First Pitch: Can the Pirates Develop Their Prospects This Time Around?

For the last two weeks, I’ve been breaking down each position on the Pirates, looking at the recent history of the position, and what to project going forward. The goal is to figure out what the Pirates have in the majors and minors, and project out when they appear to have a shot at contending.

This is a Major League team that is obviously far from being a contender, as shown by their last place finish in 2020. As an organization, they might not be far from that goal.

The Pirates don’t have the talent in the majors right now to be a winning team. They don’t even have the talent to allow for a few trades or free agent moves to put them within reach. They’re going to need help from within before they get to that point.

Fortunately, they’ve got a shot at getting a lot of help.

The future infield profiles as Ke’Bryan Hayes at third, Liover Peguero at short, and Nick Gonzales at second. All three can give you above-average production from their position, and all three have a shot at being impact players. Oneil Cruz could be in this infield mix as well, although I’ve got him profiled for the outfield. We’ll be covering first base starting today, which will add Mason Martin to the future infield mix as another potential average or better starter.

The rotation has some promise, with a lot of hard throwing prospects making their way up through the lower levels. Quinn Priester, Tahnaj Thomas, Brennan Malone, and Cody Bolton give the Pirates some future pitching to keep an eye on.

We’ll be going through the corner outfield positions this week as well. The early preview is that this is another area where the Pirates could use improvements, as they’re not as strong here as they are in the infield.

I kind of went for a theme here.

I covered the rotation, center field, and catcher first, because that’s where I think the Pirates have to be strong in order to win in the future.

I followed with third base, shortstop, and second base because I project that to be the strength of the team in the future, with the chance for impact production likely coming from these three positions, versus any other spot in the system.

We’re going to finish up with the positions that are more question marks. First base, corner outfield, the bullpen, and the bench. This week we will cover the positions. Next week will be the bullpen and bench, looking at the depth of the team.

That said, projecting out the strongest and weakest positions is merely a projection in a moment in time.

Prospects aren’t guaranteed, and we don’t know how well this front office will develop prospects. I’ve been encouraged by what I’ve seen so far, as they’re taking a much different approach than the last group, prioritizing trends that are more in line with some of the smartest teams in baseball right now. So while there’s hope at some positions, it’s all based on the idea that this front office can develop prospects to their ceiling, or close enough to it to contend.

What we know right now is that the Pirates have hope. They’ve got the prospects who could lead to impact production at multiple positions. They’ve got some young MLB players who those prospects can join. Perhaps they’ll be able to add to this group from the outside down the line, further increasing their chances of returning to the playoffs in the future.

The 2020 Prospect Guide returns to print for our tenth¬† we are releasing three variant covers, featuring Mitch Keller and Ke’Bryan Hayes. Visit our shop page to order these extremely limited items!


First Pitch