BD Top 21 Community Prospect List: #7 Prospect


Luckily, no hanging chads are possible in our voting process to muddy up the results.

The Top Twenty-One:

  1. Tyler Glasnow
  2. Austin Meadows
  3. Josh Bell
  4. Jameson Taillon
  5. Harold Ramirez (tie with McGuire)
  6. Reese McGuire (tie with Ramirez)

Ladies and gentlemen of Bucs Dugout, we have a tie. McGuire's strong showing was a bit of a surprise, as it actually took a while for him to be added to our voting list, yet he hung neck and neck with Ramirez throughout the round and things finished up in a dead heat. And so, we will have co-prospects listed at the #5 slot. Both youngsters come with strong pedigrees and have showed dominant skills in some areas of their games, but both also have some questions yet to be answered.

I'll start off with the young Columbian. 2015 was easily Ramirez's most impressive campaign to date in the Pirates farm system, as he posted excellent numbers in the Advanced A Florida State League. Indeed, it would have been considered an unmitigated success had he been able to start the season on time there. Instead, Harold showed up to Florida this Spring overweight, resulting in him being held back in extended Spring Training. Once he was allowed to join the team in Bradenton, however, he proved to be the Maurader's most productive hitter. It was also a positive development that he was able to stay healthy last season, as he had missed significant time in 2014 due to leg issues.

Still just 21, Ramirez has thus far readily shown the ability to hit for average, coupling decent strike zone judgement with above average hand eye coordination and bat speed. To this point he has displayed relatively modest in-game power and scouting reports are split on whether or not he is likely to exhibit more as he continues to develop. Harold does possess well above average speed, and could remain a base stealing threat at higher levels so long as he is able to maintain his weight. He currently displays enough range to play effectively in center field, though his throwing arm is considered to be fringe for the position. There is some fear that if Ramirez does continue to fill out as he gets older he may end up a tweener, with not quite enough range to man center, nor enough power to really be viable in left (i.e. Jose Tabata 2.0). For right now though, Ramirez just breezed through A+ ball as a mere twenty year old, so there are plenty of positives to point to.

If all goes as planned, the past Pirate whose career Harold Ramirez will end up most resembling is: Matty Alou.

Just pretend that Matty was a right handed batter, and this comp works out pretty nicely. Alou was a fine average hitter who didn't walk or strike out a whole bunch, nor did he feature much power. He ran pretty well and was a decent defender, capable of playing any of the outfield spots though probably stretched a bit while manning center (Alou actually had a solid throwing arm, but I'll choose to ignore this fact, as well). Matty finished his playing days sporting a shiny .307 career batting average and 20.4 fWAR.


McGuire was a high school selection, and the #14 overall pick out of the 2013 amateur draft. Reese was already considered to be an superb defender with excellent technique at the catching position on draft day. He has continued to impress in that regard, and has also shown an aptitude for game calling and on the field leadership in his time so far in the minors. McGuire's strong footwork and athleticism enable for him to react quickly behind the plate, allowing him to block balls well, and also to display elite pop up times when throwing out potential base stealers. His throwing arm is also above average. In short, he has proven to be the full package when donning the tools of ignorance.

The question McGuire must answer at the higher minor league levels is whether or not he will ever hit enough to be a starting caliber catcher, or instead will end up a defensive minded backup. To this point he has shown the ability to make contact, shooting the ball to all fields, but has never posted an ISO higher than .072 in any of his three minor league seasons. His bat speed is reportedly only average, also leading to some concern about his ceiling as a hitter. The Pirates do seem to stress contact over power in the minors, and McGuire is still very young. Add in the fact that catchers in general often take a bit longer to develop with the bat and there is plenty of justification to be patient and have faith that hitting improvement may yet come.

If all goes as planned, the past Pirate whose career Reese McGuire will end up most resembling is: Mike LaValliere.

