There are two basic ways to measure the strength of an agricultural system. That might be overly simplistic, but for the most part there are elite-level perspectives to look at and there’s depth to consider.
That might bring little comfort right now to the Pittsburgh Pirates faithful after being the No. 1 draft pick and finishing with more than 100 losses at the big league level in 2021. But good things are brewing on the farm.
There’s definitely elite-level talent out there, with half a dozen players on this year’s Top 100 list. The draft provided half of that group, with the final three first-round picks — Quinn Priester (2019), Nick Gonzales (2020) and, of course, that No. 1 pick in Henry Davis — all highly ranked. The Pirates have three players in the top 26 alone, with Oneil Cruz joining Gonzales and Davis.
Beyond the big names, there is talent at all levels as the Pirates hope to build a sustainable system that creates competition and continues to rise. GM Ben Cherington and Co. continues to use all avenues of talent acquisition. This year’s Top 30 continues to be heavily traded, with 13 players in total coming in via trade art. All but two have been brought in since Cherington took over.
Here’s a look at the Pirates’ top prospects:
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2021 pre-season roster to the 2022 pre-season roster.
Jump: Matt Fraizer, DE (2021: NR | 2022: 10)
All Fraizer did in his first full season of pro ball was put up a .306/.388/.552 slash line with 23 homers and 15 interceptions as he went from High-A to Double-A in 2021. He has more speed and a ton of raw power and could still learn to tap into his considerable tools.
To fall: Brennan Malone, RHP (2021: 8 | 2022: NR)
Acquired as part of the Starling Marte deal with D-backs, Malone offers arm strength and athleticism on the mound, but struggles to be consistent and get reps. He’s only gone 14 innings in 2021 and needs innings to work on his side tricks and command. The good news is that he’s only 21 and has time to figure it out.
Players are rated on a scale of 20-80 for future tools – 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average, and 70 at 80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same rank.
Hit: 65 – Nick Gonzales
Power: 60 — Henry Davis (Mason Martin)
Race: 70 – Lonnie White Jr. (Ji-Hwan Bae)
Arms: 70 — Oneil Cruz (Henry Davis, Bubba Chandler)
Defense: 60 — Jared Triolo (Travis Swaggerty, Lonnie White Jr.)
Fastball: 70 — Kyle Nicolas
Curveball: 60 — Michael Burrows (Quinn Priester)
Cursor: 55 – Roansy Contreras (Anthony Solometo, Jared Jones, Carmen Mlodzinski, Kyle Nicolas)
Change: 55 – Michael Yajure (Roansy Contreras, Carmen Mlodzinski)
Control: 55 — Michael Yajure (Anthony Solometo)
How they were built
Draft: 14 | Internationals: 3 | Trade: 13
Breakdown by ETA
2022: 14 | 2023: 7 | 2024: 6 | 2025: 3
Breakdown by position
C: 2 | 1B:1 | 2B: 5 | 3B: 1 | SS: 3 | FROM: 8 | HPR: 9 | HPL: 1