7/27/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
Glasnow jumps to top of Bucs' updated Top 20 list
Hard-throwing Class A right-hander is No. 20 overall prospect in baseball
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP
Preseason rank: 3
MLB Top 100 rank: 20 (Preseason: 27)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 60
The Pirates have been cautious with Glasnow, but he has taken off as the reins have been loosened. As a 19-year-old in 2013, Glasnow led all Bucs Minor Leaguers with 164 strikeouts in 111 1/3 innings at Class A West Virginia. A back injury slowed him in early 2014, but Glasnow was back to dominating hitters by the end of April.
Glasnow overpowers hitters with his fastball, which sits in the mid-90s, and can reach the upper-90s. His curveball plays well off his fastball, though it is still inconsistent. Glasnow's changeup has improved, and if it continues to do so, he could have three above-average offerings.
Glasnow's biggest shortcoming is his command. While that's to be expected for a tall, young power pitcher, he will need to continue to improve in repeating his delivery as he advances. Glasnow's athleticism gives him a good chance to do so, though he will need time to work it out.
2. Jameson Taillon, RHP
Preseason rank: 2
MLB Top 100 rank: 32 (Preseason: 16)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 60
Taillon was sandwiched between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in the 2010 Draft. Harper and Machado are both already All-Stars. Taillon was on the verge of joining them in the Major Leagues before it was discovered that he needed Tommy John surgery in April 2014.
Taillon is a classic power right-hander, mixing good size with a mid-90s fastball and a hard curveball. His changeup has also made strides, giving him a chance for three above-average pitches. Taillon's fastball has good sinking action, but it tends to flatten out and become easier to hit if he leaves it up in the zone.
Taillon commands his pitches well and earns praise for his poise and confidence on the mound. The Bucs hope he will be able to join Gerrit Cole at the front of their big league rotation once he recovers from surgery.
3. Josh Bell, OF
Preseason rank: 6
MLB Top 100 rank: 33 (Preseason:74)
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 60
Bell was believed to be unsignable going into the 2011 Draft, but the Pirates took a chance and shocked the industry when they got a deal done. Bell's professional debut was derailed by a torn meniscus in 2012, but he stayed healthy in '13 and showed what all the fuss was about.
Bell is a gifted hitter from both sides of the plate, with the ability to hit for power and average. His already impressive raw power is expected to get even better as he develops as a hitter and some of his doubles start going over the fence. Bell has a mature approach at the plate and a good understanding of the strike zone.
Bell isn't a speedster, but he covers ground well enough in the outfield and has a strong arm. He profiles as a prototypical right fielder.
4. Austin Meadows, OF
Preseason rank: 4
MLB Top 100 rank: 50 (Preseason: 45)
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 55 | Run: 65 | Arm: 40 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55
The top two high school position players in the 2013 Draft class were Meadows and Clint Frazier, Meadows' friend and crosstown rival from Loganville, Ga. While the Indians selected Frazier with the fifth overall pick and Meadows going to Pittsburgh at No. 9 overall, the debate over which Georgia outfielder is better continues to rage.
Meadows looked excellent in his professional debut, showing off the five-tool potential scouts saw from him as an amateur. But Meadows missed three months of the 2014 season with hamstring issues. He has a smooth left-handed swing and an advanced approach at the plate. Meadows' swing is more geared to produce line drives to all fields, but he projects to develop above-average power as he matures.
Meadows has plus speed and uses it well in the outfield. He is a center fielder now and has a good chance to stay there, despite being considered big for his age.
5. Nick Kingham, RHP
Preseason rank: 8
MLB Top 100 rank: 66 (Preseason: NA)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55
Over the course of multiple Drafts, the Pirates aggressively went after high-risk, high-reward high school pitching in later rounds. Kingham was one of those picks, given an above-slot deal in 2010. He might be the first from that crop to impact the big league rotation.
