trades in Pirates history when the FO would trade off established veterans for more prospects. If you don't remember, Bay came over will Oliver Perez for Brian Giles.