It goes without saying that this spring and summer was full of disappointments for Pirates fans and those within the Pittsburgh organization; from the Front Office, all the way down to the most recently drafted and acquired players. Much of this goes beyond the 19-41 record, accumulating injuries and underwhelming individual performances on the big league level. For many the truncated Major League and cancelled Minor League Baseball Seasons led to time at home, absent of any formalized work or games. Some players and coaches were lucky enough to be chosen to participate in the Taxi Squad at the Alternate Site in Altoona. However, many others were left to their own devices, and of course fans were left with the void of not getting a glimpse at the next generation of hopefuls in a MiLB Ballpark near them.
This changed for a select group of young Pirates prospects as it was announced back in September that ball clubs could move forward with Instructional Leagues at their Spring Training facilities, which would include both workouts and games between teams.
When the Pirates announced the eligible players that would fill out this roster, a few familiar faces from the Taxi Squad could be seen; including #1 Prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Nick Gonzales. Also on the final list were, #4 ranked Pitcher Quinn Priester, #5 Short Stop Liover Pegeuro, #18 First Baseman Mason Martin, and #26 Second Baseman Rodolfo Castro. However, many would be participating in their first team led workouts since the shutdown and for some it would be their first ever in a Pirates uniform of any sort. At the top of the later group were the remaining five members of the Pirates 2020 draft class and two top international signees, all pitchers; #8 ranked Carmen Mlodzinski, #13 Pitcher Jared Jones, #17 Pitcher Nick Garcia, Jack Hartman, Logan Hoffman, Yojeiry Osoria and Christopher Cruz.
All in all there were 20 players from the MLB Pipeline Top 30 Prospects on the finalized roster, as well as at least 5 others ranked by either Fangraphs or Baseball America. This makes up almost half of the entire roster; which isn’t completely unusual. Some players eventually graduate due to MLB Service, while others lose their luster as they move through the system; ultimately being replaced by the new shiny or flashy player with higher ceiling capacity.
So, what does this tell me? Well, as far as the Pirates Farm System is concerned, the future is bright, extremely young and packed with potential talent. Unfortunately looking at this roster also points out, yet again, a glaring hole that exists within the organization; according to the experts that construct these lists. Not one of the seven catchers listed is seen as a top level talent within the system. However, for the most part, they have youth on their side as the majority are 22 years old or younger, with a couple of 19 year olds in the bunch. Simply put, they have time to develop and grow at the position.
As far as the guys left off the roster due to ineligibility, availability or even performance, I am hopeful for a more normal off-season filled with Winter Leagues and ultimately full Major and Minor League seasons as we look toward the future. There is also a little bit selfishness baked into this hope because, what I wouldn’t give to be scouting Pirates Prospects come spring.