Pittsburgh Pirates Midseason Top 50 Prospects

A few fresh faces jump into the top 10, as Austin Meadows and Nick Kingham lead the graduating class at the midpoint. Young, high upside talent follows potential future ace Mitch Keller. Here’s the link to my 2018 preseason Pirates Top 50 Prospects.

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 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. Mitch Keller, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #1)
Age: 22 (DOB 04/04/1996)
2018 stat line:  9-3 W-L, 3.65 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 98.2 IP, 17 GS  (14 in AA, 3 in AAA)

Keller dominated for Double-A Altoona before earning a mid-season promotion to Triple-A where he has struggled a bit through 2 starts. Just a small bump on the road to Pittsburgh though for Keller, who we could see in the Black and Gold before the year is over. ETA: 2018

Tier 2:

2. Shane Baz, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #1)
Age: 19 (DOB 06/17/1999)
2018 stat line:   2-2 W-L, 5.20 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, 27.2 IP, 6 GS   (Rookie Level)

Baz bumps up one level for the 2018 season. Still having minor issues with command, but BB/9 is down from debut in 2017. ETA: 2021

3. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B (Pre ‘18 Rank #6)
Age: 21, (DOB 01/28/1997)
2018 stat line:   .294 AVG, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 9 SB, .821 OPS, 299 AB   (Double-A)

While I would still like to see more power, Hayes has the best triple slash of his career thus far in 2018 (.293/.361/.454.) Extra base hits tend to show power potential and Hayes already has 31 XBH in 2018 compared to 25 in all of 2017. ETA: 2019

4. Travis Swaggerty, OF (Pre ‘18 Rank N/A)
Age: 20 (DOB 08/19/1997)
2018 stat line:   .280 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB, .821 OPS, 75 AB  (Low-A)

10th overall pick in 2018 draft.  Swaggerty has 4 above average tools, with some developing power to add to them.  Comparisons to Andrew Benintendi and Brett Gardner could leave Swaggerty in good company. ETA: 2020

5. Cole Tucker, SS (Pre ‘18 Rank #3)
Age: 22 (DOB 07/03/1996)
2018 stat line:   .260 AVG, 3 HR, 27 RBI, 26 SB, .675 OPS, 358 AB   (Double-A)

Tucker took a nice step forward in 2017, with a breakout in power and improved OBP. However, with one full season’s worth of at bats in Double-A, Tucker needs to continue that development to stay the SS of the future in Pittsburgh. ETA: 2019

Tier 3:

6. Bryan Reynolds, OF (Pre ‘18 Rank #5)
Age: 23 (DOB 01/27/1995)
2018 stat line:   .264 AVG, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 2 SB, .767 OPS, 163 AB   (Double-A)

Reynolds 2018 got off to a slow start after an April injury led to surgery to remove the fractured hook of the hamate bone in his left hand. The centerpiece of the McCutchen trade should have no issue returning to form. ETA: 2019

7. Taylor Hearn, SP (Pre ‘18 Rank #9)
Age: 23 (DOB 08/30/1994)
2018 stat line:   3-5 W-L, 3.23 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 92 IP, 17 GS   (Double-A)

Hearn has continued to improve since becoming a full time starter last year. The big, hard throwing lefty has never given up a lot of solid contact and has continued to improve his walk rates.  Look for him to continue shooting up the board. ETA: 2019

8. Oneil Cruz, 3B/SS (Pre ‘18 Rank #13)
Age: 19 (DOB 10/04/1998)
2018 stat line:   .289 AVG, 11 HR, 53 RBI, 10 SB, .828 OPS, 336 AB   (Single-A)

Cruz is in the midst of a breakout 2018 season in his second shot at A ball. Still one of the younger players in the league, Cruz has cut down on strikeouts, walked more and showed the power and speed combination that gives him such great upside. ETA: 2021

9. Cal Mitchell, OF (Pre ‘18 Rank #15)
Age: 19 (DOB 03/08/1999)
2018 stat line:   .285 AVG, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 4 SB, .801 OPS, 295 AB   (Single-A)

A second round pick in 2017, Mitchell has proven to be for real. Jumping to full season ball in his first full professional season and not missing a beat, Mitchell is slashing .304/.368/.487 as one of the younger players in the league. ETA: 2021

