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MLB Pipeline, Keith Law rerank Pirates prospects, including notes from Jonathan Mayo regarding recent changes

Termarr Johnson is regarded as Pirates top prospect.

2022 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The 2023 season is fastly approaching and various outlets have released their latest prospect updates before minor league camp begins.

MLB Pipeline’s 2023 Top 100 Prospects list includes four Pittsburgh Pirates.

2022 No. 4 overall selection and second baseman Termarr Johnson is the highest-rated Pittsburgh prospect, just outside the top 25 at No. 26 overall.

The final three Buccos bunch together and are separated by six spots. High-rising catcher/second baseman/outfielder Endy Rodriguez checks in at No. 55. 2021 first-overall pick catcher Henry Davis slots at No. 57 and 2019 first-round pick right-hander Quinn Priester three spots later at No. 60 overall.

Johnson surpassed Davis as the highest-ranked prospect. Davis was the 19th-best Minor Leaguer on the last updated list of 2022. Davis, 23, slashed .265/.380/.472 in 59 games spanning four levels due to rehab assignments caused by double-digit hit-by-pitch figures. He hit .260 in 17 Arizona Fall League games including a home run and six runs batted in.

The 18-year-old Johnson moved up three spots from No. 29 overall to close 2022. Considered as containing a 70-grade hit tool and 60-grade power, Johnson hit .222 and totaled the same number of homers (1) and RBI (6) that Davis did in the Fall League. He ranks as the No. 1 second base prospect in the sport, ahead of Michael Busch (LA Dodgers) and Jace Jung (Detroit). 2020 first-round pick Nick Gonzales slid from 5th to 8th overall at the position.

Quinn Priester fell 16 spots from No. 44, no longer a member of the Top 10 right-handed pitchers list. Priester recorded a 3.29 ERA, 234 opponent batting average and 1.21 WHIP in 19 stats primarily with Double-A Altoona. He totaled a 2.87 ERA in 15 stats in Altoona and 3.86 in 9.1 innings following a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Shortstop Liover Peguero (62) and Gonzales (93) both fell out of the Top 100 list from last season. Peguero made his MLB debut on June 18, playing one game before being sent back to Altoona. The main player acquired in the 2019 Starling Marte trade hit .259 with 22 doubles, 10 home runs, 58 RBI and 28 steals in 483 at-bats spanning 121 games. Gonzales was injured to start the year and went on to hit 21 doubles, seven homers, and drive in 27 runs through 74 games. He closed the season strong, totaling 12 hits in his final 16 at-bats.

Rodriguez and Davis sit next to each other on the top catchers list, ranking 6th and 7th, respectively. No Pirate is represented at any other position while the team Top 30 list has not yet been released.

Long-time baseball writer Keith Law included the same four prospects but topped off his list with a fifth. Right-handed pitcher/shortstop Bubba Chandler ranked No. 100 on Law’s list. The two-way player found more success on the mound than in the box pitching in rookie ball and Single-A Bradenton, recording a 2.61 ERA, 28 walks, and 60 strikeouts in 41 innings.

One name absent from both lists is right-hander Luis Ortiz. MLB Pipeline expert Jonathan Mayo answered questions from fans and explained why Ortiz’s rapid accession to the Major Leagues did not warrant a spot on the Top 100.

“I know Pirates fans love Ortiz and his arm is very impressive, but lets pump the breaks a bit on him. Had him under-ranked on Bucs Top 30 last year and that will be corrected. But not 100 [percent[ sure what he is in MLB just yet. And didn’t exactly dominate in MiLB.” - Jonathan Mayo, MLB Pipeline

Ortiz ranked No. 29 on the Pirates 2022 prospects list. He pitched the entirety of 2021 in Single-A Bradenton but climbed the ranks to Pittsburgh quickly where he totaled a 4.50 ERA, .136 average, 1.13 WHIP, 10 walks, and 17 strikeouts in 16 innings.

Injuries and questions about his future behind the plate factored into Davis’ drop on the countdown.

“We try not to let injury impact ranking too much, unless it’s something recurring/could hurt a player long-term. A little worried about much he gets HBP and reports on his defense factored in for sure.” - Jonathan Mayo, MLB Pipeline

Mayo also noted he’s not sure about Endy Rodriguez’s future behind the dish but said “Endy is really going to hit.” Pitchers and catchers report to Bradenton on Feb. 15 to officially begin 2023 Spring Training. The remaining players will report Feb. 20, including the return of Andrew McCutchen.