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Pittsburgh Pirates Top 20 Prospects for 2010

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Pittsburgh Pirates Top 20 Prospects for 2010

All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on February 2nd!

1) Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Grade A: Bat looks excellent. Even if he moves to first base, his bat will be good enough for him to be an All-Star. Upside: David Ortiz.

2) Jose Tabata, OF, Grade B: I don't know if I agree with the Pirates about his power, but I do believe them about his age and at 21 he is still VERY young with high upside.

3) Tony Sanchez, C, Grade B: He was a slight overdraft but I like him, excellent defense and it doesn't look like his power was all aluminum.

4) Zack Von Rosenberg, RHP, Grade B-: This is an aggressive grade for a high school pitcher with just one pro inning under his belt, but I really like his pitchability and have a strong intuitive feeling about him. He still has some projection left, too. Going to take a risk with this one and put him ahead of Alderson and Lincoln.

5) Tim Alderson, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Loss of velocity and break on the curve is troubling, but he's still a guy who held his own in Double-A at age 20. Stock has dropped but still an intriguing property as an inning-eater type. Ranks ahead of Lincoln because he's younger.

6) Brad Lincoln, RHP, Grade B-, Borderline C+.. Command looks all the way back, but components are more those of an inning-eater type than a true ace.

7) Chase D'arnaud, INF, Grade C+: Speed, on-base ability, solid defense, might develop more pop. At worst a good utility guy and could get beyond that.

8) Starling Marte, OF, Grade C+: Uber-tools, particularly speed, but raw with the strike zone.

9) Rudy Owens, LHP, Grade C+: Outstanding K/BB ratio. Was hittable after moving up to Lynchburg, though he maintained a good strikeout rate. Great command of decent stuff but need to see in Double-A.

10) Ronald Uviedo, RHP, Grade C+: Live arm stands out but unsure of future role.

11) Victor Black, RHP, Grade C+: Another live arm, Dallas Baptist product has high ceiling but needs better control.

12) Daniel McCutchen, RHP, Grade C+: Old for a rookie at age 27, but has nothing left to prove in the minors and knows how to pitch. Another guy with a great K/BB ratio.

13) Brett Lorin, RHP, Grade C+: Sleeper prospect snapped up from the Mariners, could rank as high as 10th.

14) Robbie Grossman, OF, Grade C+: High strikeout rate is off-putting, but he also draws walks, steals bases, and has untapped power potential.

15) Diego Moreno, RHP, Grade C+: Lively relief arm came out of nowhere, need to see at higher levels but could advance quickly as a pen asset.

16) Justin Wilson, LHP, Grade C+: Component ratios at Lynchburg weren't great, but he has a good arm and lefties with above average stuff get plenty of chances.

17) Colton Cain, LHP, Grade C+: Could rank as high as 12th. Another high-ceiling arm bought away from college like Von Rosenberg, though not as polished.

18) Gorkys Hernandez, OF, Grade C: Baseball America has him at 10th on their Pirates list due to his tools, but I'm starting to doubt the bat and his skills seem to be stagnating.

19) Trent Stevenson, RHP, Grade C: Another young projectable high school arm bought out of college ball.

20) Brooks Pounders, RHP, Grade C: Less projectable than Stevenson but another interesting prep arm. The rotation in the New York-Penn League and/or Low-A is going to be really intriguing in 2010.

OTHERS: (Grade Cs): Ramon Aguero, RHP; Nate Baker, LHP; Ramon Cabrera, C; Evan Chambers, OF; Jarek Cunningham, INF; Zack Dodson, LHP; Wesley Freeman, OF; Brian Friday, SS; Brock Holt, INF; Jeff Inman, RHP; Quincy Latimore, OF; Jeff Locke, LHP; Jordy Mercer, SS; Quinton Miller, RHP; Bryan Morris, RHP; Danny Moskos, LHP; John Raynor, OF; Hunter Strickland, RHP; Donald Veal, LHP; Neil Walker, 3B.

This farm system is improving, thanks to trades, more aggressive drafting, and additional scouting in Latin America.

Alvarez is the crown jewel, of course, and there isn't a lot really that needs to be said about him. Tabata is a more difficult case, since even if they're right about his age, he risks tweenerdom if his power doesn't come along. I like Tony Sanchez a lot and people need to lay off about the decision to draft him. They poured a ton of money into projectable guys in later rounds, and I think the strategy of mixing skill players with tool players will pay dividends.

The system is thin in position players beyond the top group. I like d'Arnaud but he may end up as just a good role player and not a starter. We'll know more once he faces Double-A pitching. Marte could be anything from a big star to a huge bust. Heavy investments have been made in young pitching recently. I like Von Rosenberg the best of the bunch, but Cain, Pounders, Stevenson, Dodson, and Miller all have significant upside potential. There are also live-armed guys who could help in the bullpen relatively soon, and there are inning-eaters such as Lincoln, Alderson, and Strickland to provide some leavening to the upside guys.

If what I saw in Arizona is any indication, Donald Veal could be a surprise success in 2010.

The Pirates could use some additional bats to go with all these arms, but overall this is an organization on the right track in terms of player development. The debut of Andrew McCutchen was just the first step.