In the latest honor bestowed on their player development program, the Bucs have six players on MLB.com’s annual Top 100 prospects list, which was unveiled Thursday night on MLB Network.
Although none of the Pirates’ promising youngsters made the top 12, outfielder Gregory Polanco (13th) and right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon (16th) represented the organization among the game’s elite minor-league talents. Both Polanco and Taillon project to start the 2014 season at Triple-A Indianapolis and could feasibly make their Pittsburgh debuts this summer.
Fireballing righty Tyler Glasnow has at least another year of development in the minors ahead of him, but his breakout 2013 in Class-A ball was enough to propel him to No. 27 on MLB.com’s listing. Taillon and Glasnow were fifth and 11th, respectively, among the 58 pitchers ranked.
Outfielder Austin Meadows impressed enough scouts and observers last year to make the list at No. 45, despite being just 18 years old. Meadows is the Pirates’ lone 2013 draft pick to reach the top 100; upon signing his first pro contract, he tore up the rookie Gulf Coast League and earned a promotion to Low-A Jamestown.
Alen Hanson also moved up a level last summer, jumping from High-A Bradenton to Double-A Altoona after flashing more of his trademark power at shortstop. The 21-year-old Dominican Republic native comes in at No. 67, followed by fellow 1992-born prospect Josh Bell, who rounds out the Bucco six at No. 74.
Bell, an outfielder who has battled injuries in each of his first two minor-league seasons, posted an .806 OPS in 119 games for the Class-A West Virginia Power in 2013. The Dallas product should start the spring with High-A Bradenton.
The Pirates’ six prospects on MLB.com’s list are the fourth-most, with the Red Sox (nine), Astros (seven) and Cubs (seven) boasting more. According to a weighted scoring system that awards 100 points for the No. 1 spot, 99 for No. 2 and so on, Pittsburgh comes in fourth with 364 points.
In a reminder of the volatility of such rankings, Glasnow wasn’t even listed by MLB.com last winter, while Polanco made one of the biggest leaps from year to year, rising 52 places from No. 65.