Once upon a time, the Pittsburgh Pirates were loaded with pitching prospects, but lacked up-and-coming bats. Now, especially with Mitch Keller in Pittsburgh, it's very much the opposite.
Here are the Pittsburgh Pirates top-10 prospects according to Pirate Maven.
1. Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B
Ke'Bryan Hayes was a Pirate first-round pick in 2015 and has steadily worked his way into being the Pirates top prospect. I don't know how much longer he will hold this spot, however, as he could find himself in Pittsburgh early in 2020.
Hayes isn't going to wow anyone with his bat, but he should develop into a solid contact guy capable of hitting 20 home runs. The aspect of his game that has the Pittsburgh excited is his defense. Hayes has the ability of becoming a gold glover on the hot corner.
He isn't particularly blocked right now with Colin Moran currently occupying third base in Pittsburgh. While Moran has been a solid player for the Pirates, Hayes profiles as a better player in almost every aspect.
2019 slash line: .261/10/55
2. Oniel Cruz, SS
Oniel Cruz was one of two players sent over from the Dodgers in the Tony Watson trade. Cruz's 6'6" frame seems like an oxymoron considering he plays short stop, but Cruz is no joke. His lanky frame gives him extra range on defense and a little bit of pop in his bat.
Cruz's arm will give baserunners little chance of beating out even the slowest of grounders hit his way. His bat took a while to catch on, but he's shown some consistency now for the last two years, though his power took a considerable dip this year after his promotion to AA Altoona.
One thing to love about Cruz is that he is well ahead of schedule - playing half a season in AA before turning 21 years old. He should make a move to AAA sometime next season.
2019 slash line: .298/8/34
3. Travis Swaggerty, OF
It's splitting hairs picking Travis Swaggerty over #4 prospect Cal Mitchell. Swaggerty is probably the more complete prospect right now. Travis's speed is his biggest differentiator. He is both a base-stealer and a ground-covering outfielder.
At 22 years old, we should expect him to make a jump to AA next season, and perhaps end the season in AAA.
2019 slash line: .265/9/40
4. Cal Mitchell, OF
Cal Mitchell was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round of the 2017 draft. Mitchell's bat is his strength, and his power has been a bit of a surprise.
Mitchell profiled as a contact-first prospect, but his power has improved with each year in the Pirate organization.
Mitchell has played a full season at a different level of the organization each year and I expect that to continue next year as he should see a promotion to AA.
5. Ji-Hwan Bae, 2B/SS
Ji-Hwan Bae is one of the players that a championship team needs. He's a solid contact hitter with blazing speed - 31 stolen bases in 2019.
Bae has played both second base and short stop, but he looks much more comfortable at second. Second base also provides the path of least resistance to the majors with both Cole Tucker and Oniel Cruz ahead of him at short stop.
6. Quinn Priester, SP
Quinn Priester was the Pirates first-round pick this past draft. Priester's plus fastball/curveball combination could prove to be a problem for batters. His four-seam fastball hits 97 MPH, and his 2-seam gets excellent break while sitting in the low 90s. His curveball, however, may be his his best pitch.
It would be great to see Priester develop another plus pitch, but the three he has can get a guy a long way.
7. Will Craig, 1B
The Pirates surprised some by taking a college first basemen in the first round of the 2016 draft. The Bucs typically prefer drafting from the high school ranks early in drafts, but broke from tradition in favor of Will Craig's bat.
That bat took a while to progress, but over the past two seasons, Craig has shown that home run power that got him drafted. There's speculation in Pittsburgh regarding what the plan is for Craig considering he doesn't seem to be a fit at any other position rather than first base. With Josh Bell currently occupying that spot in Pittsburgh, it's unclear what the next step for Craig will be.
8. Cody Bolton, SP
Cody Bolton has been slowed somewhat because of injuries. So, I was interested in seeing what a full season from him would like. It was mostly fantastic. In 12 starts in A+ Bradenton, Bolton was dominant - posting a 1.61 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 69 Ks in 61 2/3 innings.
Since moving to AA Altoona, he's struggled, but that's okay. He's a 21-year old pitcher in AA who hasn't gotten a whole lot of time in the system. So, the fact that he's still on schedule despite his injuries is a plus.
None of his pitches are all that eye-popping, but he can throw them all for strikes and can still add on some velocity to his mid-90s fastball.
9. Braxton Ashcraft, SP
Braxton Ashcraft is mostly about projection at this point. He's only 19 years old, but he has all the tools of a big-league starter. Don't trust the 5.77 ERA he posted in West Virginia this year. At 19 years old, they are still working on things with him - adding pitches, refining the ones he has.
I imagine, once he adds strength, his fastball will hit the high 90s. He also has a slider that could turn into something special.
10. Sammy Siani, OF
Sammy Siani is another member of the most recent draft class. He was taken 37th with the Pirate's CBA pick.
Siani has great contact and wheels. He projects to be a guy who gets on base and is a threat to steal once he is. His above-average speed will also help make the gaps in the outfield a little smaller.
However, his small frame leaves very little power to be had. He might be higher on this list if it weren't for prospects with more pop in their bats positioned ahead of him. He will need to get on base with regularity in order to move up this list.
That's our list of top-10 Pittsburgh Pirate prospects. This list will be updated as players move up, down and out.