Through The Prospect Porthole: Pirates Prospect Rankings

1-22-23 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)

The last season Bryan Reynolds was a prospect, he didn’t make his way inside the Top 100; and, he barely fit inside the Pirates Top 10. Four years later we are battling with the idea of having our best player asking for a trade.

That same year Travis Swaggerty was at #3, Cole Tucker was projected at #5 and Kevin Newman sat right behind at #6.

If you turn back the clock to 2018, and you would find Miguel Andujar comfortably within the Top 100. Now he’s been designated for assignment. In 2015 Robert Stephenson was at 26, Austin Edges was 51 and Vince Velasquez was at 86.

I could keep on going, but I want to warn you…we will be be here for a while.

Like a long time. No joke.

It’s fine. I get it

Many people don’t want to have anything to do with prospects until they see what they perceive as an unfavorable assessment.

However, without getting fully engulfed in every aspect of the system, it’s tough to gauge how negative everything truly is.

I’ve heard more than once that this is Ben Cherington’s third year building the system; yet, I have a hard time buying into this theory.

How much of the system was able to get built in 2020?

What portion of 2021 was spent trying to catch up from the time lost in 2020?

Did you pay attention to all of the changes the Pirates made to the development system in 2022?

Each Minor League Team had an Integrated Baseball Performance Coach added to their staff, Dewey Robinson was hired to be a Special Advisor to Pitching Development and Chad Noble was called upon to be a Roving Catching Instructor; moving up and down throughout the Pirates Farm System on an as needed basis.

It’s a process. One that many Pirates Fans are getting exhausted with.

Now, as an act of desperation, we are using the praise laid on the Baltimore Orioles, and their miraculous turnaround to make ourselves feel bad. Their rebuild began in 2018, but it makes total sense to compare it to the Pirates because you want your team to experience the same sort of success.

Well, in order for this to even be a possibility for them, it was decided that they had to lose 115 games in 2018, 108 games in 2019 and 110 games in 2021; with what would have equated to 95 losses in the shortened 2020 season.

All too often we focus on the results, while selectively ignoring what it took to get them to where they are now.

Does this mean the process that Ben Cherington and Company have decided to undertake will work? No.

Was this the only way to do it? No.

Is it ideal to have prospects fall out of the Top 100 on any list? Also, no.

Does this mean the process is failing? Once again, that’s a no.

Even when the Pirates had what was seen as a Top 5 Farm System, it was always because of depth; not due number of highly rated prospects.

Now as far as discussion concerning individual prospects like Quinn Priester. Nowhere does it say he is a bad player, and/or isn’t going to succeed.

Earlier in the thread Cooper spoke about the difference between a player that makes the Top 100, and those that don’t.

For the record Priester was 88th on last year’s list, so what really changed? Other than dealing with an injury to begin the season, really nothing.

The writers at Baseball America did go a little more in depth with their explanation, so it is definitely worth mentioning.

Still, it’s hard for me to overreact when the young man posted a 2.98 ERA and a 1.200 WHIP between Altoona and Indianapolis.

But, if that’s your thing, have at it.

I just can’t, because eventually it comes down to actually performing on the field; which realistically won’t be affected by whether or not the player made some list.

Although, it should be noted there is one thing that could be affected by these lists, and that’s PPI (Prospect Promotion Incentive), which Ethan Hullihen and Nola Jeffy did a good job breaking down on Pirates Prospects , so I won’t go into it.

It should also be noted that the staff of this and other publications didn’t agree to take on this responsibility.

Published by Craig W. Toth

Former Contributing Author at, Co-Host of the Bucs in the Basement Podcast and life-long/diehard Pittsburgh Pirates Fan!

One thought on “Through The Prospect Porthole: Pirates Prospect Rankings

  1. Well stated, Craig. In my opinion this is one of your best yet. No matter which publication, the rankings are *projections,* which literally means “calculation of some future thing,” i.e., an estimate. I certainly understand healthy debate about prospects’ quality, but in the grand scheme it’s not worth getting all that bent out of shape for.


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