Top Baseball Prospects for 2015 and Beyond
Now updated for 2016's Top Prospects
Scouting Book's Top Prospects list is a Combined List, a calculated summary of the overall valuations of the entire prospect universe.
Remember: this page is the result of an automatic process that re-sorts and re-ranks players often.
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Top Pirates Prospects for 2015
Current Overall SB ranking shown in grid below.
A towering righthander who's as good at intimidating hitters as he is at actually throwing baseballs, Pirate prospect Tyler Glasnow might not be as well-known as some of Pittsburgh's other pitching prospects, but his ceiling is just as high. He doesn't command it perfectly, but isn't afraid to use it inside as well as outside, which is enough to keep hitters skittish. Glasnow shows a big curve on occasion that's impressive when it works, and a changeup that's rough but promising. He's firmly a prospect of the 'good stuff, needs to master it' type. Another couple of years of easy repetition is all that's needed here. Give him a couple hundred more innings.
Full Scouting Report for Tyler Glasnow
SB 25 BA 46 SC 40 BP 42 SN ES 20 ML 27
Like a taller twin to Gerrit Cole, righty James Taillon is a geniune monster power arm from Texas (via Quebec), a very high-ceiling pitcher who has already cracked 100mph on radar guns. If that's not enough to get your attention, note that while his slider and change are below average, his curveball is universally acclaimed as a plus pitch. If he can hold his arm together under increasing workloads and refine his command and control to pro levels, he could be a viable #2 or #3 starter by 2014 or so, with a shot at being a genuine ace a little further down the road.
Full Scouting Report for Jameson Taillon
SB 31 BA 22 SC 17 BP 19 SN ES 27 ML 16
Georgia high schooler Austin Meadows is an outfield phenom who attracted a great deal of first round attention in MLB's 2013 first-year player draft before falling to the Pirates with the ninth overall selection. A phenom with five tool talent, Austin is one of the fastest baserunners in the country, with speed that would make him one of the fastest players in pro baseball if he can get the rest of his game to half that level. His swing is promising, featuring a smooth and easy load with the makings of real plus power from the left side. He's been compared to players like Andre Ethier and Jacoby Ellsbury, and not without reason: few ballplayers blend across-the-board abilities like this. The only thing that might keep him from a minor league roster is 2014 is his commitment to Clemson University.
Full Scouting Report for Austin Meadows
SB 46 BA 49 SC 38 BP 89 SN ES 35 ML 45
A slappy, scrappy, switch-hitting wheels player, Pirate prospect Alen Hanson was a low-visibility 2011 IFA signing from the Dominican, but one that earn more kudos for htose ever-impressive Pittsburgh scouts. Hanson would probably get more attention if his name included an Alvarez or Concepcion in there, something that looked more Latin and less Nordic. (At least 'Alexi'. Something. Make an effort, kid!)
Alexi is said to have the quick hands and feet necessary to stick at shortstop, but he also has a quick everything-else: plus speed is clearly his main offensive weapon. Power may never come, depending on how his slender frame fills out, but he's already showing superior on-base skill, and the Pirates should already be delighted with his development, no matter when he finds the ceiling.
Full Scouting Report for Alen Hanson
SB 64 BA 76 SC 61 BP SN ES 74 ML 67
Nobody expected young Josh Bell to sign in 2011, which is probably why he fell to the Pirates in round two of the draft. But one should never underestimate the allure of five million shiny dollars, and young Bell shocked other managers by inking with the Pirates and passing on the University of Texas. Bell immediately became the biggest bat in a Pirate system that's very lacking in offensive muscle, but his primo status doesn't only come from relative dearth: he's a valid top prospect all on his own merit.
Full Scouting Report for Josh Bell
SB 65 BA SC BP 77 SN ES 97 ML 74
A huge righthander in the Pirate system, Nicholas Kingham (not Kingman) is another young power arm in a system that's busting at the seams with them. Drafted fresh out of high school in 2010, he's busy going through the traditional 'fastball, fastball, fastball' period of his ongoing development with the Pirates, so it's difficult to judge how much more than that he'll be able to offer when the time comes. He did show off a quality change back in high school, as well as a very rough curve, so there's potential.
We haven't seen enough of him in pro ball to feel confident about his chances yet, but that 117:36 strikeout to walk ratio in the low-A NY-Penn League is encouraging.