At first glance, it might be easy to put the "mid-rotation" label on Kingham, but there might be more than meets the eye. He has more velocity on his fastball, hitting the mid 90s regularly, than the typical command-and-control starter. Kingham's changeup has improved so much that it might be his second-best offering, and his curve gives him three Major League average or better pitches in his repertoire.
It all comes from Kingham's big 6-foot-5 frame and clean delivery. He has improved every year that he's been with the Bucs, and he is poised to knock on the door in 2014.
6. Alen Hanson, SS
Preseason rank: 5
MLB Top 100 rank: 80 (Preseason: 67)
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 45 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55
Hanson was one of the Pirates' breakout prospects in 2012, and he continued that progress in '13, finishing his second year of full-season ball with Double-A Altoona. Hanson built on that momentum during a full season in Altoona in 2014.
Hanson has fast hands, helping him square up balls consistently from both sides of the plate. He has more power than his frame would suggest, and he can drive balls to all fields. Hanson has above-average speed and aggressively uses his speed on the basepaths, but he is still learning how to be a basestealer.
For all his offensive prowess, Hanson remains a work in progress at shortstop. He has good range and his infield actions are improved, but his arm strength is fringy. Scouts are divided on whether Hanson can remain at shortstop or if he is better suited for second base. No matter where he ends up defensively, Hanson's bat will play.
7. Reese McGuire, C
Preseason rank: 7
MLB Top 100 rank: 81 (Preseason: NA)
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 45 | Arm: 65 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55
After selecting Meadows in the 2013 Draft, the Pirates nabbed McGuire five picks later at No. 14. He was a veteran of the USA Baseball program and scouts considered him to be the top catcher in the Draft class.
McGuire is the all-around package. He has a smooth left-handed swing, and he has a knack for barreling up balls. McGuire's big frame portends solid power when he matures. His defense is advanced for a teenager, his athleticism makes him a good receiver and he has an above-average arm.
McGuire earns praise for his makeup and his high baseball IQ. Those intangibles, combined with his tools, give him everything necessary to become a leader behind the plate for the Bucs.
8. Harold Ramirez, OF
Preseason rank: 9
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 45 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
If Harold Ramirez had the frame of Gregory Polanco, he might have received more attention. His tools should allow him to eventually get more acclaim as he moves up the Pirates' ladder.
The Colombian outfielder who got just over $1 million to sign with the Bucs will still be a teenager for the 2014 season, but he gave full-season ball a try, more than holding his own in the South Atlantic League. Ramirez has solid tools across the board and upside to spare. The center fielder runs well, and he has the ability to steal a base and cover ground in the outfield. Ramirez's bat may carry him up the ladder, with the chance to hit for both average and surprising power, given his size.
Pittsburgh has considerable depth in the outfield, from the big leagues all the way down, so there's no need to rush Ramirez. But the payoff could be considerable.
9. Cole Tucker, SS
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
When the Pirates realized Tucker, a high school shortstop from Arizona, wouldn't be around for their second selection in the 2014 Draft, they went ahead and nabbed him at No. 24 overall.
Tucker is an athletic shortstop with a very good chance of staying at the premium position. A switch-hitter with a projectable body, Tucker is a better hitter from the left side right now. There isn't much power at the moment, but he does have room to add strength to his frame. Tucker's best offensive tool will always be his speed, which plays well on both sides of the ball. He has the range, hands, arm and instincts to hold his position as well. Tucker's defense is ahead of his offense right now, but there is projection in his bat.
Tucker is praised for his work ethic and makeup, and although it might take a while for him to reach his potential, there's no question he won't be outworked trying to get there.
10. Mitch Keller, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
Saving money with their first two picks in the 2014 Draft enabled the Pirates to go slightly over pick value to sign Keller, the top prospect from the state of Iowa, away from his college commitment to North Carolina.
