Via Jim Callis, MLB.com posted their final Top-100 prospects list today and three Pirates have made the cut— starting pitcher Mitch Keller (no. 24), third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes (37) and shortstop Oneil Cruz (58).
Keller, the organization’s top prospect at the start of the season, has had a bumpy introduction to the majors. In ten starts, he’s 1-5 with a 7.74 ERA through 43 innings pitched. However, his last start against the Mariners was pretty impressive, going five innings and allowing only two earned runs with seven strikeouts and two walks.
In AAA Indianapolis, Keller started 19 games and went 7-5 with 123 strikeouts over 103.2 innings, posting a 3.56 ERA. His overall grades (20-80 grade) show his fastball being his best asset (65) and has a projected overall rating of 55. Keller has the tools to exceed that expectation.
Pirates fans will likely see Hayes on a semi-regular basis in 2020 over at third base. The 22-year-old first rounder (#32, 2015) has a 60-grade for his hitting tools, throwing arm, and fielding. In 436 at-bats in 2019, Hayes hit .263 with ten home runs and 53 RBIs.
Now that Keller has carved out a spot in the 2020 rotation, Hayes will become the Pirates’ top prospect heading into the offseason. Hayes is still growing both physically and mentally as a player and his skill set demonstrates the potential to make him an elite player at the hot corner.
Cruz is the last Pittsburgh prospect to make the list and is probably two seasons away from becoming a permanent fixture in the big leagues. Coming over from the Dodgers, he started his season in rookie ball then jumped to the FSL at Bradenton where hit hit .301 in 136 at-bats. After 35 games in high-A ball, he moved on to double-A Altoona, where he hit .269. Overall, his OPS in 2019 was a decent .832.
Cruz will develop some power (60 grade) over time and has an elite arm at shortstop. His fielding could use a little work but he’s definitely no slouch defensively. The 20-year old made a big jump from his preseason ranking of 96 to number 58 overall.