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MLB Draft 2015: Pirates' system outfield depth

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Outfield depth should be a non-issue for the Pirates, as their starting outfield has been touted by many as potentially the best in baseball.  At least, that was before Andrew McCutchen began not being affected by a knee injury, as the team would have it.  Hopefully, at some point things will work themselves out.  As it stands, McCutchen is under team control through 2018, Starling Marte through 2021 and Gregory Polanco through 2020.  Of course, as the Pirates are finding out now, unexpected things happen.

The Pirates actually should be in a good position to replace one of their outfielders due to the depth they have in the minors.  The bulk of it was expected to be found at Bradenton, but like last year at West Virginia, things aren't working out as planned.  After missing most of last season, Austin Meadows (pictured) at least has stayed healthy and is off to a fairly good start.  The team's top pick in 2013, Meadows profiles as possibly similar to Jay Bruce.  The other two-thirds of Bradenton's would-be outfield are Barrett Barnes and Harold Ramirez.  Barnes has usually shown a very good bat when he's been on the field, but those appearances have been few and far between.  So far this year, he's managed to appear in only eight of the Marauders' 27 games.  Ramirez missed about half of last season.  This year, he has yet to emerge from extended spring training due to the Pirates' dissatisfaction with his conditioning.  It's very difficult to get a handle on Barnes' and Ramirez' potential given how little they've been able to play the last couple years.

The Pirates have other potential major leaguers, though, in their system.  At the upper levels, they're mainly potential fourth outfielders at best.  The Pirates have prioritized playing time for their veterans in AAA over Mel Rojas, so it's clear they don't consider him to have a great deal of potential.  Keon Broxton could handle center in the majors now, but the Pirates sent him back to AA.  Stetson Allie has huge power potential, but this year he isn't even hitting for power, and he's only in the outfield to make way for Josh Bell.  The one upper level prospect who might have the ability to claim at least part of a starting job in the majors is Willy Garcia, who has the classic right field combination of a power bat and a power arm.  Garcia, though, has yet to go deep this season and is slugging just .309.

West Virginia's potential outfield prospects have been moved to the infield, or Connor Joe probably would be if he ever played.  For now, Jordan Luplow has moved to third and Joe is playing first in extended spring training, but both could bring their (hopefully) polished bats back to the outfield if those experiments don't work out.  One West Virginia outfielder who hasn't moved is Tito Polo.  He had a strong season in the GCL last year, but isn't hitting nearly as well this year.

Further down in the system, the Pirates have two fairly highly touted Latin American outfielders.  Michael De La Cruz profiles as a center fielder and leadoff hitter, but he struggled mightily in his US debut last year in the Gulf Coast League.  Edison Lantigua will be debuting there this year at age 18, having had a promising season last year in the Dominican Summer League.