Top 20 Prospects...

With so many young guys in Pittsburgh and with the admitted prospect desert that is Indy/Altoona at the moment, I thought I'd poke around and see who Sickels at will likely be putting in the Pirates' Top 20 Prospects at the end of the season...

First off, here are the remnants from his 2006 list, minus the guys who have been called up...

  1. Neil Walker
  2. Andrew McCutchen
  3. Craig Stansberry
  4. Jonah Bayliss
  5. Brent Lillibridge
  6. Chad Blackwell
  7. Matt Swanson
  8. Javier Guzman
  9. Bryan Bullington
  10. Adam Boeve
  11. Rajai Davis
  12. Jason Quarles
Ouch.  When Chad Blackwell's #6, that's a really bad list.  But anyway, taking that as a starting point, here's how I see his list shaping up for '07 and beyond.  I tried to use as few recent draft picks as possible, as they just haven't had a chance to prove much, good or bad.
  1. OF Andrew McCutchen (will be 20 on Opening Day '07) - Walker had a slow start due to injury, and McCutchen's been steady all year (.293/.354/.450) at Hickory despite pitchers pitching around him.
  2. C Neil Walker (21 in `07) - He's picked up the pace and is now at .272/.317/.394 at Lynchburg.  I assume he'll start next year at Altoona, though spending the first couple of months at Lynchburg again isn't the worst idea I've ever heard.
  3. 2B Craig Stansberry (25 in `07) - Promoted to AAA a while back, he's only hitting .240 in 128 AB's, but he has few K's (21) and high BB's (19) considering he's new to AAA.  He'll start next year in Indy but could be ready for Pittsburgh not long after that.  For most organizations, he'd be a Top 10 guy, but not #3.  Then again, in the Cardinals organization, he'd likely be #1.
  4. RHSP Todd Redmond (21 in `07) - Having a stellar year in Hickory (9-6, 3.01 ERA, 2.86 PERA, 1.11 WHIP, 4.6 K/BB ratio, 8.23 K/9).  To me, he's pretty clearly one of the two front-runners for the organization's minor league pitcher of the year unless Gorzelanny qualifies.
  5. RHRP Jonah Bayliss (26 in `07) - Serviceable during his week in Pittsburgh, no idea why Britt Reames got called up instead of him last week.  He's mastered AAA (1.80 ERA, 18 saves), so it's time to see what he can do at the major league level.
  6. LHSP Shane Youman (27 in '07) - Was torching Altoona (7-2, 1.51 ERA) before getting promoted to Indy.  Through 17 innings, he's 1-0 with a 7.41 ERA, but that's a tiny sample size.  He's not a strikeout guy, and he'll be 27 soon, so he's not a top-level prospect, but he's good enough for #6 here...and sadly, he's the other front-runner for minor league pitcher of the year.
  7. SS Brent Lillibridge (23 in '07) - Was also torching Hickory (.299/.414/.522) until a promotion.  Is holding his own in Lynchburg (.262/.371/ power yet, but it'll come), though he's old enough that he needs to be making his move shortly.
  8. 1B Steven Pearce (23 in '07) - Same as Lillibridge--was tearing it up at Hickory (.288/.363/.606) and is holding his own in Lynchburg (.255/.335/.444)...and will also be 23 next year.
  9. RHRP Brian Rogers (24 in '07) - Obtained from the Tigers for Sean Casey, he's got a funky delivery and pretty good K/9 (9.28) and K/BB (4.13) numbers.  Relief prospects are a dime a dozen, and the Pirates have a dozen of them, but he's not bad.
  10. RHRP Jesse Chavez (23 in '07) - Just like Brian Rogers, only you change a few words.  He's tall and skinny and throws hard, and he has pretty good K/9 (10.68 in AA) and K/BB (2.50) numbers.  Three relievers in your overall Top 10 isn't a good thing.
  11. OF Adam Boeve (26 in '07) - Came out of a slump recently and has put up decent numbers at AAA (.271/.324/.388).
  12. 1B Mike Carlin (25 in '07) - Too old for his level (he's at A+ Lynchburg), but he's doing pretty decent this year (.261/.335/.445).  In 341 AB's, he's only got 11 HR's, but his slugging % is still pretty good.  So yes...he's too old and doesn't hit enough HR's for his position, but he's #12 on the Pirates list.
  13. RHSP Brad Lincoln - Hasn't proven a ton this year, but we've all heard too many good things about him to not put him on this list.
  14. SS Javier Guzman (24 in '07) - Hasn't hit very well in Altoona (.268/.299/.390, 7 HR's...barely an improvement over what he did last year in Altoona), but I guess he plays pretty good defense or something...something made Sickels put him on the list originally, so I'll stick him at #14.
  15. SS Brian Bixler (24 in '07) - Middle Infielder #4 on the list, Bixler was promoted to Altoona recently and is doing alright (.280/.327/.399).
  16. RHSP Wardell Starling (24 in '07) - Recovering from a poor season at Lynchburg last year to put up pretty good numbers in Altoona (4-2, 3.07 ERA, 3.30 PERA).  His K/9 (5.01) and K/BB (1.63) numbers aren't that good, but people aren't hitting the ball that hard off of him, so that's a good thing, right?
  17. RHRP Chad Blackwell (24 in '07) - Has followed up a decent season in Class A last year with an okay season in A+ (2-5, 1 S, 4.23 ERA).  Decent K/BB, decent WHIP, decent everything, but nothing outstanding.  And according to Baseball Cube, he's 145 pounds.  Damn.
  18. OF Brad Corley (23 in '07) - The 2005 2nd rounder has hit 15 HR's in Hickory, which, sadly, puts him near the top of the Pirates' organization.  His overall numbers aren't that hot (.287/.307/.450), but take what you can get.
  19. 2B Shelby Ford (22 in '07) - The 2006 3rd rounder absolutely raked at Williamsport (.400/.483/.520), and they sent him to Hickory after just 25 AB's.  He's slumped recently, but he's doing alright (.254/.313/.426) considering he's been a professional for about two months now.
  20. RHRP Steven Duguay (24 in '07) - Is doing well at Lynchburg (7-1, 11 S, 3.04 ERA, 2.11 PERA, 1.10 WHIP, 2.35 K/BB, 7.61 K/9), but at his age, he needs to make a move at Altoona next year.
So in summary, that's 5 relief pitchers and 5 middle infielders in the Top 20.  Don't know what to say about that, other than that it can't be all that good.  But at least McCutchen is the real deal...

Be sure to check out the Tuesday Pirates Rant tomorrow at Good Nonsense!

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