10. Luis Escobar, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #8)
Age: 22 (DOB 05/30/1996)
2018 stat line:   8-6 W-L, 4.01 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 98.2 IP, 17 GS   (16 at High-A, 1 at Double-A)

Escobar held his own in his first taste of High-A and was just promoted to AA. While the K/9 is down a bit from the astronomical 11.5 in 2017, the BB/9 is slightly improved.  The stuff is there to be a middle of the rotation starter. ETA: 2020

11. Jason Martin, OF (Pre ‘18 Rank #17)
Age: 22 (DOB 09/05/1995)
2018 stat line:   .320 AVG, 10 HR, 43 RBI, 8 SB (but 9 CS), .882 OPS, 322 AB  (255 AB in Double-A, 67 in Triple-A)

Martin is enjoying a breakout 2018, torching the Eastern League and earning a June promotion to Indianapolis. While breaking through in Pittsburgh could be an uphill battle with the young talented OF currently in place, Martin is making it hard for Pittsburgh to ignore him. ETA: 2019

12. Lolo Sanchez, OF (Pre ‘18 Rank #21)
Age: 19 (DOB 04/23/1999)
2018 stat line:   .233 AVG, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 20 SB, .644 OPS, 253 AB   (Single-A)

Just like Cal Martin, Pittsburgh pushed Sanchez, placing him in full season ball prior to his 19th birthday.  Sanchez struggled mightily, slashing .163/.256/.263 in 80 April at bats.  However, Sanchez had it turned around and in 57 June at bat slashed, .298/.375/.456. ETA: 2021

13. Kevin Newman, SS (Pre ‘18 Rank #7)
Age: 24 (DOB 07/04/1993)
2018 stat line:   .294 AVG, 3 HR, 27 RBI, 22 SB, .737 OPS, 344 AB   (Triple-A)

A drop in ranking for Newman here is almost not fair. Newman has done everything you could ask in Triple-A thus far.  He has set a career high in steals with 21, slashed .307/.355/.393 and committed only 5 errors in 319 chances, mostly at SS, but also at 2B. Newman should get a chance if Harrison or Mercer depart Pittsburgh in July. ETA: 2018

14. Kevin Kramer, 2B (Pre ‘18 Rank #11)
Age: 24 (DOB 10/03/1993)
2018 stat line:   .295 AVG, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 10 SB, .839 OPS, 329 AB   (Triple-A)

We could say see above, as Kramer is in the same boat as his double play partner Kevin Newman. Kramer has made his first shot at Triple A, a good one.  Already setting a career high in HR, while playing solid defense at 2B, 3B and SS.  Kramer should see a shot in Pittsburgh before the end of the year. ETA: 2018

15. Steven Jennings, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #10)
Age: 19 (DOB 11/13/1998)
2018 stat line:   2-2 W-L, 5.06 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 7.1 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, 26.2 IP, 6 GS   (Rookie League)

The raw right-hander is still learning how to pitch, after being a 2-sport star in high school. With the potential to have 4 above average pitches, Jennings could be a front of the rotation starter as he learns and fills in. ETA: 2022

16. Will Craig, 1B (Pre ‘18 Rank #12)
Age: 23 (DOB 11/16/1994)
2018 stat line:   .248 AVG, 16 HR, 76 RBI, 3 SB, .778 OPS, 318 AB   (Double-A)

Everyone kept saying the power was coming. After 6 career HR in 676 at bats, most wondered if they were wrong. Craig has broken out big time, power wise, in 2018 turning his career HR per AB from 112.7 to 19.9 HR per AB in 2018. ETA: 2019

17. Conner Uselton, OF (Pre ‘18 Rank #14)
Age: 19 (DOB 05/20/1998)
2018 stat line:   .277 AVG, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, .612 OPS, 83 AB   (Rookie League)

The tools are there for Uselton. At this point, it is all just a matter of being on the field to show them off.  An injury shortened debut and a few weeks of rookie ball can’t begin to speak of the power/speed combo that Pittsburgh loves. ETA: 2022

18. Travis MacGregor, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #17)
Age: 20 (DOB 10/15/1997)
2018 stat line:   1-2 W-L, 2.59, ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 48.2 IP, 12 GS (2 GS in Gulf Coast League, 10 in Single-A)

Huge leap forward in 2018 so far for MacGregor. A jump in K/9 from 7.0 to 11.3 and reduction of BB/9 from 4.4 to 2.2, MacGregor is showing why the Pirates grabbed him in the second round in 2016. ETA: 2020

19. Braxton Ashcraft, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #N/A)
Age: 18 (DOB 10/05/1999)
2018 stat line:   Has yet to make professional debut.

