Sports Magazine

Prospects By Position

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
I thought before I post my top 30 prospects I'd do a quick overview of the prospects the Pirates have at each position. None of this will be too in depth but it should give you an idea of who are the guys I'll be keeping an eye on in 2017. I'll list everyone by the level they played in 2016 and then mention anyone who was acquired since the end of the season. Quick note I'm only listing players who 2017 will be their age 26 or younger season. I'll start with LHP and post more as I get the time.
fRk: Roger Santana, Randy Jimenez, Angel Martinez, Reymundo Pena
Rk: Domingo Robles, Oddy Nunez, Ronny Agustin, Braeden Ogle, Hector Garcia
Rk+: Ike Schlabach, Nestor Oronel, Jordan Jess
A-: Cam Vieaux
A: Sean Keselica, Daniel Zamora, Taylor Hearn
A+: Brandon Waddell, Sean Keselica
AA: Cody Dickson, Brandon Waddell, Jared LaKind
AAA: Steven Brault
New: Tyler Webb, Jake Brentz
As you may have noticed I've bolded the guys I find the most interesting so I'll discuss them at a little length.
Roger Santana - He is a finesse lefty who just posted an ERA under two while leading the DSL team in innings pitched. He has good control of his pitches and managed to miss quite a few bats this past year in the DSL. On the downside he seemed to struggle this year when his defense made a mistake as he allowed 17 unearned runs (compared to 15 earned runs) and he tops out at just 90 so he will probably need to add some velocity to be effective at higher levels but at just 18 that is still possible.
Braeden Ogle - The Pirates 4th round pick from this past draft Ogle is rather polished for a high school arm as he was consistently hitting 96 early on in his senior season (he settled in at 92-93 later on) and he possess a solid curve. His command is fine for a prep arm but that of course means he still has a good bit of work to do in that area and is other pitches including a slider and a change up need to develop. There is a good bit of upside with Ogle as he has one of the two highest ceilings among all Pirates left handed pitching prospects.
Hector Garcia - A favorite of mine Garcia was establishing himself as a good prospect after a solid 2014 and great start to 2015 but then the Tommy John bug bit him and its been a slow climb back. He got into a bit of action in rookie ball last year and looked great in the limited sample. He has a solid arsenal of pitches including a low 90s fastball, a curve and a change but he does need to improve his control to be successful as he moves up. This upcoming season will be a good test to see if he pick up where he left off before the injury.
Ike Schlabach - A tall projectable prep arm taken in the 2015 draft Schlabach hasn't seen the numbers you'd like to see from him but there is certainly upside here as he has just recently turned 20. He is probably the rawest pitcher I have singled out on the list and has a long ways to go but there is potential here.
Cam Vieaux - This year's 6th round pick Vieaux doesn't have outstanding stuff but gets by on good command of his pitches. He has a fastball that sits right around 90 and compliments it with a decent change and curve. There isn't much upside here and he is older than you typical college player (next year will be his age 23 season) but he has a relatively high floor and could turn into a decent back end starter.
Taylor Hearn - The prospect the Pirates got back in the Melancon trade Hearn has a big arm and can touch 100 though he is usually in the 94-95 range maxing out at around 97. His secondary pitches need some work and his control while better than most prospects who throw as hard as he does still needs to be ironed out. THe Pirates are going to try and develop Hearn as a starter and if he sticks there he is the other left handed pitcher (besides Ogle) who has a high ceiling of a front of the rotation arm. I have him as one of the Pirates top two left handed pitching prospects though I haven't decided if he is first or second yet.
Brandon Waddell - Here we have kind of the one year later version of VIeaux as Waddell was the Pirates 5th round draft pick in 2015. His stuff is even almost identical with a low 90s fastball, a change up and a curve (though its more of a slurve) and he gets by with good command of his pitches. This past season he dominated A+ and received one of the quickest promotions to AA the current Pirates regime has ever given to a prospect (it was the quickest if you don't count Jacob Stallings emergency fill in). There isn't a ton of upside here but he looks like he could develop into a useful back end starter in the mold of Jeff Locke (which isn't the negative thing a lot of you may think it is).

Cody Dickson -
Taken in the 4th round of the 2014 draft the immediate reaction may be to claim that Dickson was that drafts version of Waddell or Vieaux but that would be inaccurate. Dickson has plus stuff and can throw in the mid 90s and at the time he was drafted he had the upside of a mid rotation starter if he could iron out his control issues. Despite the control problems Dickson's numbers have never been bad because his stuff consistently bails him out of trouble. Personally I think the ship has sailed on him as a starter but I think if the Pirates choose to transition him from relief there is a chance he could develop into a Justin Wilson type relief pitcher.
Jared LaKind - Drafted in 2010 as a 1B LaKind spent his first three professional seasons struggling to hit short season pitching and not even playing a particularly good 1B. Then in 2013 the Pirates converted him to a pitcher in a desperation attempt to salvage something out of his 400K bonus and he did ok for someone who was away from pitching the last 3 years. He continued to be just fine but nothing great in 2014-15 and it looked like he was just an organizational arm but then to start 2016 the Pirates surprisingly pushed him to AA (he had only 24 innings at A ball) and the team's faith in him paid off as he posted very strong numbers and now looks like a legitimate middle releif pitching prospect.
Steve Brault - Acquired in the Travis Snider trade Brault quickly showed what the Pirates saw in him by posting very good numbers in A+ and AA in 2015. He followed that up with a good showing in AAA and his major league debut in 2016. Brault is essentially the realization of what pitchers like Waddell and Vieaux could become as he is a lefty with average stuff who manages to succeed thanks to good control of his pitches. There isn't a lot of upside here but the floor is incredibly high which is why I have him ranked right with Hearn as one of the Pirates two best left handed pitching prospects.
Tyler Webb - Taken from the Yankees in the Rule V draft this offseason Webb is a major league ready bullpen arm who has posted good numbers at AAA the last two seasons. He has been very tough on left handed batters through his career and while righties haven't crushed him they have hit well enough against him that it likely limits him to just a middle releif guy instead of a back end option but the fact he is ready now makes him a solid prospect.
Jake Brentz - Acquired from the Mariners for Arquimedes Caminero Brentz is the hardest throwing left hander in the Pirates system just barely eclipsing Hearn in that regard. What he doesn't have and why he is more of a project instead of a prospect at this stage is much control of his pitches. He has consistently posted high walk rates throughout his minor league career but also of course has the stuff to miss a lot of bats. He is a high risk/reward proposition but a left handed arm like his is easy to dream on as either a force in the rotation or a guy slamming the door late in games.

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