Keller, whose older brother Jon pitches in the Orioles' system, took a huge leap during his senior year to move up Draft boards in a hurry. A spike in velocity had the right-hander throwing 90-94 mph, thanks to getting in much better shape. Keller's 11-to-5 curveball has gotten harder and tighter as well, giving him a second potential above-average pitch. He hasn't needed it much, but he shows some aptitude for a changeup, as well.
Keller is still learning to harness his stuff, but the Bucs have shown a willingness to patiently develop young, projectable arms in the past, something they'll have to do to help Keller reach his potential.
11. Trey Supak, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Hailing from the same Texas high school as Reds right-hander Homer Bailey, Supak took an over-pick-value deal to sign rather than attend the University of Houston, where his uncle had been an All-American pitcher.
Supak's solid stuff, projectability, makeup and bloodlines, make him an intriguing prospect. He already throws 88-92 mph, and there's room for growth in his 6-foot-5 frame -- with more angle than life currently on his fastball. Supak has a feel for spinning the ball, but needs to add more power to his curve. He also could use more deceptive arm speed with his changeup, though it has some promising fade.
Supak has a loose arm that works well, and he could have three solid or better pitches once he gets stronger and maintains a consistent arm slot. With a former All-American uncle and a father who starred collegiately as well, the upside is clearly there.
12. JaCoby Jones, 2B/OF
Preseason rank: 18
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 65 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
From a pure raw tools standpoint, there weren't many better players in the 2013 Draft class than Jones. In terms of performance, well, that's a different story.
Jones has the tools to do just about everything on the baseball field, but they didn't play out too consistently during his career at LSU. The Pirates felt the athleticism was worth taking a shot in the second round. Jones was having a strong pro debut before a knee injury ended his season. The approach was to simply throw him out there defensively and free up his offense, which worked initially. Jones saw most of his game time in center field, got reps at shortstop and he played shortstop exclusively while performing well in his full-season debut.
Wherever he ends up, the Bucs think Jones is an up-the-middle athlete. If they can unlock the toolbox, the dividends could be huge.
13. Willy Garcia, OF
Preseason rank: 11
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
If you showed up to see Garcia play on the right day, you might see the best player on the field. On other days, you might leave scratching your head.
There's no question Garcia has some tools in his big, strong and athletic frame. A Gulf Coast League teammate with Polanco and Hanson, Garcia has been a bit slower to develop than his counterparts, though he'll still be just 21 years old for the 2014 season. While still working to find a level of consistency, Garcia has some serious right-handed raw power. He will be able to tap into that power more if he can refine his approach and learn to not try to do too much at the plate. With a strong arm and his offensive upside, Garcia profiles well as a future right fielder.
Polanco and Hanson may have moved more quickly, but time is still on Garcia's side.
14. Luis Heredia, RHP
Preseason rank: 10
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
They say a little adversity can be an outstanding teaching tool. If that's the case, Heredia could be ready for a big jump forward after what many perceived to be a bit of a step backward.
The Mexican teenager, who signed for $2.6 million, came to Spring Training in 2013 out of shape, and his performance, as well as the amount of innings he was able to log, did not live up to expectations. Still, Heredia did manage to compete in full-season ball at a young age despite struggling with command and fastball velocity as a result of his conditioning. When he's right, he's shown the ability to deliver a fastball that hits the mid-90s, a hard curve and a changeup.
The Pirates were encouraged that Heredia started taking his conditioning seriously, but he missed two months in 2014 with shoulder soreness, once again cutting into his development time.
15. Wyatt Mathisen, 3B
Preseason rank: 15
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
The Pirates knew that Mathisen -- a high school product who didn't catch much in high school because of his athleticism -- would take time to develop. An injury-interrupted first full season didn't help in that regard, either. The Bucs made the decision in 2014 to move him to third base, at least for the short term.
Pittsburgh's aggressive promotion of Mathisen to full-season ball in 2013 proved to be challenging for the Texas prepster, particularly defensively. Shoulder problems hurt his development, but Mathisen made strides offensively at instructional league, and the Pirates believe in his bat and work ethic.
