Andrew McCutchen leads the way for a Pirates’ system in search of some much-needed depth. The likes of Neil Walker and Steve Pearce had seasons to draw positive conclusions about, but the resounding overall questions down on the Pittsburgh farm leaves one waiting once again for a new crop of talent, this time courtesy of the 2008 draft.
|Our Top 5 Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects at the end of the 2007 Season|
|1||Andrew McCutchen||CF||Athletic, toolsey OF who will continue to make speed a key part of his game||20||AAA|
|2||Neil Walker||3B||Similar bat to Daric Barton but has less descipline, power, and experience||22||AAA|
|3||Stephen Pearce||1B||Mashed so much from A+ to MLB last season that it's hard not to like him||24||MLB|
|4||Jamie Romak||LF||Slow outfielder with enough pop that we like his odds of reaching the bigs||22||A+|
|5||Daniel Moskos||LHP||Made 07's 4th overall pick; hard-thrower who could easily wind up as a RP||21||SS|
|* Ages are as of 10/21/07|
|** Level is the highest level the player has reached|
|*** Our rankings combine a player's ceiling with the odds that he'll reach it and favor recent production|
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1. Andrew McCutchen, CF (10/10/86)
Although he has already advanced his way to Triple-A, Andrew McCutchen has been one of the biggest outfield disappointments the 2005 first round had to offer. That said, those Justin Upton, Cameron Maybin, Jay Bruce, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Colby Rasmus guys are developing well. After going .294/.359/.450 across two levels a season ago, McCutchen fell off to a .265/.329/.388 clip riding the Double-A and Triple-A shuttle in 2007. Before you go selling the farm on the 5-foot-11, 170-pound speedster (84% SB rate), note that McCutchen is barely 21 years old and still boasts one of the higher ceilings in all of minor league baseball.
2. Neil Walker, 3B (9/10/85)
After composing a less than inspiring .271/.329/.403 vital line in 2006, Neil Walker caught onto a song of a different tune this campaign. Ditching his catcher’s gear for the greener pastures of the hot corner, Walker came into his own in Double-A this season (.288/.362/.462). A brief .203/.261/.250 stint (64 at-bats) in Triple-A suggests that the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder still has some developing to do – both with the bat and at his new position. And having improved his BB/K rate from 0.44 to 0.64 – 0.73 in Double-A – in just one calendar year, Neil Walker carries the potential to be a quick study in all respects next season.
3. Steve Pearce, 1B (4/13/83)
hard to argue against a combined .333/.394/.622 vital across three
levels. Here goes nothing. A product of the University of South
Carolina, Steve Pearce quickly showed that he was too powerful to be
contained in High-A ball, unleashing a .867 SLG courtesy of 11 HR in
just 75 at-bats. From that point on through Triple-A, Pearce landed a
far more human 20 HR in 412 chances. Pearce, who stands just 5-foot-11
and weighs 198 pounds, is already well past his 24th birthday, and will
need to party like he’s Joey Votto with the big club in 2008 to attain any shot at top-prospect status.
4. Jamie Romak, LF (9/30/85)
Before he landed the No. 70 slot on the Project Prospect Top 75 Rankings (Aug. 8), you probably had no idea who Jamie Romak was. And now – more than three months after the fact and in late October – you still likely haven’t the slightest clue who Jamie Romak is. A 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, Romak is the best .256 hitter you’ve never seen, tabbing a .383 OBP and .496 SLG through High-A. While being 22 years of age in the Carolina League is nothing to write home about just yet, the unknown Jamie Romak and his .127 IsoD could be worth more than a meager postcard next season.
5. Daniel Moskos, LHP (4/28/86)
Don’t vote Daniel Moskos off the island simply based upon what was out of his control. While the Pirates’ selection of him was viewed as an overdraft at No. 4 overall, Moskos was still touted as a top-10 talent in the eyes of many. Standing 6-foot-1 and weighing in at 210 pounds, the Clemson product struggled in his pro debut, allowing 29 runners to reach the base paths in just 15.2 frames of work (1.91 WHIP) across two levels. While his brief MiLB stint and draft status were less than encouraging, it’s far too early to write off a talent that was viewed as one of the top lefthanded pitchers that the 2007 class had to offer.
Adam Loberstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.