The Pirates return their top five prospects from last year, three of whom really boosted their stock and the likelihood of reaching their ceilings, and they added another premium guy to the mix with the emergence of 2014 draft pick Mitch Keller, an Iowa high school product who improved in every possible way in 2016.
Cole Tucker, their first pick from 2014, had a mostly positive return from shoulder surgery and returns to their top 10. Nick Kingham, who was a top 100 prospect before 2015, returned from Tommy John surgery and could see the big-league rotation this year. They also have stocked their upper levels with relief prospects who should help them avoid having to pay anyone to handle the seventh through ninth innings for them.
If there’s a weakness here, it’s that they’re not as deep as the three teams ahead of them, in part because they traded two second-tier prospects to Toronto to lose Francisco Liriano’s salary. I was not as big a fan of their 2016 draft class as I was of their drafts the last few years before that.
But the Pirates should be in good shape to remain contenders for the next few years by turning over the big-league roster to the likes of Austin Meadows, Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow, freeing up the cash to spend on pieces they can’t supply internally.
Along the way, Elijah became adept at manipulating his parents. “He’d come into my office, which is right across from his room, crawl up into the fetal position and say, ‘Mom, I did it again,'” Brenda recalls. “That triggered a pity reaction. But then, if I didn’t immediately give him my credit card or bail him out, he’d get filled with so much anger that I worried he was going to break something.”
This torrent of arms has entered the organization from two avenues. General manager John Coppolella has been trading for young pitching at every opportunity, and scouting director Brian Bridges has crushed pitching in his two drafts at the helm.