Full Scouting Report for Nick Kingham
SB 74 BA 64 SC 34 BP 80 SN ES 73 ML
A solidly-built catcher/third-base prospect from Kent, Washington, Reese McGuire doesn't quite deserve the Bryce Harper comparisons he sometimes inspires, but he's not all that far off, either. An offensive monster at a young age, he should enjoy the benefits of further physical development over the next couple of years, which means those towering homers will get even more awe-inspiring. Best of all, he gets that power from a short, quick stroke that doesn't look like any kind of all-or-nothing swing. Behind the plate, he looks very very good, definitely good enough to stick at catcher if his body plays along. He's very young and very raw, but there are few players from the 2013 draft class with a higher ceiling.
Full Scouting Report for Reese McGuire
SB 83 BA 81 SC BP 59 SN ES ML
A powerful Colombian infielder who'll probably settle at second base, Pirate prospect Dilson Herrera rose to attention-worthy status by hitting his way out of Rookie ball (.281/341/.482) and into low-A at the age of 18. Herrera has a nice speed/power combination (twelve steals, eight dingers in sixty games) and decent enough foot and glovework to cover shortstop if necessary. He's raw, like any teenage player, but he shows a strong work ethic and natural aptitude for the trials of the middle infield. If his power is legitimate, he'll be a fast-riser in the system.
Full Scouting Report for Dilson Herrera
SB 95 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A mature prospect who baffles hitters with a mix of split-fingered fastballs and off-speed 'palmballs', Pirate reliever John Holdzkom is big, strong, and nearly-unhittable in short use. Originally signed by the Mets from the 2006 draft, elbow injuries pushed Holdzkom into independent baseball for a couple of seasons, but when he returned to the circuit, his stuff was nastier than ever. Signed by Pittsburgh in mid-2014 as a free agent, he looks more than able to be a significant bullpen contributor right now.
Full Scouting Report for John Holdzkom
SB 97 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A 4th round 2007 pick out of Newberry Park (Los Angeles) high school, first baseman Andrew Lambo fell lower than his talent dictated due to character concerns, but now that he's maturing, he's a civilized monster waiting to happen. The Dodgers preferred to use his all-around athletic ability in the outfield, but his new owners in Pittsburgh may reopen the question of Lambo as a future first baseman. In any case, he'll need to develop a little more contact ability if his power is going to have much impact: his .184 average across 60 AAA games last season wasn't exactly impressive.
Full Scouting Report for Andrew Lambo
SB 117 BA SC BP SN ES ML
The starting shortstop on the 18 and under U.S. National Team, Phoenix native Cole Tucker is a potent switch-hitter with a vicious line-drive stroke that's most deadly from the left side of the plate, especially when his plus speed is factored into the equation. He doesn't have much power yet, but doesn't need it: many of those gap doubles will bloom into home runs as he grows into his body, without any special effort required. In the field, he's got soft hands, plus range and a strong arm: everything one looks for in a true shortstop. It'll be a few years before the rest of his game catches up to the level of polish he shows in the field, but he should be worth the wait.
Full Scouting Report for Cole Tucker
SB 149 BA SC BP SN ES ML
The Pirates swear he's only eighteen years old, but young Luis Heredia sure looks a lot older than that, both physically and when you take a look at what he can do with a baseball. The big (6-6, 210) kid from Sinaloa throws hard: he touched 96mph in rookie ball as a sixteen-year old (!?), and he looks like as he grows into his body, he'll be able to increase number in the future, too.
Even as-is, though, that fastball will be enough if he can complement it with any decent secondary pitches. Good news for his mother and the fan club: Heredia's already packing a changeup that looks better than anything most 20-year olds can throw, and his work-in-progress curve is showing great movement, even if he can't really control it yet. He's only due to sample A-ball in 2013, which means he's still go a long way to go before he's wowing them in MLB, and we'll probably be hearing about all those other great Pirate pitching prospects first, but if his body holds together, the H-Bomb could be something special a few years down the road. Felix Hernandez comparisons are not completely outrageous here.
Full Scouting Report for Luis Heredia
SB 200 BA SC 87 BP SN ES ML
The younger brother of Oriole prospect John, righthanded pitcher Mitch Keller was selected and signed by the Pirates at the tail end of the 2014 Draft's second round. The younger Keller's fastball is a 92-94mph offering that can be slightly flat, but Keller controls it well and can maintain his velocity late into games. More impressive is the tilted curve that's gained a lot more break in the last year or two, and a better than average changeup that looks good in limited use so far. He'll be developed slowly, no doubt, but he could be a solid middle-of-the-rotation candidate for the Pirates only a couple of years from now.
