MLB Network Top 100 Prospects

Jameson Taillon headlines the Pirates prospects.

Last night, MLB Network revealed MLB.com’s top 100 prospects in the MLB.  Here is the complete list.

Pirates on the list:

8. Jameson Taillon — RHP — Pittsburgh Pirates

11. Gerrit Cole — RHP — Pittsburgh Pirates

40. Starling Marte — OF — Pittsburgh Pirates

69. Josh Bell — OF — Pittsburgh Pirates

More after the jump

Some notables were:

6. Manny Machado — SS — Baltimore Orioles

Machado was drafted right after Jameson Taillon in the 2010 MLB Draft, and has been compared to Alex Rodriguez.  Keith Law has said that Machado is “a potential All-Star offensively who is no worse than average with the glove.”  I don’t care how barren our pitching system was at the time, you have to draft the best player available at #2 in the draft.  Hell, you have to do it anywhere in the draft.  But I guess we’ll see who’s better when they’re both in the majors.  According to MLB.com, “While his first-season performance didn’t wholly reflect it, Machado hasn’t lost any of the outstanding tools that made him a No. 3 overall pick. He has tremendous bat speed and should hit for average and power down the road. He does need to improve his approach, see more pitches and show more discipline so he can tap into those offensive tools. Defensively, he’s just fine for shortstop, with good hands and more than enough arm for the spot. Some feel he’ll outgrow shortstop, necessitating a move to third, but there’s no need to worry about that just yet, if at all. With some natural growth and maturity, he could start fulfilling his massive potential soon.  An everyday, All-Star-caliber shortstop who fields his position well and hits in the middle of the lineup.”

ETA: 2013

9. Trevor Bauer — RHP — Arizona Diamondbacks

Bauer was selected third overall in the MLB Draft this year, two picks after Gerrit Cole.  According to MLB.com, “Bauer gets attention for some of his unorthodox methods, both in terms of his delivery style and his conditioning, eliciting comparisons to Tim Lincecum. He does a lot of long-tossing and has used many other techniques to allow his smaller frame to handle heavy workloads. That said, he can learn to be more efficient with his very fast repertoire. He has four outstanding pitches from which to choose. He can run his fastball up to 97 mph and sits comfortably in the mid-90s. His curve is a plus, top-to-bottom breaking ball. His slider is another plus offering. He also throws a very good changeup and a more-than-serviceable splitter. He’s willing to throw any of them at any point in the count. He showed by pitching well in Double-A that he’s the type of arm that should be big league ready in a hurry.  He may not look like it, but he has top-of-the-rotation stuff and pitchability.”

ETA: 2012

10. Dylan Bundy — RHP — Baltimore Orioles

Dylan Bundy was drafted fourth overall in the 2011 MLB draft, one pick after Trevor Bauer.  According to MLB.com, “Bundy uses long-tossing to build arm strength, and it seems to work for him. He’s not that big, but he’s strong and athletic, utilizing a four-pitch mix extremely well. His fastball is plus and he maintains velocity with smooth mechanics. He has two breaking pitches, a curve and slider, both of which are outstanding, and he also throws a changeup.  A faster-than-you’d-think riser in the system, one who will top the Orioles rotation one day.”

ETA: 2014

Now for the Pirates Prospects:

8. Jameson Taillon — RHP

Taillon was drafted second overall in the 2010 MLB Draft, sandwiched between Bryce Harper (#2) and Manny Machado (#6).  He’s 6’6″ and went 2-3 with a 3.98 ERA last year in West Virginia.  According to 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.  He has the stuff, size and presence to become the ace of the Pirates’ staff.”

ETA: 2013

11. Gerrit Cole — RHP

Gerrit Cole representing the Pirates in the Arizona Fall League

With the first pick in the 2011 Rule 4 Draft, the Pirates chose righty Gerrit Cole out of UCLA.  Cole  didn’t sign with the Pirates until the signing deadline midnight on August 16th.  He didn’t pitch an inning for any of the Pirates’ minor league teams, but he did play in the AFL.  In the Arizona Fall League, Cole threw just 15 innings, but he was able to strike out 16 batters (9.6 K/9), while walking just four (2.4 BB/9).  His .171 BAA came as a result of allowing just 10 hits in his fifteen innings.  His WHIP of 0.93 is pretty promising, but the sample size is only fifteen innings.  According to MLB.com, “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.  A No. 1-type starter who shouldn’t take very long to get to the big leagues.”

ETA: 2013

40. Starling Marte — OF

Starling Marte may be in the MLB as soon as this summer.

Marte is the only non-drafted prospect in the top-100 for the Pirates, as he was acquired as an international free agent in 2007.  He has been tearing it up in AA,  hitting a triple-slash of .332/.370/.500 in 2011, despite not exactly being known as a “power hitter.”  The scary thing is that most of his bases came on doubles — he had 38 doubles in 2011.  No, that is not a typo.  Thirty-eight doubles.  He also had eight triples in 2011.  He did hit 12 home runs, which is surprising because he was never known as a power-hitter.  Even if you take out all of his home runs, he hit for a .410 slugging percentage – he is that fast and that good at finding gaps.  According to MLB.com, “Marte has always shown an ability to hit for average, and he proved he can do it at a higher level, winning the Double-A Eastern League batting title in 2011. Improved plate discipline will help that even more. He started to grow into his power as well and there could be more as he matures. He has the speed to be a successful basestealer but needs to work on cutting down his caught-stealing rate. With more work, he’ll be a good basestealer, and he is an excellent defensive center fielder with more than enough arm to move to a corner if needed.  An exciting, toolsy everyday outfielder who could team up with Andrew McCutchen to make a dynamic outfield duo in Pittsburgh.”  The Pirates will have a problem every team wants to have when moving into the future — where should they put their two five-tool outfielders who can play elite defense in center field?

ETA: This year

69. Josh Bell — OF

It took a miracle to sign Josh Bell. Luckily there was an angel over Pittsburgh in August.

Somehow, Neal Huntington was able to sign Josh Bell on the signing deadline despite sending a letter to each MLB team advising them not to draft him because he was planning on going to the University of Texas.  But the Pirates took a shot in the dark and drafted him in the second round in the 2011 Draft.  Bell was one of the best high school bats in the draft, hitting .552 with 14 home runs in 157 games at the Dallas Jesuit High School.  According to MLB.com, “Bell was one of the best high-school bats in the 2011 Draft class but was deemed unsignable until the Pirates took a shot and got an above-slot deal done in the second round. He is a legitimate switch-hitter who has plus hit and power tools from both sides of the plate. He has an advanced approach at the plate and will work counts and draw walks along the way. He played center field in high school, but with average speed, he’ll probably move over to a corner spot, where he should be an above-average defender. He has the arm, and certainly the bat, to profile well in right field.  Plenty of average and power from both sides, an All-Star-caliber player who hits in the middle of the lineup.”

ETA: 2015

Like every prospects list, there is always a snub.  This time, the snub from the Pirates was Luis Heredia.  Heredia is a 17 year old, 6’6″ righty who can already throw in the mid-90s and also throws a slider, a curveball, and a changeup.  The Pirates signed Heredia at the ripe age of 16 years old in August of 2010, beating out the Yankees and multiple other teams and wrote out a check for $2.6 million.  Baseball America called Heredia the best pitcher on the IFA market.

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