The 6’5” righty has a heavy sinking fastball that currently sits 90-92. However, with room to fill out his 195-pound frame, Pittsburgh’s 2nd round pick in 2018 is likely to add to that.  With a promising slider and a developing changeup, the big athletic righty fits the mold and could easily find himself in the Pittsburgh rotation in a few years. ETA: 2020

20. Gage Hinsz, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #18)
Age: 22 (DOB 04/20/1996)
2018 stat line:   Will miss entire 2018 season due to open heart surgery

The mid-rotation upside hasn’t gone away. A heavy mid 90’s fastball, a power curve and a rapidly improving changeup give Hinsz 3 solid pitches to work with.  The Pirates are confident that the valve issue that has caused him to miss all of 2018 will not have any lingering effects, so we look forward to seeing him back on the mound in 2019. ETA: 2021

21. Clay Holmes, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #19)
Age: 25 (DOB 03/27/1993)
2018 stat line:   6-3 W-L, 3.52 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 79.1 IP, 13 GS   (1 GS in High A, 13 GS in AAA, 4 MLB GM, 2 GS)

Holmes earned his first taste of the big show in 2018. Logging 12.1 innings so far in 2 relief appearances and 2 starts. The results have been mixed, as he struggled against a tough Dodgers lineup in his first career start, but look for Holmes to get another shot down the stretch this year. ETA: 2018

22. Brandon Waddell, LHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #23)
Age: 24 (DOB 06/03/1994)
2018 stat line: 6-5 W-L, 3.65 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 93.2 IP, 15 GS (8 GS in AA, 7 GS in AAA)

Waddell has struggled a bit in his first shot in Triple-A Indianapolis, but did just toss a 7 IP, 0 ER, 9 K gem to earn Prospect of the Week honors (week of 7/9-7/15). After a very good start to the year in Altoona, Waddell should have some time to adjust to the new level in 2018, as he finds himself 4th or 5th in line for a rotation spot in Pittsburgh right now. ETA: 2019

23. Braeden Ogle, LHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #20)
Age: 20 (DOB 07/30/1997)
2018 stat line:   2-0 W-L, 2.65 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 11.1 K/9, 5.3 BB/9, 17 IP, 4 GS   (Single-A)

The former 4th round pick was off to a solid start to the 2018 season before finding himself on the DL.  Many see Ogle ended up in the pen, as he has been inconsistent with effort and command, but he has 3 sold pitches and sits 94-96 when focused, so rotation upside is there. ETA: 2021

24. Deon Stafford, C (Pre ‘18 Rank #36)
Age: 22 (DOB 03/17/1996)
2018 stat line:   .257 AVG, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 0 SB, .716 OPS, 249 AB   (Single-A)

Stafford doesn’t show any specific skill that will jump out at you. However, he has proven to be solid across the board since being drafted in the 5th round.  Stafford has been consistent with the bat and a great leader behind the plate. ETA: 2020

25. Dario Agrazal, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #35)
Age: 23 (DOB 12/28/1994)
2018 stat line:   3-2 W-L, 2.79 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 5.1 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 51.2, IP, 8 GS   (Double-A)

Agrazal has a great fastball that sits 92-94 and can touch 96, with a ton of sink. His secondary offerings aren’t currently at the same level as his fastball, leading to a lot of contact, but he does a great job of keeping it on the ground.  Back end of the rotation isn’t out of the question. ETA: 2019

26. Domingo Robles, LHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #34)
Age: 20 (DOB 04/29/1998)
2018 stat line:   7-6 W-L, 3.38 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 96 IP, 18 GS   (Single-A)

Robles still has plenty of work to do, but at 20 playing in full-season ball, Pittsburgh has plenty of time left for him to develop. Robles has posted a career best 7.4 K/9 in 2018 while having already thrown almost 30 more innings than his career high.  He needs to miss more bats, but mid-rotation upside is there. ETA: 2021

