Ranking the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Top 10 Prospects Heading into 2014

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Ranking the Pittsburgh Pirates' Top 10 Prospects Heading into 2014

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Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates were a surprise playoff team in 2013, but that does not mean they are automatically switched into the large-market team category. The Pirates still have a limited budget to work with despite all of the extra revenue that flowed in from extra home games in the postseason and record-setting attendance last season.

The Pirates must protect their prospects unlike almost any other team because of their budget limitations. They are always going to be a small-market team; the only way they will ever be able to spend a ton of money is if someone like Mark Cuban buys the team, and that isn’t happening. Prospects are crucial to the Bucs’ success; they need to constantly keep the farm system stocked and ready to replace players that they lose to free agency when they become too expensive to keep.

When general manager Neal Huntington joined the Pirates their farm system was virtually empty. In just six years, Huntington has transformed the system from one of the worst in baseball to what some think is the best from top to bottom. Many people, including myself, do think the Pirates have the best farm system in baseball. The Bucs’ system is deep and it also includes potential All-Star players at the top.

Everyone has their own opinions when it comes to prospects. Certain people like some players while other folks like different players. We all make our own prospect rankings, so read on to see if my rankings are similar to yours.

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10. Barrett Barnes

Barrett Barnes
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA Today Sports

Barrett Barnes, much like Josh Bell, has seen his stock take significant hit after significant hit due to injuries. He has spent so much time on the disabled list that he hasn't gotten enough plate appearances to develop.

In two seasons between two levels, Barnes still has just 359 plate appearances and 84 games played. He has a career minor league slash line of .276/.365/.422.

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9. Luis Heredia

Luis Heredia
Tom Szczerbowski-USA Today Sports

Another tall pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates system', Luis Heredia is just 19 years old and has already been in the system for three seasons. In 2013, Heredia pitched to a 3.05 ERA with 7.6 K/9 in 65 innings in A-ball. His main issue has been and still is walks. Last season Heredia allowed 5.1 BB/9.

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8. Reese McGuire

Reese McGuire
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

The second of the Pittsburgh Pirates' two first round picks in 2013, Reese McGuire is a high school catcher that is advanced for his age. He has experience calling his own games, something that not many high school catchers have.

At just 18 years old, McGuire hit .323/.380/.380 between two levels combined in his first season of professional baseball in 2013.

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7. Nick Kingham

Nick Kingham
Rob Foldy-USA Today Sports

Nick Kingham is a big 6-foot-5 starting pitcher that reached Double-A last season. Between two levels in 2013, Kingham pitched to a 2.89 ERA with 9.0 K/9 in 143.1 innings pitched.

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6. Tyler Glasnow

Tyler Glasnow
Rob Foldy-USA Today Sports

Tyler Glasnow seemingly came out of nowhere. A 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher that is just 20 years old, he pitched 111.1 innings in 2013 with a 2.18 ERA. Glasnow had an insanely high strikeout rate for a starting pitcher at 13.3 K/9 and allowed just 4.4 H/9. The only not so good statistic Glasnow had last season was 4.9 BB/9.

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5. Josh Bell

Josh Bell
Jeff Curry-USA Today Sports

Drafted in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Josh Bell had the talent to be a first-rounder but teams were worried about not being able to sign him. He had interest in going to college, but the Pittsburgh Pirates offered him enough money to lure him away from school.

Injuries have really slowed down Bell's development or he might be higher ranked. Still in A-ball, Bell hit .279/.353/.453 in 519 plate appearances in 2013.

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4. Alen Hanson

Alen Hanson
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

Alen Hanson is the Pittsburgh Pirates' only middle-infield prospect with much potential at the moment. His defense has scouts wondering if he can stay at shortstop for the long-term, but it seems like the Pirates hope he is able to. Hanson, 21, reached Double-A last season and got 150 plate appearances there. In 559 plate appearances combined between two levels, Hanson hit .274/.329/.427.

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3. Austin Meadows

Austin Meadows
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

One of the two first round draft picks in the 2013 draft for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Austin Meadows showed a great combination of power and speed last season. Between two very low levels in the minor leagues, Meadows hit for a .316/.424/.554 and put up a .977 OPS.

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2. Gregory Polanco

Gregory Polanco
Brad Penner-USA Today Sports

Gregory Polanco rose rapidly through the Pittsburgh Pirates' system in 2013. He began in high-A ball and eventually passed through Double-A to finish with Triple-A Indianapolis. He has shown very good plate discipline, walking just as often as he struck out in Double-A Altoona last season. Polanco walked in 12.6 percent of his plate appearances in Double-A. In all three levels combined, Polanco hit for a .285/.356/.434 slash line with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases.

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1. Jameson Taillon

Jameson Taillon
Kim Klement-USA Today Sports

The second overall pick in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft, Jameson Taillon is on the verge of being promoted to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He will likely spend a month or two in the minor leagues in 2014 before being called up to the big leagues in June. Taillon is a big 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher with a plus fastball, plus curveball and a developing changeup.

In 2013, Taillon pitched in Double-A and Triple-A but made just six starts in Triple-A. In the two levels combined in 2013, Taillon pitched to a 3.73 ERA in 147.1 innings. He showed decent control with 3.2 BB/9 and struck out more than the average pitcher with 8.7 K/9. Taillon will most likely develop into a pitcher with even more strikeouts and less walks. He is a potential ace.

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