Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.
All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.
Other Prospects of Note
Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.
Rivero has advanced contact skills and stands this group’s best chance of staying in center. Basabe signed for $450,000 in 2017 and had a solid first year in pro ball. His tools all hover around average right now and he only has modest physical projection, but he has one of the prettier left-handed swings from his signing class and has natural feel for lifting the ball. Once his lower half gets more involved in his swing, he could start hitting for big in-game power. Campana was a $500,000 signee in 2018. He has a strong, Derek Dietrich-ish frame, average offensive tools, and might need to move to left due to arm strength. A 30th round high schooler from New Jersey who signed for $50,000, Herman hit .340/.435/.489 in the GCL, and had nearly as many walks as strikeouts. He’s just 6-foot tall but has a broad-shouldered frame with some room for more mass and there’s already some pop here. His arm is plus.
A 17th rounder in 2017, Martin’s incredible foray into pro ball — .307/.457/.630 — forced re-evaluation. He has powerful, explosive hands and big raw power, but also has a maxed-out, 6-foot frame, only profiles at first base, and posted a 33% strikeout rate in 2018. He doesn’t turn 20 until next June and has a chance to be a three-true-outcome first baseman but there’s no margin for error on the bat because he’s at the bottom of the defensive spectrum. Davis has easy plus raw power from the left side but is a LF/DH-only defender and he struck out a ton in college. Lantigua has a well-rounded, vanilla toolset and has performed up through the NYPL.
Stafford has big, strength-driven power but hasn’t improved enough behind the plate. He does have plus makeup and is a good athlete for his size, so perhaps that defensive will still come. Inoa is a strong, early-career performer with a strong hit tool, but he might not catch.
New Middle Infielders
Connor Kaiser, SS
Luis Tejada, SS
Juan Jerez, 2B
Orlando Chivilli, SS
Alexander Mojica, 3B
Kaiser (3rd round in 2018 from Vanderbilt) has similarities to Pirates 2008 3rd rounder Jordy Mercer as a bigger college shortstop without big offensive impact; Kaiser was scorching hot in the college postseason but needs to dial in his swing and approach. Tejada ($500,000) is built like Jeter Downs, and has above-average hands and some pull-side pop. He has the best combination of physicality and defensive ability of this group. It’s possible Jerez ($380,000) grows into enough arm strength to play the left side of the infield, but for now he has a 40 arm and fits better at second base. He’s currently very small but has a square, long-limbed frame (like a scaled-down Jed Lowrie) that has room for plenty of mass, and he can already swing it fairly well for a 135-pound kid. Chivilli ($350,000) is similar but has less room on the frame. Mojica ($350,000) is a thicker, 3B-only prospect with present pop.
Escobar is a converted outfielder who has only been pitching for a few months. He’s been up to 95 mph from the left side and shown great changeup feel right away. His breaking ball is fringy but plays up a bit against lefties because he hides the ball well. Mateo and German throw in the upper-90s but each is quite wild. Maldonado is a strong-bodied 19-year-old who sits 91-95 and has average secondaries. Dicent sits 91-93, touches 96, and has an average slider.
19-year-old Dante Mendoza was a 12th round high school draftee in 2017 who spent 2018 in the AZL, with Cleveland. Pittsburgh acquired him in the Erik Gonzalez/Jordan Luplow deal. At 6-foot-5, Mendoza joins a system full of huge-framed pitching prospects. He has been up to 93 but sits 87-90 with the fastball and has an advanced changeup and breaking ball. There’s a strong possibility that Mendoza’s stuff ticks up as his body matures and he turns into a good big league pitcher of some kind, realistically in the back of a rotation. Ramos has less present stuff — he was 87-90 and touching 92 in the fall, which is actually down a bit from the previous fall — but more physical projection as he’s an ultra-wiry 6-foot-5. He has some feel for a slow, loopy curveball and began using a slider/cutter in the upper-70s last year. He turned 18 on Halloween 2018 and is a long-term developmental project.
After the Chris Archer trade, the Pirates appear as if they’re ready to compete for the next few seasons, so getting pieces from the farm system who will play for the league minimum will help create an increased margin for error in the team’s payroll. Pittsburgh has mostly spent in the middle bonus tier (under $1 million) of the international market and has gotten solid early results on their most recent signings. In the draft, they have a type with respect to pitchers, leaning heavily toward big players with projectable velocity (extension is a big part of that) and breaking ball spin rate. They’re a little harder to pin down when it comes to hitters, and their approach to the international market and amateur pitching is where a progressive leaning is particularly evident.
There are a number of hitters, especially at the top of this list, who, as noted in their reports, are in the midst of a swing change. That introduces some variance to the profiles of prospects whose stat lines wouldn’t seem to suggest it, which is a good thing. Variance is typically read as risk when it comes to prospects, and so more of it is bad. That’s often true, but variance can also mean a wide range of outcomes, with Cole Tucker a classic example of a high floor prospect who also has a high ceiling if it all breaks right.