2008 Top 5 Prospects: Pittsburgh Pirates

As we lead up to both the start of the 2008 season and our “Diamond Cutter” top 100 prospects list, I will be taking a look at the top five prospects from every single Major League team. Each team will have its top five prospects along with a brief scouting report on each player that I have pulled from my scouting notes. Today we continue on with the NL Central with the Pittsburgh Pirates. As always, let me know how you feel about the rankings in the comments section below or via email.

1.) Andrew McCutchen, OF: Andrew McCutchen is one of the four from the famed crop of high school outfielders in the 2005 draft. He is a smart and exciting player with a stellar glove in center field. Despite his great defensive prowess, his impact bat may be his best skill. McCutchen has quick hands and a compact swing which produces a surprising amount of power for someone of his stature. He is a line drive hitter due to his quick bat speed and is able to hit consistently to all fields. He’s very fast both on the base paths and in the outfield. He’s just about ready to join the Pirates as their everyday center fielder.

2.) Neil Walker, 3B: The much debated move of Neil Walker from catcher to the hot corner appears to have paid off. Of course this isn’t too surprising given Walker’s fantastic athletic ability as well as his soft, quick hands and defensive prowess. The big fear is whether or not his bat would carry over to the hot corner and so far it has. Walker has a strong frame with muscular arms and legs which give him fabulous power potential as line drives jump off his bat. He has excellent physical make-up which is why they decided to take the risk which now that it has paid off, should get him to the pros quickly.

3.) Steve Pearce, 1B/OF: Thus far Steven Pearce has had success at every level in his professional career. Pearce’s greatest asset is his strong offensive abilities. He has the bat to hit for both average and power and has an excellent eye at the plate which will really help with his on base percentage. Defensively he’s nothing to get excited about as once again, he’s in the lineup for his bat, not his glove. He, along with McCutchen and Walker, seem to be the only bright spots in the Pirates thirsty Minor League system.

4.) Daniel Moskos, LHP: This starter turned reliever turned in very strong results since his switch to the bullpen. This should get him to the Majors fairly quickly if he can continue his success. Moskos has a strong fastball in the mid-90’s (up to 96 mph), a plus slider in the mid to upper-80’s and a mediocre change-up. As a reliever he probably won’t need to rely on his change all that much especially considering how strong his slider is. He has an undersized frame which means he is forced to use his entire body to get everything he has into his pitches. With his two primary pitches along with his less than fluid delivery, he is a perfect fit for the Pirates bullpen.

5.) Brad Lincoln, RHP: Brad Lincoln was the Pirates top overall pick in the 2006 draft. He had a good start to his new career until the injuries started mounting up. First he was hit with an oblique injury which was followed up by a Tommy John surgery causing him to miss all of last season. Its not sure how he will bounce back but before going down he had a good moving fastball which sat in the mid-90’s as well as a hard breaking curveball. He had a little trouble with the command of his pitches before the injury so it will definitely be a tough battle for him once he comes back from the surgery. As with all Tommy John surgeries it will take about a year for Lincoln to potentially regain what he once had.

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2 Responses to 2008 Top 5 Prospects: Pittsburgh Pirates

  1. I know that yellow is probably hard to read but I had to stay consistent with using team colors. Sorry everyone!

  2. I used to be a guest in a Pittsburgh Pirates round table discussion and here is something I dragged up from 2/26/07. First the question posed to me and then my response:

    Moving Neil Walker to third base: Good, bad or ugly? Do you like the move?

    If the Pirates intend on sticking with Walker and not trading him, then yes, the best plan would be to probably move him to third base. A move from behind the plate may be good for this kid, who by all accounts is very athletic and is versatile enough to take on another position. This change of positions could be even more of a positive given the fact that the Pirates have virtually no one in their system at third base.

    The 2007 season should be a better gauge at how the Pirates’ management needs to address this question. It will give them a chance to see how much farther along Ronny Paulino has progressed and maybe get a better idea of what kind of hitter he will be at the major league level. While he probably won’t end up hitting .310 again, I do think that a power increase isn’t out of the question. This year will also give them a chance to study Walker a bit more closely. Walker definitely hasn’t impressed anyone after his first 1,000 plate appearances as a professional, posting .286/.324/.428 career numbers. He has also shown no patience at the plate with a 162/52 career strikeout to walk ratio. At this point, Walker needs to work on his plate discipline in order to show that he’s worth his #1 pick status, let alone to get a chance to play at the major-league level.

    This especially rings true considering the fact that mega-prospects Jered Weaver, Billy Butler, Stephen Drew, Josh Fields and Philip Hughes were all drafted after Walker and have all shown great progress through the minors (and some into the majors). This puts added pressure on the club’s 2004 first-round draft choice and is leaning more and more towards it being yet another wasted first-round pick.

    For now I think the Pirates should use the old “wait and see” approach to Walker’s future. It’s too early to determine whether or not he will ever be ready to take the next step. But the way things are going at the moment, if Walker doesn’t develop a little more at the plate, which position he’s going to play won’t be the Pirates’ biggest issue.

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