Keith Law has finished his rankings of all the farm systems with his list of the top ten. He puts the Pirates fourth, behind the Braves, Yankees and Padres, and ahead of the Dodgers. (It’s a subscription article, but you can read his writeups on the top five teams for free.)
Law’s ranking of the Pirates is higher than most sources would put them. It probably results in large part from his interest in Kevin Newman and Ke’Bryan Hayes; Law was a fan of the Pirates’ 2015 draft. His top five from last year — Newman, Hayes, Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Josh Bell — are all still “prospects” if you use Rookie-of-the-Year eligibility as a guide, and three of them have enhanced their stock quite a bit. (Law didn’t rank Jameson Taillon highly a year ago.) Adding to the top group now is Mitch Keller. Law also notes the returns of Cole Tucker and Nick Kingham, and the addition of relief prospects at the upper levels, which I assume primarily refers to Edgar Santana and Dovydas Neverauskas.
Law adds that the system is not deep, partly due to the 2016 draft, which he didn’t like. That’s partly also due to the departures of “second-tier prospects” Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire in what Law flatly characterizes as an exchange for salary relief. The lack of depth is something I wrote about not long ago. It seems to me to spring from the team’s refusal to compete financially in the international arena and their poor track record with college hitters. On the other hand, I’m a little more hopeful than Law about the 2016 draft, maybe unrealistically so. That’s mainly due to prep pitches like Braeden Ogle and Max Kranick, which of course is a tough horse to bet on.