John Sickels reviews his preseason list of the Pirates' top 20 prospects. It's been a mixed bag for the Pirates' minor-league system. Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon have been fine but not nearly as dominant as you'd hope, while Josh Bell and Kyle McPherson have suffered significant injuries and none of the high school pitchers from the 2009 draft have done a whole lot. But Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco are in the midst of breakout seasons, and Luis Heredia looks like a potential stud.â†µ
The emergence of two 19-year-old prospects at Low-A West Virginia takes the sting out of some of the failures. Shortstop Alen Hanson has blossomed from rookie ball sleeper into one of the best infield prospects in baseball with a .326/.389/.581 line. He's got rough edges, particularly on defense, but his progress has been remarkable. Outfielder Gregory Polanco hasn't received as much attention as Hanson, but he's hitting .318/.378/.510 with 34 steals in full-season ball at age 20. I like the aggression they've shown in Latin America.â†µ
That sounds about right. It hasn't been a great minor-league season, but Hanson's breakout, in particular, is potentially huge.â†µ
For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.