Pittsburgh Pirates 2021 Midseason Top 50 Prospects

Pirates Top 50 design by @designsbypack on Twitter

Despite the fact the Pirates graduated Ke’Bryan Hayes, the top prospect from the January 2021 preseason Pirates Top 50, as well as J.T. Brubaker (12), Wil Crowe (23) and Luis Oviedo (27), the Pirates midseason Top 50 is much stronger than the January list. The Pirates’ front office took full advantage of having the most money to spend in the 2021 MLB Draft and brought in the top college hitter in Henry Davis (C) and three top high school prospects, Anthony Solometo (LHP), Lonnie White, Jr. (OF) and Bubba Chandler (RHP/SS). The Pirates also added some very interesting prospects at the trade deadline.

Like many other teams, the Pirates face tough decisions regarding who to protect from the Rule 5 Draft in December. Players like Liover Peguero, Cody Bolton, Travis Swaggerty, Eddy Yean, Mason Martin, Calvin Mitchell, Santiago Florez, Hoy Park, Diego Castillo, Jack Suwinski, and Canaan Smith-Njigba must all be added to the 40-man roster to avoid exposure to the Rule 5 Draft. Given the depth in this system, the Pirates cannot protect every worthy prospect.


Writing this Pirates midseason Top 50 Prospects for Prospects1500 was fun but also a real challenge. The Pirates may have a bad major league team but they have one of the strongest minor league systems top to bottom. Frankly, it was hard to stop at 50 prospects. I could make an argument for at least 15-20 more players for this Top 50 list. Enjoy this list and let me hear what you think.

Prospects1500 Tiers
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years.
Tier 2: Players with an above-average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor.
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor.
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have a high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g., middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys).
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster.

Tier 1

1. Oneil Cruz, SS (January rank #3)
Age: 22
Current level: AA
Cruz is showing power, speed, and striking out less and is likely to get reps in the OF soon as well.

2. Nick Gonzales, 2B (January rank #2)
Age: 22
Current level: High-A
Gonzales missed time with a hand injury but has shown power and solid defense at 2B but needs to strike out less in the second half of the season.

3. Henry Davis, C (January rank N/A)
Age: 21
Current level: Rookie (FCL)
Davis was the 1st pick of the 2021 MLB draft and brings a strong hit tool and plus power to the Pirates but who will also have to work on improving catching skills to stick there.

4. Quinn Priester, RHP (January rank #4)
Age: 20
Current level: High-A
Priester has really come on strong after a tough start to the season in High-A. Played in the 2021 Futures Game.

Tier 2

5. Liover Peguero, SS (January rank #5)
Age: 20
Current level: High-A
Though a bit young for the level, Peguero is having a very good season in High-A showing power, speed and a solid OBP.

6. Roansy Contreras, RHP (Yankees’ January rank #19)
Age: 21
Current level: AA
Contreras is destroying AA with a sub 2.00 ERA and a 12.8 K/9 but unfortunately has missed time due to a minor arm injury.

7. Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP (January rank #16)
Age: 22
Current level: High-A
Mlodzinski has been excellent in his first full season with a 2.63 ERA and 11.85 K/9 in Greensboro.

8. Anthony Solometo, LHP (January rank N/A)
Age: 18
Current level: Rookie (FCL)
Solometo was drafted in the 2nd round in 2021 and is the top lefty in the system with a delivery that reminds some of Madison Bumgarner.

9. Tahnaj Thomas, RHP (January rank #6)
Age: 22
Current level: High-A
Thomas has a double-plus fastball and improving secondary pitches but has struggled with command leading to a lot of walks and too many home runs.

10. Miguel Yajure, RHP (Yankees’ January rank #14)
Age: 23
Current level: AAA
Yajure looked good in AAA and also made two promising starts with the Pirates before missing time with a forearm injury.

Tier 3

11. Rodolfo Castro, 2B/3B (January rank #18)
Age: 22
Current level: MLB
Before getting his call to The Show, Castro was having a breakout season in AA hitting in the heart of a strong Altoona lineup showing power, speed, and positional versatility.

12. Hudson Head, OF (January rank N/A, traded from Padres after Pirates Top 50 was published, would have been #6)
Age: 20
Current level: Low-A
Head has impressed showing power and patience in a pitcher-friendly league but must cut down on the K’s.

13. Mason Martin, 1B (January rank #11)
Age: 22
Current level: AA
Martin has been smashing baseballs of late (19 HR) but is still striking out at an alarming rate, which curbs my optimism somewhat and is likely holding up a promotion to AAA.

14. Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS (January rank N/A)
Age: 18
Current level: Rookie (FCL)
Chandler is a recent 2021 draftee who is so talented that some teams considered him a 1st round caliber switch-hitting SS but the Pirates plan to develop him as a pitcher who already has the makings of a plus fastball and curveball.

