Today I woke up to a few memories of Opening Day.
In 2016, I was in Pittsburgh on this day, preparing for the opener. A year later, I was in Boston for the same thing.
Three years after that Boston trip, there’s no baseball to be played. As a result, we’re running simulations this year using Out of the Park Baseball. We’ve been running a daily simulation of the 2020 season. The Pirates won their home opener yesterday, thanks in part to a key first MLB hit by third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes.
Mitch Keller starts the next game of the 2020 simulation, which takes place on Saturday at 1:35 PM EST. You’ll be able to follow Keller, Hayes, and all of the other 2020 Pirates on a daily basis by following our 2020 simulation (which will soon be located on our new Pirates site, No Quarter).
The 2020 Pirates are off today. There is no actual Opening Day to attend, like there was in 2016 and 2017. So let’s speed ahead to the year 2025.
Along with our daily simulation of the 2020 season, we’ll also be doing a simulation of the 2025 season. This simulation will run on Pirates Prospects all year, and is aimed at getting a look into the potential of guys currently in the system in real life.
To run this simulation, I had to simulate the 2020-2024 seasons. You can read about what happened in each season below.
2020 (This is separate from our daily 2020 simulation)
Fast forward five years today to April 3, 2025. The Pirates are off to a 4-2 start on the season, sitting atop the NL Central.
Their best players are Liover Peguero (60 overall), Mitch Keller (55), Blake Weiman (55), Ke’Bryan Hayes (50), and Travis Swaggerty (50).
I’ll only be focusing on players who are current members of the Pirates. The current simulation has first baseman Brett Baty as the best player on the Pirates (acquired in the Joe Musgrove trade after the 2022 season), and Brendan McKay as the top starter (acquired for Miguel Sano, which is a story that can be found in the 2023-2024 recaps). Those guys won’t be tracked this year.
Likewise, anyone who isn’t a member of the Pirates in the 2025 simulation, but is a member of the real life Pirates, will be tracked all year.
Confusing? All you really need to know is we’ll have a daily article on Pirates Prospects looking at the simulated player results from 2025.
Before we begin with the first report tomorrow, let’s get you caught up on the state of the Pirates’ system in 2025. If there’s any player we didn’t mention, ask about him in the comments.
Here are our top 20 prospects, per the 2020 Prospect Guide. This is where their career is at, heading into the 2025 season.
Mitch Keller: In his MLB career so far, Keller has a 4.02 ERA in 768 innings, with a 9.3 K/9 and a 3.8 BB/9. Four of his last five seasons have seen an ERA under 3.80, so the career numbers are a bit inflated. He enters the 2025 season with a 55 overall grade, and the number two starter in the Pirates’ rotation.
Ke’Bryan Hayes: Hayes made his MLB debut in 2021, and was named NL Rookie of the Year after hitting for an .822 OPS and posting a 5.2 WAR. He’s been around a 3.5 WAR player since that point, with strong defense and a career .759 OPS.
Oneil Cruz: After struggling to get out of Double-A, the Pirates placed Cruz on waivers following the 2023 season. He was claimed by the Reds, and moved to Triple-A in 2024, where he had a .926 OPS. He made the majors by the end of the year, hitting .324/.351/.647 in 37 plate appearances. He will start the 2025 season with their Triple-A team.
Liover Peguero: Peguero has been the starting shortstop for the last two seasons. He hasn’t hit much, with a .656 OPS on his career. He does have very strong defense, typically adding a full win or more to his yearly value. He’s a 60 overall player, with 65 upside. He’s a 70 grade defender at shortstop, with near-elite infield range, a 60 arm, and 60 fielding skills. He’s a line drive hitter with plus speed, stealing, and base running skills. He’ll be in his age 24 season in 2025.
Cody Bolton: Bolton has pitched 89 innings in his MLB career, mostly in relief. He has a 3.94 ERA, a 9.1 K/9, and a 3.1 BB/9. In his longest season, he had a 5.40 ERA in relief. He’s currently in the Astros’ farm system as bullpen depth.
Tahnaj Thomas: Thomas has struggled to make it above A-ball. He finally made it to Altoona in 2024 and had a 3.98 ERA in 95 innings. He became a free agent and signed with the Mets, where he’s in Double-A this year.
