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Pittsburgh Pirates Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Pittsburgh Pirates Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

This list was originally published January 1, 2009. This is a REVIEW of the PRE-SEASON list for 2009, not a revision of that list. This is a REVIEW of the old list. I'm not doing new grades or lists until I start working on the 2010 book.

1) Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Grade A-: Slow start at Lynchburg, but has been on fire since reaching Double-A, hitting .325/.408/.558. Main questions revolve around defense.

2) Andrew McCutchen, OF, Grade B+: Hitting .287/.358/.479 for the Pirates with 15 steals in 17 attempts over 70 games. Looks great.

3) Jose Tabata, OF, Grade B+: Hitting .307/.372/.422 between Double-A and Triple-A. Power is still questionable but still just 21 years old.

4) Bryan Morris, RHP, Grade B-: 5.40 ERA with 28/28 K/BB in 63 innings for Lynchburg. Sleeper call that doesn't look so hot now. Strikeout rate very low.

5) Daniel McCutchen, RHP, Grade C+: 13-6, 3.47 with a 110/29 K/BB in 143 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis. Excellent command stands out.

6) Neil Walker, 3B, Grade C+: Hitting .256/.304/.464 for Indianapolis. Turns 24 next month, just doesn't look like an impact bat at this point.

7) Jimmy Barthmaier, RHP, Grade C+: Blew out elbow. Tommy John.

8) Evan Meek, RHP, Grade C+: 3.45 ERA with 42/29 K/BB in 47 major league innings. A competent reliever, needs to sharpen his control.

9) Robbie Grossman, OF, Grade C+: .270/.376/.384 with 32 steals in 43 attempts for Class A West Virginia. 145 strikeouts in 407 at-bats is scary, but he's got tools and youth.

10) Jim Negrych, 2B, Grade C+: .272/.366/.362 for Double-A Altoona. Controls the zone well, lacks pop.

11) Shelby Ford, 2B, Grade C+: Hit .188/.240/.279 in 86 games for Indianapolis, sent back to Altoona earlier this month and hitting .236/.323.400. Quite disappointing.

12) Matt Hague, 1B-3B, Grade C+: Hitting .291/.353/.402 for Lynchburg. Skilled contact hitter but lack of power a problem at his positions.

13) Ron Uviedo, RHP, Grade C+: 3.53 ERA with 72/26 K/BB in 94 innings for Lynchburg, 93 hits. Doing OK.

14) Brian Friday, SS, Grade C: Hitting .260/.361/.389 for Altoona. Controls the zone well. Good defensive reputation but looks like a utility guy unless bat improves.

15) Quinton Miller, RHP, Grade C: 5.16 ERA with 30/21 K/BB in 45 innings for West Virginia. Sleeper/projection pick still asleep.

16) Romulo Sanchez, RHP, Grade C: Now in Yankees system, 4.71 ERA with 63/34 K/BB in 63 innings in Triple-A, 69 hits. Not a lot to get excited about. Still has a cool name.

17) Donald Veal, LHP, Grade C: Rule 5 guy from Cubs, has had problems staying healthy this year.

18) Brad Lincoln, RHP, Grade C: 2.28 ERA with 65/18 K/BB in 75 innings for Altoona, 5.20 ERA with 36/10 K/BB in 55 innings for Indianapolis. Hasn't held up as well in Triple-A but overall this is a successful season considering injury comeback.

19) Dan Moskos, LHP, Grade C: 3.78 ERA with 62/53 K/BB in 131 innings for Altoona, 137 hits. Don't like the low strikeout rate, but 2.06 GO/AO is nice and he still has a chance to be a useful pitcher.

20) Jarek Cunningham, 3B, Grade C: Hasn't played this year.

The 2010 list will look a lot different given the further heavy investments the Pirates made in the draft this year. Among the group listed here, Alvarez performance at Altoona eases doubts about his bat (though his strikeout rate remains high and his BABIP is insane over the last two months). I'm doubtful about his third base future unless his error rate comes way down. . .his .909 fielding percentage isn't going to cut it and questions persist about his range among scouts. MinorLeagueSplits.com has his defense at exactly average overall. Still, overall he looks better than he did two months ago. McCutchen's performance in the majors has been everything the Pirates could have hoped. Tabata's power hasn't developed, but he's still very young.