15. Maikol Escotto, SS (Yankees’ January rank #9)
Age: 19
Current level: Low-A
Escotto has overcome an early season injury and is putting together a very good year getting on base and even showing some power. He has to cut down the K rate.

16. Jared Jones, RHP (January rank #20)
Age: 19
Current level: Low-A
Jones has an electric arm with a plus fastball and slider combination which he has used to dominate Low-A hitters with a 13.8 K/9 rate.

17. Tucupita Marcano, 2B/OF/SS (Padres’ January rank #8)
Age: 21
Current level: AAA
Marcano was recently acquired from the Padres as part of the Adam Frazier deal and brings defensive versatility, strong contact skills, and a history of walking more than he strikes out.

18. Calvin Mitchell, OF (January rank #15)
Age: 22
Current level: AA
Mitchell is hitting for more power and striking out a lot less this season in Altoona which just might lead to a promotion to AAA.

19. Travis Swaggerty, OF (January rank #9)
Age: 23
Current level: AAA
Swaggerty got an aggressive assignment to Indianapolis and got off to a good start until he injured his shoulder and was lost for the season.

20. Canaan Smith-Njigba, OF (Yankees’ January rank #17)
Age: 22
Current level: AA
Smith-Njigba has had a good season in Altoona getting on base at a high rate and increasing his power output recently.

21. Lonnie White Jr., OF (January rank N/A)
Age: 18
Current level:
White is a 2021 draftee who was signed away from a scholarship to play baseball and football (WR) at Penn State. He is a freak athlete with plus speed and power capable of playing CF.

22. Endy Rodriguez, C (January – unranked, would have been Pirates #25 if in the system prior to publishing preseason Top 50)
Age: 21
Current level: Low-A
Rodriguez has impressed with the bat (.819 OPS) but must work on his defense to remain the second-best catching prospect in the system behind Henry Davis.

23. Ji-hwan Bae, 2B/SS/OF (January rank #14)
Age: 21
Current level: AA
Bae has had a disappointing start to the season but has picked it up dramatically recently raising his BA and OBP putting his 70-grade speed on display.

24. Matthew Fraizer, OF (January – unranked)
Age: 23
Current level: High-A
While he may be a bit old for the level, Fraizer has enjoyed a breakout season in Greensboro with an OPS of nearly 1.000. He could get promoted to AA Altoona soon.

25. Eddy Yean, RHP (January rank #24)
Age: 20
Current level: Low-A
Yean has overcome a tough start in Low-A and has really taken a step forward recently. Cutting down on the HR’s allowed must be his focus.

26. Sammy Siani, OF (January rank #17)
Age: 20
Current level: Low-A
Siani has flashed power and speed in the pitcher-friendly Low-A Southeast league and has a keen eye at the plate walking nearly 20% of the time but has missed several weeks with an injury.

27. Alexander Mojica, 3B/1B (January rank #8)
Age: 18
Current level: Low-A
Mojica is one of the youngest to players in Low-A Southeast and has held his own but given his size it may be difficult for him to find a defensive home.

28. Santiago Florez, RHP (January rank #44)
Age: 21
Current level: High-A
Florez dominated the Florida State League to the tune of 12.1 K/9 rate and a sub 2.00 ERA which earned him a promotion to High-A Greensboro.

29. Brennan Malone, RHP (January rank #7)
Age: 20
Current level: Rookie (FCL)
This has been a lost season due to injury but he still has a strong 4 pitch mix and a classic starter’s build on once he gets back on the development track.

30. Diego Castillo, 2B/SS/3B (January – unranked, #42 on Yankees midseason list before trade)
Age: 23
Current level: AA
Castillo was recently obtained from the Yankees in the Clay Holmes deal and has enjoyed a strong season so far at the plate slashing .277/.345/.504 with 11 HR at the time of the trade on July 26, 2021.

31. Jared Oliva, OF (January rank #10)
Age: 25
Current level: AAA
Oliva has been injured for much of the season and has been struggling in his recent call to The Show.

Tier 4

32. Michael Burrows, RHP (January rank #25)
Age: 21
Current level: High-A
Burrows has dominated High-A with a 12.89 K/9 rate and limiting the home run ball. Must add a third pitch to remain on course as a starter.

33. Max Kranick, RHP (January rank #42)
Age: 23
Current level: MLB
Started in AA and advanced 2 levels to The Show this season where he has looked comfortable mixing 4 average or above pitches and even threw 5 perfect innings in his MLB debut.

34. Cody Bolton, RHP (January rank #13)
Age: 23
Current level: AA
Bolton was being moved to a relief role before a knee injury and subsequent surgery sidelined him for the entire season.

35. Nick Garcia, RHP (January rank #22)
Age: 22
Current level: Low-A
Garcia has had a solid season in Low-A with 9.82 K/9 rate while also keeping the ball on the ground more than 50% of the time. Cutting down on the walks should be his focus going forward.