Mathisen should get a mulligan for 2013, and the move to third will allow him to let his bat develop more, not to mention free up a playing-time logjam with McGuire.
16. Barrett Barnes, OF
Preseason rank: 13
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
The biggest thing holding Barnes back so far has been health. If he can stay on the field, he has the chance to contribute.
Barnes turned out to be the Pirates' top signee in 2012 when Mark Appel didn't sign. A variety of leg issues allowed him to amass only 84 games in just over a year of pro ball. Barnes does have solid tools across the board. He has the chance to hit, with some power, from the right side of the plate. Barnes has the speed to steal a base and potentially stay in center field, though some think left field might be his eventual home.
Before figuring that out, Barnes needs to get a full season of at-bats in. If it can all come together, he has the potential to at the very least be a valuable fourth outfielder type.
17. Clay Holmes, RHP
Preseason rank: 16
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
The Pirates gave Holmes a record $1.2 million bonus in the ninth round of the 2011 Draft, seeing the size, stuff and potential of a future big league workhorse. Tommy John surgery in March 2014 put his development on hold.
When healthy, Holmes profiles well with his strong 6-foot-5 frame and potential three-pitch mix. His fastball can touch the mid-90s, with heavy sink to elicit a lot of ground balls. Holmes' changeup has developed a good deal as a pro and is now his second-best pitch, while his breaking ball too often ends up being a slurve. Consistency of that pitch will be key for Holmes, along with refining his command as he moves forward.
Holmes struggled in 2013, a victim of his own expectations as much as anything else. Now he'll have to work his way back from surgery and try to wipe the slate clean.
18. Connor Joe, C
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
After spending his first two college seasons at first base, Joe made the move behind the plate during the summer in the Cape Cod League and was named an All-Star in the elite summer college circuit. That, plus a strong junior year, enabled him to climb up Draft boards and be taken by the Pirates in the Competitive Balance Round A.
Joe caught, played first and right field for San Diego in 2014. The Bucs didn't plan to have Joe catch at the outset, and instead they let him play a corner outfield spot to get his feet wet. That doesn't mean he won't see time behind the plate in the future, where he does have the skills to stick there. Joe is very athletic and runs well, especially for a catcher or a first baseman. He doesn't get cheated at the plate, and his combination of bat speed and strength should mean he hits for average and some power at the next level.
Joe's value obviously is higher if he's behind the plate, but he might have enough at the plate to propel him up the ladder regardless of where he plays.
19. Adrian Sampson, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Sometimes seeing how a young player deals with adversity tells a team a lot about him. That was the case with Sampson, who struggled for much of the 2013 season with the move up to the Florida State League. But Sampson finished the year strongly.
The lessons learned carried over and allowed Sampson to move up to Double-A in 2014. He has the chance to have at least three Major League average offerings. Sampson throws a fastball that can touch 93-94 mph, a very good breaking ball and an improving changeup. He throws strikes and is still learning how to refine his command within the strike zone.
The improvement Sampson has shown -- from fastball command to his secondary offerings -- has the young right-hander headed in the direction of having a mid-rotation-starter-type ceiling.
20. Cody Dickson, LHP
Preseason rank: 20
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Armed with good stuff and a projectable frame, Dickson's up-and-down performance at Sam Houston State held down his Draft value in 2013, with the Pirates as the beneficiary.
If everything comes together for the southpaw, Dickson could be quite the fourth-round value. Dickson's fastball can touch the mid-90s, and it should get there more consistently as he matures physically. His breaking ball is above-average and his changeup is good enough to give him a third Major League average offering. While Dickson goes right after hitters, delivery issues did hamper his command during his junior year of college.
The stuff and projectability from the left side gives Dickson the chance to be a mid-rotation starter at the big league level, not to mention a Draft steal for the Bucs if he can discover a level of consistency.