Pirates Fans are paying attention to Spring Training with one watchful eye, as the other regularly drifts toward the future. This obviously includes the prospects that will one day reopen the window, which was abruptly shut following the 2015 season ; although we didn’t know it was officially closed until at least 2017 or after.
Exit Neil Huntington and commence the era of Ben Cherington, the new great hope for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who has added a number of top prospects to this supposed floundering farm system in an apparent rejuvenation of the minors. As evidence Cherington has added 14 prospects to the top 30; an unfathomable achievement from what I can gather, or what is being presented as fact because there is no way anyone has ever done this before.
This unquestionable belief, and undoubtedly evident analysis is proven by the most recent rankings, as well as the declaration of the Pirates presence as one of the most elite teams with their recent inclusion of top farm systems in MLB; because this is where success is conclusively determined.
At this point, after having navigated through a sea the sarcastic analogies and pessimistic undertones you might be surprised to find out that I am actually pretty happy with the prospects that have been acquired and the direction the team is headed. However, as the Pirates Media Department tweeted out, they are just getting started; and more succinctly in my mind they better keep it going because this is far from over.
As fans of prospects it is a major pastime to compare said Minor League rankings to identify the ones that imply that their team has officially arrived again, which is why the focus is usually on their #4 on Fangraphs or #8 on MLB Pipeline, as opposed to Keith Law’s ranking of #16 or Baseball America’s #13. But, in all honesty they could climb to #1 across the board and it wouldn’t matter unless they are able to stay healthy and perform in the Majors.
Just a few years back they were seen as a system on the rise with players like Reese McGuire, Nick Kingham, Alen Hanson, John Holdzkom and Andrew Lambo. We all know how that turned out. Also it wasn’t until 2018 when they actually moved out of the top 10 on all sites, so the trip back was not as long as many try to make it seem. Additionally I still see teams like the Blue Jays and Padres ahead of them, even though San Diego traded away what seems like half their system and Toronto has graduated a lot of their top prospects already, plus they both spend money.
Yes, they have to be near the top in order to compete, but it doesn’t automatically mean that they will when the time comes. Ben Cherington’s job is far from done and hopefully he’s just getting started because truthfully there is something that’s a little bit cooler than prospects.