27. J.T. Brubaker, SP (Pre ‘18 Rank #44)
Age: 24 (DOB 11/17/1993)
2018 stat line: 7-5 W-L, 3.27 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 107.1 IP, 20 GS   (6 GS in AA, 14 in AAA)

My pre-2018 assessment of Brubaker put him firmly in the future reliever category. After dominating in 6 starts to start the year in Double-A and a solid showing in his first shot at Triple-A, Brubaker has done a bit to change my mind. With a good heavy fastball that sits 94-97, 3 fair off-speed offerings, Brubaker will likely be in a battle with the likes of #22 Waddell, #21 Holmes, #39 Eppler and future ace #1 Keller for the next shot in Pittsburgh. ETA: 2019

28. Nick Burdi, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #22)
Age: 25 (DOB 01/19/1993)
2018 stat line:   Recovering from Tommy John

Burdi has only thrown 20 innings total since 2015 due to various elbow injuries, including Tommy John Surgery. However, Burdi has been throwing simulated games in Bradenton and appears to be very close to a rehab assignment, so we may see him in Pittsburgh in 2018. ETA: 2018

29. Mason Martin, 1B/OF (Pre ‘18 Rank #40)
Age: 19 (DOB 06/02/1999)
2018 stat line:   .249 AVG, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 1 SB, .774 OPS, 245 AB   (150 AB in Single-A, 95 AB in Rookie League)

Pittsburgh aggressively sent Martin to full season ball to start the 2018 season. Martin had just 127 Gulf Coast League at bats at that point and it showed.  Striking out in 36% of his at bats, Martin was moved down to the rookie league, where the Martin we saw in his debut in 2017 has come back.  The powerful first basemen will be back to Single-A soon enough. ETA: 2021

Tier 4:

30. Juan Pie, OF (Pre ‘18 Rank #49)
Age: 17 (DOB 04/01/2001)
2018 stat line:   .305 AVG, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 4 SB, .933 OPS, 131 AB   (Dominican Summer League)

The big projectable lefty, Pie made his professional debut at the beginning of June. In the small sample, Pie has proven the scouting reports right thus far.  Making a lot of loud contact (18 XBH), showing good athleticism and showing good plate discipline (11.5% BB Rate). ETA: 2023

31. Ji-Hwan Bae, SS (Pre ‘18 Rank #N/A)
Age: 18 (DOB 07/26/1999)
2018 stat line:   .296 AVG, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 5 SB, .778 OPS, 54 AB   (Gulf Coast League)

Bae’s professional career has been incredibly tumultuous, signed by Atlanta and having his deal voided before agreeing with Pittsburgh, and currently facing domestic violence accusations. Bae has attempted to put that behind him while making his American debut in 2018.  With a tiny sample size, Bae has shown the ability to stick at shortstop and possibly slot in at the top of the lineup in the future. ETA: 2023

32. Jared Oliva, OF (Pre ‘18 Rank #N/A)
Age: 22 (DOB 11/27/1995)
2018 stat line:   .280 AVG, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 28 SB, .821 OPS, 318 AB   (High-A)

Oliva was a bit of a steal in the 7th round in 2017 for Pittsburgh, after falling about 70 slots below his projected value.  The lanky athletic outfielder has done nothing but impress since taking the field though.  A plus defender that should have no issue staying in centerfield, Oliva made the jump to High-A seamlessly with 34 XBH, 28 SB, and a .365 OBP thus far. ETA: 2020

33. Max Kranick, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #33)
Age: 20 (DOB 07/21/1997)
2018 stat line:   1-4 W-L, 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 46.2 IP, 10 GS   (Single-A)

Kranick has performed reasonably well in his first shot at full season ball. Already reaching a career high in innings pitched, the young righty has a career high 7.2 K/9 thus far in 2018. ETA: 2020

34. Stephen Alemais, SS (Pre ‘18 Rank #27)
Age: 23 (DOB 04/12/95)
2018 stat line:   .278 AVG, 1 HR, 29 RBI, 14 SB, .693 OPS, 284 AB   (Double-A)

Middle infield in the Pirates system is not an easy place to breakthrough. The slick fielding Alemais is finding that out the hard way.  Moved to 2B in 2018 to play alongside #5 prospect Tucker, Alemais looks up at #14 Kramer and #13 Newman. ETA: 2019

