Reasonable people can disagree, and two prominent baseball media giants have some slight differences on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ prospect pool.
Still, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus have one thing common: they believe the Bucs’ minor-league system to be among the strongest in baseball.
A few days after MLB.com’s team of experts listed six Pirates draft picks among their top 100 prospects, BP put seven Pittsburgh hopefuls on its list of 101 promising youngsters.
The annual BP listing, long considered the definitive scouting report for the minors’ best and brightest, had five selections in common with MLB.com: Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco, Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Josh Bell. While BP doesn’t have shortstop Alen Hanson in its top 101, it included catcher Reese McGuire (No. 59) and right-handed pitcher Nick Kingham (No. 80) where MLB.com did not.
McGuire, one of the youngest players on the list at 19, is considered the fifth-best catching prospect in the minors according to BP. Drafted in the first round last summer along with center fielder Meadows, McGuire earned a promotion to Low-A Jamestown from the Pirates’ rookie league team at the end of the 2013 season.
The Washington state native is considered to have above-average talent at the traditional “five tools” by BP. McGuire is deemed to have 60 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale in running, defense and hitting for average. He gets a 50-plus rating in running, a rare attribute behind the plate, and a 50 in the power category.
Kingham, a 22-year-old who was drafted in 2010, has been more of a slow burn in the Pirates’ system, but he rose near the top of the organization’s pitching depth chart with a superb 2013. After an midseason bump from High-A Bradenton to Double-A Altoona, Kingham limited Eastern League opponents to a .257/.329/.384 line while posting a 2.70 ERA in 14 appearances.
The 6-foot-5 Nevadan gets a 60 grade for his fastball and curveball, with his changeup also getting plaudits as a potential “plus” offering.
On the team level, whereas the Pirates tied for the fourth-most prospects on MLB.com’s ranking, the Bucs were only outdone by the Twins on the BP list. Led by the first-overall talents of Byron Buxton, Minnesota boasts eight prospects among the best 101, with Pittsburgh, Texas, Kansas City and the Cubs getting seven mentions apiece.
Conversely, BP has Taillon three spots lower than MLB.com and Polanco 11 places back of his No. 13 ranking on MLB.com. Glasnow (No. 42 vs. 27), Meadows (No. 89 vs. 45) and Bell (No. 77 vs. 74) were also regarded a bit lower by BP, which will have full reviews on all of its top 101 prospects available in its annual paperback publication.