Thursday, December 5, 2013

DBS Top 30 Prospects 2014 - #10 to #6

For the top 10, I thought I would switch it up a bit. For these guys, all elite guys that were like a forgotten dialect under the Dave Littlefield regime, I'm going to put a projection and an estimated time of arrival to Pittsburgh.

And as always, check the first post for an explanation about methodology and eligibility.

Any good gunfighter names left in the Top 10?

#10 Reese McGuire, C (19), SS/A -- 
The second of two 1st round picks for the Pirates in 2013, McGuire had an excellent debut in the minors.  He spent the vast majority of his time in the Rookie Gulf Coast League, with a 4 game cameo for the short-season Jamestown Jammers in the New York-Penn League, and hit .323 AVG/.380 OBP/.380 SLG (760 OPS).

McGuire had nearly as many walks (16) as strikeouts (19), which is very encouraging for any young hitter.  His defensive work received high marks, although the scouting videos I watched pre-draft seemed to me like he is very busy behind the plate and prone to passed balls.

The Pirates have an odd logjam in the lower minors of high-end prospects at catcher.  Wyatt Mathisen had an injury-plagued year at Low A and Jin-de Jhang played primarily at short-season.  In a normal situation, I would say McGuire would be shoe-in for Low A in 2014, but it wouldn’t surprise if they kept him at extended spring training until they see if Mathisen is ready to move up to High A.
PROJECTION -- Primary starter at catcher.  ETA -- Mid 2017

#9 Tony Sanchez, C (26), AAA/MLB --
At the opposite end of the development spectrum is Tony Sanchez.  As the 2009 1st round pick out of college, it still took Sanchez four years to debut.  Part of his path was derailed by injuries, but his bat was also lagging behind.  However, in 2013 the bat caught up to his defensive reputation as Sanchez hit .282 AVG/.358 OBP/.487 SLG (845 OPS).

Sanchez’s affable nature and ability to work hard will make him a natural team leader when called upon.  I still feel that he’ll be a defense-first catcher, but I see many similarities between Sanchez and Russell Martin.  Sanchez is probably a player that will hit either 7th or 8th and get 10-12 HR with batting averages around .250 to .260.
PROJECTION -- Backup in 2014, Starter in 2015.  ETA -- Already here

#8 Luis Heredia, RHP (19), A+ --
2013 was a little bit of a lost year for Heredia (2010 International signee).  Reports were that he came into Spring Training out of shape and as a result did not debut with Low A West Virginia in late April/early May, as expected.

By the time he debuted in late June, he was still held to inning limits and only pitched 65 innings over 13 starts this year.  In those 65 innings, he put up a 3.05 ERA, struck out 55, but walked 37.
He still has the low to mid-90’s fastball, but his changeup and curveball still need refinement.  Hopefully he can come out of the gate strong and get assigned to High A Bradenton for 2014.
PROJECTION -- #3 starter, chance for a #2 if offspeed progresses.  ETA -- Mid 2016

#7 Josh Bell, OF (21), A+ --
Bell’s story is one of constantly trying to live up to hype and expectations.  His parents famously wrote every team in the 2011 Draft and said that Bell was going to college, so don’t bother drafting him.  The Pirates did anyway and convinced him at the last minute to sign for $5M and forgo college.

My personal opinion is that the Pirates viewed Bell as their chance to get a “Giancarlo Stanton” power hitting outfielder and didn’t want to pass it up.  His 2012 season was over almost before it started, as Bell tore his meniscus in May and missed the remainder of the year.  The 2013 season was encouraging to see him come back healthy and productive, but it was not a very loud season (.279 AVG/.353 OBP/.453 SLG, 806 OPS, 13 HR), causing some people to already overlook him.  He’ll move up to High A this year.

Bell is not a 5-tool OF.  He has power and should be a good switch hitter, but he won’t offer much defensively or on the basepaths.  With the glut of dynamic OF’s at the major league level and in the minors, it’s easy for me to project a position switch down the line for Bell.
PROJECTION -- Starting 1B.  ETA -- Late 2015, early 2016

#6 Alen Hanson, SS (21), AA --
Hanson and teammate Gregory Polanco exploded on the prospect scene in 2012, but while Polanco continued his ascent in 2013, Hanson had a little bit more of a muted season.  For the year, split between High A and AA, Hanson hit .274 AVG/.329 OBP/.427 SLG (756 OPS) with 8 HR and 30 SB.

Hanson has never been a particularly efficient base stealer, as he was caught 16 times this year.  The big question with Hanson is whether he has the aptitude to stay at SS, where his offensive potential would be a huge bonus.  I saw him in Altoona and came away feeling he had a good shot to stay at SS, but the jury is still largely out, mostly due to his footwork.

Hanson will return to AA to start the year and may see AAA for a cameo at the end of 2014.

PROJECTION -- Starting SS/Starting 2B.  ETA -- Mid 2015

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