35. Jordan Luplow, OF (Pre ‘18 Rank #25)
Age: 24 (DOB 09/26/1993)
2018 stat line:   .297 AVG, 8 HR, 47 RBI, 7 SB, .869 OPS, 273 AB   (Triple A)

Luplow again has hit well in AAA. Well enough to earn another brief call up to the show, where he hit 2 home runs in his first 15 at bats.  Luplow limits K’s, hits for decent power and even shows a little speed, but still likely profiles as a fourth outfielder. ETA: 2018

36. Sherten Apostel, 3B (Pre ‘18 Rank #32)
Age: 19 (DOB 03/11/1999)
2018 stat line:   .247 AVG, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB, .772 OPS, 77 AB   (Rookie League)

The 19-year-old has taken his lumps a bit in his stateside debut, however jumping the Gulf Coast League, the upside is still there for Apostel. With a 15/17 BB/K and a .403 OBP, the plate discipline is still fantastic.  The power he showed last year will likely come as he settles in. ETA: 2023

37. Connor Kaiser, SS (Pre ‘18 Rank #N/A)
Age: 21 (DOB 11/20/1996)
2018 stat line:   .200 AVG, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 4 SB, .505 OPS, 65 AB   (Low A)

2018 3rd round pick.  Mostly considered a glove first shortstop while at Vanderbilt, the 6’4” Kaiser is projected to have the potential to hit for some power as he grows into his frame.  The slick fielding shortstop has yet to commit and error in his first 98 professional chances, so he will get plenty of opportunity to bring the bat with him. ETA: 2021

38. Yeudy Garcia, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #26)
Age: 25 (DOB 10/06/1992)
2018 stat line:   1-4 W-L, 4.85 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, 39 IP, 0 GS   (Double-A)

Many hoped that Garcia would continue to build on the pitcher he showed he was, after becoming a full time reliever in 2017. However, a disastrous May and June leaves Garcia’s prospect status in question, as he repeats Double-A at 25. ETA: 2019

39. Tyler Eppler, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #31)
Age: 25 (DOB 01/05/1993)
2018 stat line:    9-4 W-L, 3.21 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 101 IP, 17 GS   (Triple-A)

A repeat of Triple-A has proven to be great for Eppler. A career high 7.5 (K/9), almost 1.5 less hits per 9 and a steady BB/9, Eppler is hanging around in the rotation discussion for another year. ETA: 2018

40. Cody Bolton, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #42)
Age: 20 (DOB 06/19/1998)
2018 stat line:   3-3 W-L, 3.65 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 44.1 IP, 9 GS   (Single-A)

Bolton has improved on every facet of his game in his full season debut in 2018. Still a ways away, Bolton appears to be a 6th round steal at this point. ETA: 2021

41. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #29)
Age: 25 (DOB 01/14/1993)
2018 stat line:   1-2 W-L, 1.38 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 5.5 BB/9, 32.2 IP, 0 GS   (Triple-A)

Neverauskas continues to dominate AAA hitters, but struggle in the Majors. Pittsburgh is not likely far from moving on from Neverauskas, without a major improvement in his next opportunity. ETA: 2018

Tier 5:

42. Dylan Busby, 3B (Pre ‘18 Rank #37)
Age: 22 (DOB 11/28/1995)
2018 stat line: .208 AVG, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 3 SB, .711 OPS, 125 AB   (103 At-Bats in Single A, 22 At-Bats in GCL)

After a very slow April, Busby had turned things around in May, in his full season debut. That bounce back was derailed however, as a fastball to the head caused him to miss the entire month of June. ETA: 2021

43. Jonah Davis, OF (Pre ‘18 Rank #N/A)
Age: 21 (DOB 07/02/1997)
2018 stat line:   .400 AVG, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 4 SB, 1.184 OPS, 90 AB   (Rookie League)

Davis a 15th round pick in 2018, jumps into the top 50 because of his upside, and his blazing hot start.  Davis hit 14 home runs as Jr. at Cal Berkeley and has already smashed 6 in his professional debut.  The power does come with a bit too much swing and miss, but pure power potential doesn’t grow on trees. ETA: 2020

44. Rodolfo Castro, 2B/SS (Pre ‘18 Rank #39)
Age: 19 (DOB 05/21/1999)
2018 stat line:   .228 AVG, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 4 SB, .664 OPS, 294 AB   (Single-A)