Quinn Priester: Made his MLB debut in 2023, with a 4.60 ERA in 29.1 innings, working mostly as a starter. Had a 5.29 ERA in 66.1 innings in 2024, mostly as a reliever. Enters the 2025 season as the number four starter. Has a 45 overall grade and 55 upside.
Brennan Malone: Reached Double-A by the end of the 2024 season. He’s a 45 overall reliever with 55 upside. He’ll be the closer in Indianapolis to start the 2025 season, and should provide the Pirates with bullpen depth in the majors throughout the year.
Ji-Hwan Bae: After a few years of struggling, the offense started to click for Bae in 2024. He had an .813 OPS in 114 plate appearances with Altoona, and an .803 OPS in 467 plate appearances with Indianapolis. He’ll start back in Triple-A this year, turning 26 at the end of July. His upside at this point is a bench player, where he could add value with 70 speed and running grades.
Braxton Ashcraft: Ashcraft has pitched 80 innings in the majors so far, with a 4.84 ERA and an 85:27 K/BB. He’s currently in the Dodgers’ minor league system. He’s a 40 overall starter.
Michael Burrows: Was released in June 2024 and hasn’t signed elsewhere. Spent most of his career in A-ball, but reached Double-A for 14 combined innings over two seasons.
Travis Swaggerty: Has a career .248/.338/.370 line across 1598 plate appearances in three seasons in the majors. He’s been around a 2.5 WAR center fielder in each of the last two seasons. This will be his age 27/28 season. He’s a 50 overall center fielder.
JT Brubaker: He’s currently in the Red Sox organization, working as bullpen depth out of Triple-A. Has a 2.70 ERA in 10 innings in the majors, all coming with Boston.
Will Craig: The Pirates waived Craig after the 2023 season, and he was claimed off waivers by the Tigers. He was a starter in the majors in 2024, with a .265/.341/.498 line and a 2.5 WAR. The Tigers traded him to Arizona for two prospects. He’s in his age 30 season and grades as a 50 overall first baseman.
Nick Mears: Mears has bounced around, and is currently in the Phillies’ minor league system. He has a career 3.18 ERA in 11.1 innings in the majors, but had a 4.91 ERA in 7.1 innings with the Astros last year.
Jared Oliva: Oliva had a .932 OPS in 44 plate appearances in the majors 2023. That all came with the Twins. He didn’t return to the majors in 2024. He’s now with the Rangers, and on their Opening Day roster. He’s got a 40 overall grade.
Mason Martin: He’ll start the 2025 season with Indianapolis, where he had a .242/.359/.400 line with 16 homers in 568 plate appearances last year. He’ll be turning 26 this year, and grades as a 45 overall first baseman.
Calvin Mitchell: He made his MLB debut in 2024, hitting .265/.375/.471 in 40 plate appearances, with two homers. Mitchell will start the 2025 season injured, after a strained anterior cruciate ligament injury that will put him out for 3-4 weeks at the start of the year. He’s got a 45 overall grade.
Sammy Siani: Made his MLB debut in 2024, hitting .329/.387/.388 in 93 plate appearances. He returns to the majors in 2025 for his age 24 season. He’ll be the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter most of the time. Grades as an above-average defender in center field. Has 70 grade speed and running skills. He’s a 45 overall guy, with the same upside.
Travis MacGregor: He’s currently with the Red Sox in Triple-A. Had a 3.36 ERA in 85.2 innings last year in his first run through the level. He’s in his age 27 season.
**Current Pirates (real life) who are in Pittsburgh to start the 2025 season (in the sim, obviously):
Sammy Siani (Starting CF)
Liover Peguero (Starting SS)
Bryan Reynolds (Starting LF)
Ke’Bryan Hayes (Starting 3B)
Stephen Alemais (Starting 2B)
Adam Frazier (Bench)
Dylan Busby (Bench)
Travis Swaggerty (Bench)
Mitch Keller (Rotation)
Quinn Priester (Rotation)
Steven Brault (Long Relief)
Blake Cederlind (Middle Relief)
Cristopher Cruz (Middle Relief)
Blake Weiman (Closer)
**The comments are open for any questions you have about any player who is currently in the system.