1. RHP Gerrit Cole (AA): Cole may not be dominating the minors like some hoped, but he’s been pitching well since joining the Pirates system and his stuff has been as advertised. He still looks like a frontline starter and 200 inning+ workhorse.
2. RHP Jameson Taillon (AA): Taillon joined Cole in AA Altoona last week, and had an impressive debut, pitching five shutout innings while striking out six. Taillon, like Cole has had good but not great minor league numbers. Cole and Taillon are 1a and 1b in the Pirates system.
3. OF Gregory Polanco (A): Polanco separated himself from the pack of projectable young outfielders in the Pirates’ system this year, posting tremendous numbers in low A West Virginia. Polanco’s frame is filling out nicely. He has hit for average, power, stolen 40 bases and boasts a very good outfield arm. He is currently out with an ankle injury, but should be back in the lineup soon. He and Alen Hanson are evidence of the Pirates’ efforts in Latin America really paying dividends.
4. SS Alen Hanson (A): Hanson has responded beautifully to full season ball- an assignment that at the beginning of the year, many believed was an extremely aggressive one. He’s continued to hit well all year, displaying impressive power for his size, good speed and a good infield arm. His fielding hasn’t been great (39 errors on the year) but he’s young and will continue to improve. Obviously Hanson is a more valuable prospect if he stays at short, and it’s looking more and more like he will.
5. RHP Luis Heredia (SS): Heredia just turned 18 a few weeks ago, but he’s been pitching very well in State College against hitters who are mostly 2-3 years older than him. Obviously it’ll be a few years before he’s knocking on the major league door, but he looks like a third potential ace in the system.
6. OF Josh Bell (A) Bell hasn’t played since an April knee injury sidelined him for the season. The lost development time is unfortunate, but his potential is still great and next spring we should see the hitting skills and power that made him one of the 2011 draft’s most prized bats.
7. RHP Clay Holmes (SS): If it weren’t for Hanson and Polanco, Clay Holmes would be the “breakout prospect” this year. He’s been excellent in State College and like Heredia, is young for the league. With his ideal pitcher’s frame and good live stuff, he looks to be a solid #3 or 4 guy in the making, maybe more.
8. LHP Jeff Locke (AAA): Locke has quietly had an impressive year in Indy, and has been outstanding as of late. He looks to have a solid big league future as a back end guy and should give the Pirates a good rotation option for the next few years.
9. LHP Justin Wilson (AAA): Wilson, a hard throwing lefty made his big league debut Monday in San Diego, pitching an inning in relief and using his electric stuff to strike out the side. He’s a popular end of season bullpen addition among fans, but was optioned back down to Indianapolis to make room for Chad Qualls and Dan McCutchen. It’s not entirely clear whether he will be a starter or reliever long term.
10. RHP Kyle McPherson (AAA): McPherson started the season on the DL due to shoulder inflammation, but has pitched well since returning. He made his big league debut in San Diego along with Wilson, and was also optioned back to Indy. He’s been great since his breakout 2010.
11. RHP Nick Kingham (A): Kingham struggled for much of the season in West Virginia, but has really turned it on of late
12. 1B/OF Alex Dickerson (A+) He’s hit pretty well in Bradenton. More power, which may come, would increase his value immensely.
13. OF Barrett Barnes (SS) Barnes, the Pirates’ supplemental first round pick in June, has been out since August 1st with a stress fracture, and figures to miss the remainder of the season. He will be ready to go next year, likely as the starting center fielder in West Virginia. His injury is not thought to be serious.
14. OF Willy Garcia (A): Garcia has plenty of pop in his bat, and could develop into a top prospect sooner than later.
15. RHP Bryan Morris (AAA) Morris has pitched well coming out of the pen for in Indy. Should play a role for the Pirates next season.
16. C Tony Sanchez (AAA) Sanchez had had a frustrating season. But he still has a chance to be a solid big league catcher.
17. C Wyatt Mathisen (R) Mathisen could soon surpass Sanchez as the top catching prospect in the system.
18. 1B Jose Osuna (A) Osuna has hit well in West Virginia this season.
19. OF Mel Rojas (A+) He’s had a good week, but a very mediocre season as a whole. Has all the tools, just needs to put it together at the plate.
20. RHP Victor Black (AA) He’s got great stuff, and has had an impressive season in Altoona.
Honorable Mention: Eric Avila, Matt Curry, Zack Von Rosenberg, Harold Ramirez, Elvis Escobar, Dilson Herrera, Brock Holt, Tyler Glasnow