Pittsburgh has pushed Castro, skipping the Appalachian League and moving straight from the GCL to full season ball. The transition has been slow, but as the calendar turned to July, Castro has heated up, slashing .300/.378/.600 in July.  He’s a better hitter than the overall numbers show and can play multiple infield positions. ETA: 2021

45. Pedro Vasquez, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #41)
Age: 22 (DOB 09/23/1995)
2018 stat line:   2-6 W-L, 5.12 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 63.1 IP, 12 GS   (Double-A)

Pittsburgh has continued the push the big righty, promoting him to Double-A after a successful season in High-A. Currently on the DL, Vasquez has struggled bit with the transition, and could soon find himself in the bullpen with his strong fastball/slider combination. ETA: 2020

46. Oddy Nunez, LHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #43)
Age: 21 (DOB 12/20/1996)
2018 stat line:   4-8 W-L, 4.47 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 5.5 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 94.2 IP, 16 GS   (High-A)

The ability to repeat the delivery is always a concern with a 6’8” starting pitcher. Nunez has shown the ability to do that in spurts, evidenced by his 6 quality starts, including an 8 inning no hitter June 24th.  Nunez also has 6 starts where he has surrendered 4 earned runs or more.  The upside is there to make him an interesting one to watch though. ETA: 2020

47. Eduardo Vera, RHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #47)
Age: 24 (DOB 07/03/1994)
2018 stat line: 5-5 W-L, 3.91 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 4.8 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 106 IP, 18 GS   (9 GS in High-A, 9 GS in Double-A)

Vera is still making up for lost time due to injury and flying through the Pittsburgh system while he’s doing it. Vera dominated High-A in his first 9 starts of the year, and has held his own in his promotion to Double-A. ETA: 2020

48. Cam Vieaux, LHP (Pre ‘18 Rank #47)
Age: 24 (DOB 12/05/1993)
2018 stat line:   10-2 W-L, 3.25 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 105.1 IP, 18 GS   (10 GS in High-A, 8 GS in Double-A)

Vieaux has moved fairly quickly through the Pittsburgh system, seeing 2 levels in both of his full seasons as a professional and improving with every stop. In his current stop, the big 6’5” lefty, has allowed less than 7 Hits per 9, less than 1 walk per 9 and struck out more than 7 per 9. ETA: 2019

49. Bligh Madris, OF (Pre ‘18 Rank #50)
Age: 22 (DOB 02/28/1996)
2018 stat line:   .249 AVG, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 3 SB, .708 OPS, 285 AB   (High-A)

Skipping full season A-ball, Madris jumped right to High A Bradenton and is proving to be more than up to the task. While the slash line .251/.308/.406 has dipped a bit, the 2nd year outfielder has 23 extra base hits has only seen a slight bump in K rate, to a still reasonable 20%.  A lot to like with the 2017 9th round pick. ETA: 2020

50. Jack Herman, OF (Pre ’18 Rank N/A)
Age: 18 (DOB 09/30/1999)
2018 stat line:   .318 AVG, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB, .997 OPS, 44 AB   (Gulf Coast League)

It’s not often you see a 30th round pick with 44 career at bats find his way onto a top 50 list.  However, Herman was projected to be drafted in the top 10 rounds and fell due to signability concerns.  Currently Herman projects to have 5 tool potential, so the upside and the hot start make him one to watch. ETA: 2023


Article featured image of Mitch Keller (starting the Futures Game) – photo credit Ryan James (@RyanJames5)


An absolute sports fanatic. Be it at the office or a family gathering, you can usually find me talking sports, especially baseball. When I am not at the office working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at a small bureau in the Dept. of Human Services, I love to golf, go to Baltimore to catch the O’s or Ravens and spend time with my amazing wife. Follow me on Twitter @RyanJames5.


    • I really like Jason Martin and I think he has had one of the better years in the entire system. However, while I admittedly have not had the chance to see him in person, as much as I would like, I do think that he has slightly less upside than the players in front of him. Thanks for the comment!

  1. These lists are basically draft pick driven. Without eyewitness evaluation over several games, the talent of a prospect can’t be truly judged. If any of these analysts actually watched Martin play, they would recognize his top 10 talent. Offensively and Defensively he’s solid.

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