MLB Pipeline has revealed its updated Top 100 prospect rankings and concluded the yearly updated organizational Top 30 lists on Monday.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are widely represented on the national stage, boosting six of the best 100 prospects and three in the top 26. Pittsburgh is tied with Seattle and Miami for the best representation of young talent to crack the rankings.
2020 first-round pick Nick Gonzales begins the countdown as the No. 20 overall prospect. The right-handed-hitting second baseman found lightning in his bat to conclude the 2021 season playing for High-A Greensboro.
Nick Gonzales hit THREE home runs yesterday. pic.twitter.com/wKYIdOq4P3— Young Bucs (@YoungBucsPIT) August 30, 2021
Catcher Henry Davis (24) and shortstop Oneil Cruz (26) conclude the run of three Pirates in seven spots before a drop out of the top 50 to find the Bucs’ first pitcher represented.
Davis and Cruz enter the status as one of baseball’s best from different paths.
The first pick in last year’s draft and a former Louisville standout, Davis mashed Rookie League and High-A pitching in only a 26-game sample size spanning 26 at-bats. He was then shut down for the remainder of the season due to an oblique injury.
Cruz was a 2015 international signing by the Dodgers and traded to Pittsburgh in the 2017 trade deadline deal headlined by left-hander Tony Watson. The 6’7” shortstop has immense power and has begun to experiment defensively in the outfield this spring. Cruz debuted for the Pirates during the final series of the season and recorded three hits, including a home run, with three RBI in nine at-bats. The most MLB ready of the six members, Cruz could crack the opening day lineup but would not be surprising to see begin in Indianapolis for defensive reasons and other factors.
Right-hander Quinn Priester checks in at No. 54 following a 3.04 ERA in 20 High-A starts. Priester walked 39 and allowed a .225 opposing batting average while striking out 98 batters in 97 ⅔ innings pitched.
Fellow righty starter Roansy Contreras also made his major league debut during the last week of 2021, pitching three innings of scoreless ball. Acquired from the New York Yankees in the Jameson Taillon deal, Contreras has a strong four-pitch mix dependent on his fastball. He gained additional experience during the 2021 Arizona Fall League and has seen an uptick in velocity hovering at 98 mph.
Shortstop Liover Peguero rounds out the Pirates’ contributions to the countdown at No. 79. Also a Pirate farmhand through the trade circuit, dealt from Arizona in part for Starling Marte, Peguero was the emotional heartbeat for a Greensboro team that performed the best as any in the organization. The Bradenton Mauraders may have won a championship but the Grasshoppers were the most entertaining and successful with Gonzales, Priester, Peguero, and others.
The highlight of Pittsburgh’s Top 30 prospects is the six major talents, rounded out by catcher/outfielder Endy Rodriguez, left-handed pitcher Anthony Solometo, right-hander/shortstop Bubba Chandler, and outfielder Matt Frazier in the top 10.
Prospect expert Jonathan Mayo said the team has both elite-level prospects and quality depth for a revamped organization under Ben Cherington’s direction.
Frazier made the highest jump from out of the Top 30 to No. 10 in one season. The 23-year-old lefty batter slashed .306/.388/.552 and complied 23 home runs between Greensboro and Altoona.
Infielder Diego Castillo, also a member of the Taillon deal, is someone to keep a close eye on to begin the year with Derek Shelton molding the middle infield with numerous complex options.
Former 2018 10th-overall pick Travis Swaggerty missed all but 12 games last year before season-ending surgery and now will look to make an impact with Bryan Reynolds the only clear-cut regular.
MLB Pipeline will release its best farm systems by organization this week.
MLB Pipeline released the new Pirates Top 30:— Austin Bechtold (@AustinRBechtold) March 23, 2022
7. E. Rodriguez