Pittsburgh Pirates Have Two of MLB's Top 11 Prospects

By Troy Pfaff

The future of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff is as brights as it has ever been, according to MLB.com’s Top 100 prospect list.

The Pirates have two pitchers ranked in the top 11 players of that list, highlighted by 20-year-old right-hander Jameson Taillon. Taillon is ranked the eighth overall prospect in the MLB, while 21-year-old Gerrit Cole (above) comes in at no. 11.

Taillon’s scouting report from MLB.com:

Taillon uses all of his 6-foot-6-inch frame well on the mound, with a good downward plane, which should allow him to keep the ball down in the zone and continue to generate groundouts. He has a plus fastball that touches the upper 90s that he can maintain deeper into starts. His curve is a plus pitch, and his second breaking ball, a slider, can be as unhittable at times. He has a good feel for the changeup and just needs to throw it more to give him four outstanding offerings, all of which he can throw for strikes. With the gloves coming off in 2012, he should be able to become a more complete pitcher.

Taillon’s estimated time of arrival is the 2013 season, according to the list.

As for Cole, MLB.com’s scouts see him as “A No. 1-type starter who shouldn’t take very long to get to the big leagues.” The rest of his scouting report:

With the exception of a rough outing in the Rising Stars Game, Cole avoided overthrowing and opening his front side too much, the pitfalls that caused him to be hittable at times during his junior year at UCLA despite plus stuff across the board. He can reach the upper 90s easily with his fastball, even registering some triple digits, and sits at 95-96 mph deep into starts. He throws a hard slider in the upper 80s and even his changeup is a power pitch. All three are plus offerings, and he can throw all for strikes. He was catching too much of the plate at times last year at UCLA, but when he’s repeating his delivery correctly, he keeps things down in the zone, making him even tougher to hit.

Cole’s ETA is also the 2013 season.

In addition to Taillon and Cole, outfielders Starling Marte (40) and Josh Bell (69) also made the top 100.

The 23-year-old Marte is estimated to arrive in the big league’s some time during the 2012 season, and is described as “An exciting, toolsy everyday outfielder who could team up with Andrew McCutchen to make a dynamic outfield duo in Pittsburgh.”

Bell, 19, has “Plenty of average and power from both sides,” and is seen as a potential “All-Star-caliber player who hits in the middle of the lineup,” though he isn’t expected to arrive in the majors until 2015.

One surprising omission from the list was Pirates pitching prospect Luis Heredia. Heredia has the potential to compete with both Taillon and Cole, but at just 17 years old, he is a true project. Heredia made many scouting agencies’ top 100 lists prior to the 2011 season, and will likely do so again this year.

Heredia is expected to start 2012 with the State College Spikes, according to his Pirates Prospects player page.

An interesting tidbit from Pirates Prospects: “MLB graded the rankings on a points system, giving 100 points to the number one prospect, 99 to the number two prospect, and so on. The Pirates finished third with 276 points. Kansas City finished second with 290 points, and the Seattle Mariners finished first with 329 points.”

The future is looking good, Bucs fans.

Follow Troy on Twitter @TroyPfaff

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