Mike was an excellent defender for many years, and derived much of his value through his glove and strong throwing arm. But "Spanky" also hit well enough from the left side that he was an ideal catcher to use in a platoon situation. LaValliere did not hit for power, but controlled the strike zone extremely well, drawing his fair share of walks despite not being much of a threat to produce a long ball, and rarely struck out. In 879 career game appearances, he produced 16.1 fWAR.


The two new additions to the voting ballot will be Nick Kingham & Cole Tucker. I am a little hesitant to add Tucker, since he didn't actually tie in the nomination process, but rather placed a strong second. However, this seems like the most straightforward solution to adding a second replacement player to the ballot, and I don't think it undermines the validity of our process.

Pitching effectively in AAA last season, Kingham looked as if he was on the cusp of securing an opportunity to make the jump into the Majors until an elbow injury led to him undergoing Tommy John surgery last May. He is currently rehabbing. Tucker, meanwhile, was enjoying a strong second half to his season in West Virginia before also succumbing to an injury, in this case to his shoulder, necessitating surgery on his labrum and costing him 10-12 months of lost developmental time.


With Ramirez and McGuire both removed from the ballot, it figures to be wide open again for the next round.

Once again, the ground rules:

  • Five nominees will appear on the ballot. The prospect who receives the most votes earns the next highest spot on the list, while the four remaining players will move on to the next ballot. A newly nominated player will join them for the next voting round.
  • In order to add a new nomination, BD commenters will nominate a prospect to be put onto the ballot for the next round. After the first nomination for a prospect has been added, votes for that player are placed by giving the original comment a rec (please be careful not to duplicate nominations). The player with the most rec's will secure the nomination for the next voting round.
  • The proper format for a prospect nomination comment should be: "Nomination: Player Name".
  • As this is a crowdsourcing exercise, the more conversation we can generate the better. So please feel free to argue points regarding positives and negatives of nominated players in the comments area.
  • Voting for each period will end concurrently with the publication of the new list of five prospects to be voted upon (mornings of Mondays and Thursdays) and the player with the highest number of votes in the player poll at that time will be slotted into the updated overall community list.
  • Please vote only once in the poll section and rec only one nominee in the comments section.
  • If a prospect who has been added to the community list is subsequently traded, his name will be removed, and all other players will be moved up a slot. If a new and highly regarded prospect is acquired, a special vote will be arranged to determine where that player should rank.

Current List of Prospects to Vote Upon:

Elias Diaz

Position: C | Bats: R | Age 25 | Expected '16 Level: Triple-A | ETA: 2016

2015 Stats (AAA): 363 PA | 8.0 BB% | 12.9 K% | .111 ISO | .271/.330/.382 | 106 wRC+

From list of Top 30 prospects:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 35 | Arm: 65 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

A couple of years ago, Diaz, signed out of Venezuela back in 2008, seemed like an organizational player, maybe a backup at best. Things started clicking in 2013 and he really took off in 2014, with it now seeming like he has a chance to be a big league regular.

Even with the offensive advancements, Diaz's defense is what will get him to the big leagues. With one of the strongest arms of any catcher in the Minor Leagues, Diaz has the potential to control a running game. His all-around game behind the plate has improved, showing good hands and agility. While he's never going to be a big power guy, Diaz has developed a much more consistent approach at the plate, one that allows him to make hard contact on a regular basis. He should be able to continue to hit for a decent average.

With his development, Diaz now looks like he'll be a sold backup at the very least, but the tools might be there to be an everyday catcher, albeit a defensively-minded one.

★ ★ ★

Cole Tucker

Position: SS | Bats: S | Age 19 | Expected '16 Level: Injured | ETA: 2019

2015 Stats (A): 329 PA | 4.9 BB% | 14.9 K% | .083 ISO | .293/.322/.377 | 97 wRC+

From list of Top 30 prospects:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

Tucker seemed to be a bit of a surprise first-round pick when his name was announced, but it turned out several teams were contemplating taking the Arizona high school shortstop at that point in the Draft, so the Pirates took him knowing they wouldn't get the chance at No. 39.

