First Pitch: Encouraging Results From the Lower Levels of the Pirates’ System

I wouldn’t say that winning a minor league championship provides a direct correlation to future MLB success.

I will say that it’s damn well encouraging as anything could be.

The Bradenton Marauders won the Low-A Southeast Title last night, sweeping the Tampa Tarpons in three games for their second league title.

In a season where the Pirates have been destined for a bottom-five finish since Opening Day’s first pitch, it’s refreshing to see some winning taking place in the system.

If you’re looking for further signs of encouragement, consider how this title was won: With prospects.

The prospect-heavy teams in the minors don’t always have the best records. The Marauders didn’t have any of the top ten prospects in the system, but featured a lot of young players with MLB upsides who will likely end up inside the top 50 headed into the 2022 season.

The Marauders’ roster was the youngest team in the Low-A Southeast league. Their hitters averaged 20.3 years of age in a league where the average pitcher was 21.9. Their pitchers were fourth youngest at 21.6, facing an average hitter of 21.3. The offense had the second best OPS in the league, while the pitching had the third best ERA.

The same story has a chance of taking place one level higher. The Greensboro Grasshoppers are currently tied 1-1 in the High-A East championship series, after a great start from Quinn Priester last night.

Like Bradenton, the Greensboro team is one of the youngest in their league. Their hitters are fourth youngest in the league at 22.6 years, going up against pitchers with an average age of 23.3. Their pitchers are the youngest in the league, at 22.1, taking on an average aged hitter of 22.9 years old.

Greensboro is a team that features a lot of top prospects in the system. Aside from Priester, they’ve got 2020 first rounder Nick Gonzales, and shortstop prospect Liover Peguero, who all rank inside the top five of the system. There are a lot of other players on the roster who have MLB upsides.

We knew that the Pirates wouldn’t be good heading into the season. However, the young A-ball teams provided some hope that there was a wave of talent on its way to Pittsburgh.

The success from those A-ball teams is turning hope into encouragement.

Daily Links

**Prospect Watch: Bradenton Wins League Title; Priester Helps Greensboro to Victory

**Didi Gregorius’ Three-Run Blast Propels Phillies to 8-6 Win Over Pirates

**Pirates Recall Miguel Yajure; Place Dillon Peters on 10-Day IL

**Game Recap: Bullpen Torched Again as Pirates Blow Another Lead

**Season Stats for the Pirates 2021 Draft Picks

**This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History, September 24th, Pirates Extend Longest Season Winning Streak

**Card of the Day: 2010 Upper Deck Jeff Karstens

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First Pitch