Looking in on the Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training

The Spring Training Overview: Pittsburgh Pirates

Today, we’re going to be looking at which Pirates prospects have a chance at making the big leagues out of camp, as well as some sleepers that I mentioned in my top 50.  There was big news that came out of Super Bowl Sunday for fantasy players, namely that the Pirates will be shifting Andew McCutchen to right field, Starling Marte to center, and Gregory Polanco to left field.  This outfield realignment could have a significant impact on which prospects could be called up, especially near the top of the list. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Almost Certain to make the Active Roster:

Josh Bell, 1B/RF, 99% to make the team.

As previously noted, Bell is only a prospect by 2 AB this year. He performed quite well down the stretch for the Pirates.  With the aforementioned outfield realignment, Bell stands to get 500+ AB as the strong-side platoon man at 1B, and spelling McCutchen in RF (whether by McCutchen shifting over to CF/LF for a game, or simply taking his spot in the lineup).  In short, he should get the combined playing time of a full-time starter between his backup OF duties and 1B.  He has truly elite zone judgement combined with significant power, and remains a quality starter for your dynasty teams in terms of roster flexibility.  Of note: He recently had a surgery done on his knee.  However, in the first days of Spring Training, it did not appear to impact either his mobility or his hitting.

Projected Stat Line – 525 AB, 16 HR, 71 R, 62 RBI, 3 SB, .283/.370/.411 triple slash

Tyler Webb, LHP, 90% to make the team.

Webb was the Bucs Rule V draft pick, and out of their LHP logjam, he is very likely to stick with the team.  The Pirates are not a franchise in the habit of throwing money and assets away, and they will likely stick with Webb throughout the year.  He is ready for the Show, filling in as a spot starter for NYY’s AAA affiliate last year.  I would not recommend that you draft him in leagues with less than 20 teams, but he could be a nice piece for short stretches in the event of a spot start or significant rotation injuries.

Projected Stat Line – 2 GS, 40 IP, 0 W, 38 K, 10 BB, 2 HLD, 4.12 ERA

Potentially on the Opening Day Roster:

Steven Brault, LHP, 60% to make the team.

Brault, while not being the most talented #5 around, certainly stands a solid chance to win the open competition for the #5 rotation slot.  4 rotation spots appear to be locked down by Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, and Chad Kuhl.  Brault will be in a competition with Drew Hutchison, Tyler Glasnow, and Trevor Williams.  One factor weighing in Brault’s favor is that the 4 “locked-in” pitchers are all right-handers, while Brault is a lefty.  Stay tuned, but if Brault cracks the roster, you can expect him to remain there at least through the Super-2 deadline.

Projected Stat Line – 15 GS, 115 IP, 4 W, 61 K, 31 BB, 4.51 ERA

Tyler Glasnow, RHP, 35% to make the team.

Glasnow, a sleeper prospect from 2013, is now comfortably one of the top 50 prospects in baseball. However, there may be little room for him to make the roster as a starter.  Aside from being a righty, the Pirates reportedly want for him to improve his changeup, as well as his fastball command before committing to giving him rotation innings. It would not be surprising to see him on the roster by the end of the season, whether he’s placed in the bullpen or in the rotation.

Projected Stat Line – 6 GS, 48 IP, 3 W, 51 K, 27 BB, 3.98 ERA

Trevor Williams, RHP, 25% to make the team.

Williams is a longshot at this point to make the team in the #5 gig.  He did show some promise last season coming out of the bullpen, and he could easily serve as a swingman in the bullpen today. The Pirates will probably leave him in the AAA rotation at the beginning of the season, but look for that to change should anybody above him on the depth chart get injured.

Projected Stat Line – 4 GS,  53 IP, 2 W, 41 K, 16 BB, 4.72 ERA

On the Roster Fringes:

Alen Hanson, Utility, 20% to make the team.

Hanson has an interesting situation.  He’s shown great tools at every level, but has been repeatedly criticized for trying to hard to force a promotion.  This has resulted in huge hacks at AAA.  If he isn’t put on the active roster this year, he must be exposed to waivers, where some team would certainly claim him.  For now, I don’t see him as the favorite to take the last utility spot on the bench.  This could change quickly if he does well in spring training, so keep your eye on him as we go through March.

Projected Stat Line – 140 AB, 3 HR, 21 R, 20 RBI, 9 SB, .231/.301/.360 triple slash

Elias Diaz, C, 10% to make the team.

The scouting report on Diaz has been the same for a number of years: He’s great behind the plate, and he does a decent job of hitting.  For now, the Pirates catching situation is stable with Chris Stewart backing up Francisco Cervelli.  Look for Diaz to make some noise if either or both of those men are injured at any point this season.

Projected Stat Line – 56 AB, 0 HR, 8 R, 9 RBI, 0 SB, .243/.307/.350 triple slash


All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a fascinating Spring Training to follow, as there is a serious competition upcoming for the 5th rotation spot, as well as bullpen and utility-man uncertainty.  Stay tuned!


    • Hey Eric,

      So first of all, the Kang situation. He pled guilty to the DUI in Seoul yesterday (2/22). Currently, prosecutors don’t appear to be seeking jail time. So, there are only two impediments to Kang getting regular playing time. Either the MLB could suspend him for conduct, or the sexual assault allegations in Chicago from last year could crop up again.

      If the Pirates have to go into the season without Kang, I suspect that their plan is to roll with David Freese at 3rd, have Josh Bell at 1st, and have Adam Frazier/Alen Hanson play the super-utility/floater role. Moroff is also an option for the Bucs if Kang is out long term.

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