36. Lolo Sanchez, OF (January rank #19)
Age: 22
Current level: High-A
Sanchez is repeating High-A and has excelled at both getting on base (despite a .250 BABIP) and stealing bases ranking in the top 10 in the league.

37. Jack Suwinski, OF (Padres’ January rank #46)
Age: 22
Current level: AA
Suwinski is a recent acquisition from the Padres as part of the Adam Frazier trade and has had a breakout 2021 season showing power and patience at the plate.

38. Nick Mears, RHP (January rank #31)
Age: 24
Current level: MLB
Mears has minimal MLB experience offering a plus fastball and average curveball out of the bullpen. Command must improve to be considered for a late inning/high leverage role.

39. Steven Jennings, RHP (January – unranked)
Age: 22
Current level: High-A
Jennings earned an early season promotion to High-A as reliever.

40. Hoy Park, 2B/SS/3B/OF (January unranked, #33 on Yankees midseason list before the trade)
Age: 25
Current level: MLB
Park was acquired from the Yankees as part of the return for Clay Holmes and he has had a breakout season slashing .327/.475/.567 with 10 HR and a 20% walk rate at the time of the trade on July 26, 2021.

Tier 5

41. Po-Yu Chen, RHP (January rank N/A)
Age: 19
Chen is from Taiwan and got a $1.25 mil bonus in the 2020 International class who has a four-pitch mix with good command and is looking great in the FCL.

42. Omar Cruz, LHP (January – unranked)
Age: 22
Current level: AA
Cruz is a crafty lefty with modest stuff who earned an early season promotion from Greensboro to AA Altoona on the strength of an almost 12 K/9 rate. In Altoona, he is striking out fewer batters but doing a better job avoiding the home run ball.

43. Jared Triolo, 3B (January – unranked)
Age: 23
Current level: High-A
Triolo has no standout tool but is at least average across the board and has surprisingly stolen 20 bags so far for High-A Greensboro.

44. Rodolfo Nolasco, OF (January rank #37)
Age: 19
Current level: Rookie (FCL)
Nolasco is a young OF with promising hit and power tools who could get some time in Low-A later this summer.

45. Carter Bins, C (Mariners’ January rank #47)
Age: 22
Current level: AA
Bins was recently acquired from Seattle at the deadline and brings with him a strong defensive profile and the ability to get on base.

46. Ricky DeVito, RHP (Braves’ January rank #33)
Age: 22
Current level: High-A
Devito was recently acquired from Atlanta and when healthy features a strong three-pitch mix that includes a plus splitter.

47. Braxton Ashcraft, RHP (January rank #26)
Age: 21
Current level: High-A
Ashcraft is a big righty who before a season-ending injury showed a decent ability to limit walks and strikeout High-A hitters.

48. Shalin Polanco, OF (January rank N/A)
Age: 17
Current level: Rookie (DSL)
Polanco is a 2021 big money international signee with potentially 5 plus tools in CF but of course is very far away having just appeared in his first professional games in the DSL.

49. Abrahan Gutierrez, C (January – unranked, #41 on Phillies midseason list before the trade)
Age: 21
Current level: Low-A
Gutierrez was recently acquired from the Phillies and is a solid defensive catcher who has made improvements at the plate including better on-base skills and doubling his ISO from 2019.

50. Jase Bowen, 2B/3B/OF (January – unranked)
Age: 20
Current level: Low-A
Bowen is a very versatile piece for the Pirates who has shown power and speed in Low-A Southeast but must work on cutting down his K’s.

Just missed the cut…

Owen Kellington, RHP (January rank N/A – 2021 draft pick)
Age: 18
Current level: Rookie (FCL)

Braylon Bishop, OF (January rank N/A – 2021 draft pick)
Age: 18
Current level: Rookie (FCL)

Jack Herman, OF (January rank #21)
Age: 21
Current level: Low-A

Luis Ortiz, RHP (January – unranked)
Age: 22
Current level: Low-A

Austin Roberts, RHP (January – unranked)
Age: 22
Current level: High-A

J.C. Flowers, RHP (January – unranked)
Age: 23
Current level: High-A

Fabricio Macias, OF (January – unranked)
Age: 23
Current level: AAA

Oliver Mateo, RHP (January – unranked)
Age: 23
Current level: Low-A

Logan Hofmann, RHP (January r)
Age: 21
Current level: Low-A




About Greg Rosenthal 6 Articles
Greg Rosenthal is a lifelong baseball fan and now the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Prospects1500. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he has lived in South Florida his entire adult life. Greg graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Political Science as well as a law degree. Greg is married with three college aged kids. He plays in several fantasy baseball leagues including two dynasty leagues. He can be reached on Twitter at @bucfish67.

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