Tucker's ability to stay at shortstop and his plus makeup were the two things that stood out the most, though a torn labrum that required surgery in late August and could keep him out for as long as a year may make some question how his arm will work from the position once he returns. His hands and feet work very well, his above-average speed allows him to have plenty of range and he did have more than enough arm pre-injury to stay at the premium position long-term, even though he's tall for the position. Relatively new to switch-hitting, he's taken to it well, showing an ability to spray line drives to all fields. He's likely not going to be a big power guy, though his frame has room for added strength, but his speed should make him a basestealing threat.

Tucker's instincts and work ethic should allow all of his tools to play up, something that should serve him well once he returns from his injury and begins his climb up the Pirates' ladder again.

★ ★ ★

Alen Hanson

Position: 2B | Bats: S | Age 23 | Expected '16 Level: Triple-A | ETA: 2016

2015 Stats (AAA): 529 PA | 7.0 BB% | 17.2 K% | .124 ISO | .263/.313/.387 | 101 wRC+

From list of Top 30 prospects:

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

The Pirates have had some success in finding players in Latin America for value prices in recent years, thanks to Rene Gayo and staff. Gregory Polanco signed for $150,000, and he's in the big leagues. Hanson joined the organization for just $90,000, and he might not be far behind.

Hanson continues to show a knack for making consistent contact and hitting for a decent average. With good bat speed, Hanson sends line drives to all fields. The switch-hitter has more power than you'd think, given his size, showing good extra-base pop over the past few years, all while being younger than the average hitter at each level. Hanson has excellent speed and will use it on the basepaths. Hanson has the range and athleticism to stay at shortstop, but perhaps not the arm. He spent the final month of 2014 playing second base and played there exclusively in 2015 until he started getting some work at third.

Hanson was benched at times in 2014, reportedly for a lack of hustle, but the offensive upside is hard to ignore. Regardless of the position, Hanson isn't far off from being ready to contribute at the big league level.

★ ★ ★

Nick Kingham

Position: SP | Throws: R | Age 22 | Expected '16 Level: Injured | ETA: 2017

2015 Stats (AAA): 6 GS | 31.1 IP | 9.19 K/9 | 2.01 BB/9 | 3 HR | 4.31 ERA | 3.22 FIP

From list of Top 30 prospects:

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 50

When you invest heavily in the Draft in high school pitching, you never can be sure which of the young arms are going to pan out. It was looking like Kingham, taken in the 4th round of the 2010 Draft but signed to an over-slot deal of $480,000, might have been the first of the young arms targeted by the Pirates to impact the big league rotation until he required Tommy John surgery in May.

When healthy, Kingham is a command and feel type of pitcher, though he does have good stuff. He'll touch 95 mph with his fastball and sits comfortably in the low 90s, commanding the pitch well. He throws his changeup with the same arm speed and good deception. His big curveball gives him a third at least average offering. Kingham does a good job of using his 6-foot-5 frame to his advantage and throws strikes with all three pitches thanks to a clean and repeatable delivery.

Kingham might not have the highest ceiling among pitching prospects, but once he's 100 percent back from surgery, he'll be close to being able to reach it at the big league level.

★ ★ ★

Ke'Bryan Hayes

Position: 3B | Bats: R | Age 19 | Expected '16 Level: Low-A | ETA: 2019

2015 Stats (R): 175 PA | 12.6 BB% | 13.7 K% | .042 ISO | .333/.434/.375 | 150 wRC+

From list of Top 30 prospects:

Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 35 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

The son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes, who was a fourth round pick out of high school, Ke'Bryan beat his dad by three rounds when the Pirates nabbed him at the end of the first round of the 2015 Draft.

Ke'Bryan resembles his father as a player. He's an advanced high school hitter who doesn't try to do too much at the plate. He utilizes an effortless right-handed stroke and focuses on hitting line drives from gap to gap. He can turn on pitches when opponents challenge him inside and should develop average power. He lacks speed on the bases and first-step quickness, but Hayes has worked hard to get into better shape and improve as a defender. He has good instincts, soft hands and a strong arm that should allow him to remain at third base.

★ ★ ★

This poll is now closed. You can vote on the next round here.

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