Full Scouting Report for Mitch Keller
SB 224 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A polished prep pitcher who should provide some 'veteran' balance to the very very young core that Pittsburgh is building, the University of Mobile's Kyle McPherson is not surprisingly closer to the majors than most of that deservedly-hyped talent. The burly righthander sliced his way up to the majors last year, and should stick there in 2013, even if he doesn't break camp with the team. In three and a half seasons of minor league ball, he's now racked up 528 K's versus only 109 walks, pretty impressive numbers that should provide a long big league career.
Full Scouting Report for Kyle McPherson
SB 350 BA SC BP SN ES ML
An infielder with legit five-tool potential, Pirate prospect Jacoby Jones was drafted by the team in 2013's third round, and should take a long and slow route to MLB. Jones zipped up the charts when he won the Cape Cod League's home run derby last season, and his speed is either plus or plus-plus, depending on who you ask, so he's got the raw ability. In results-based viewpoints, however, he's clearly showing his inexperience. He struck out far too much (55 times in 139 ABs in that Cape Cod showcase), and he really hasn't found a home in the field yet, though his tools suggest the outfield might be best. It'll be awhile before he learns how to play well enough to really take advantage of his toolset, but if he develops as expected, he could be an all-around All Star quality player one day.
Full Scouting Report for Jacoby Jones
SB 397 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A young man who must have already dealt with more name mixups than he deserves, Connor Joe is a hard-hitting outfield prospect drafted by the Pirates in 2014. He's played first base and corner outfield, but he's most intriguing as a catcher, a position for which he's shown quite a lot of affinity. His arm is better than average, and his overall athleticism makes him a solid defender behind the plate. No matter where he plays the field, though, he should be a power-hitter at the plate, as his combination of raw strength and bat speed give him a high offensive ceiling. How long the Pirates let that bat idle while he learns the art of catching will define the beginning of his MLB career.
Full Scouting Report for Connor Joe
SB 430 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Chris McGuiness, a mature Pirate prospect originally drafted by the Red Sox, has also been through the Cleveland and Texas systems, even picking up 34 at-bats while a Ranger in 2013. The rest of that season, the sweet-swinging McGuiness smacked 11 homers and slashed a .246/.369/.423 line at the Rangers' AAA affiliate in Round Rock.
A patient slugger, McGuinesss has maintained a good walk rate while moving up the ladder, and he doesn't strike out as much as one might expect. He's got no speed to speak of, however, no real room for further development (he'll be 28 in the Spring of 2015), and he's exclusively a first-base type defender, if you know what we mean, so his options in the National League are somewhat limited. That said, he's a decent enough power threat from the left side, which is probably enough to do some good on an MLB bench somewhere... even if it takes a few more transactions for him to find a long-term home.
Full Scouting Report for Chris McGuiness
SB 442 BA SC 95 BP SN ES ML
A third round pick by the always-clever Pirates in the 2011 draft, and signed despite concerns about his future plans, ex-Hoosier Alex Dickerson is a slugger of the first order. He should help the Pirates offset a pitching-heavy talent pool in the near future. While dropping to the third round helped him fade from some writers' memories, his first-year pro line at low-A State College (.313/.393/.493) propelled him back into the top ranks.
A prototypical slugger, Dickerson is big, wide and strong. He's the kind of friend you'd call to help you move, or maybe to stand behind you while you visit someone who owes you money. Dickerson's left-handed swing is a bit long, but his bat speed seems more than adequate to cover that right now. He's not getting fooled by breaking balls yet, either, though he hasn't seen many truly great ones. We're dying to see him in Altoona. Until then, he's a couple of years away from the majors (let's say... mid-to-late 2014?), but if he continues to chew through pitching the way he has so far, he'll be a great asset by that time.
Full Scouting Report for Alex Dickerson
SB 470 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A raw hitter with good upside, Texas Tech's Barrett Barnes was drafted in 2012's Compensation Round by the offensively-challenged Pirates. Even if he reaches his potential, he won't be enough to power the Pirate offense all on his own, but he won't hurt the team, either. In the field, he's average to above-average, with a good arm and reliable glove. We're anxious to see what he does with higher-level pitching this season: if he finds his floor in AA, he'll be in Pittsburgh in 2014.
Full Scouting Report for Barrett Barnes
SB 472 BA SC BP SN ES ML