- In prospect news, Baseball America released its mid-season top 50 list, which included three Pirates’ farmhands.
- Jameson Taillon is BA‘s 11th-ranked prospect at the half-way point, up eight spots from No. 19 at the start of the season. Of course, guys like Jurickson Profar, Wil Myers, Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller and Gerrit Cole have exhausted their eligibility on prospect lists (or are near such limits), and no 2013 draftees or international free agents are included, so Taillon was inevitably going to be bumped up a bit. And that’s great because it means so far he’s held his own as a 21-year-old in Double-A.
In 17 starts for Altoona (technically 16 starts, since he took over in a suspended game that was two outs deep) spanning 95 innings, Taillon sports a 2.94 ERA and 3.44 FIP. His strikeout rate (8.6 K/9) is an improvement over last year (7.4 K/9) but the walks haven’t alarmingly risen. Sure, there’s a slight increase (2.4 BB/9 in 2012; 3.1 BB/9 in 2013) but Taillon’s encountering more patient hitters at a higher level, ones who also force pitchers to rely more on their ancillary offerings. The one bugaboo for Taillon has been surrendering hits. He’s allowing almost one more hit-per-nine than he did last year, but it’s still not reason to panic. The former second-overall pick is handling himself quite well at an advanced level for his age, and there’s no reason to suspect he won’t join Cole in Pittsburgh by next summer.
- Gregory Polanco is the next Pirate prospect to appear on the list, as he’s ranked 13th. This is a huge jump for the 21-year-old outfielder. After starting the year ranked 51st by BA, Polanco raked at High-A Bradenton, slashing .312/.364/.472 in 57 games and 241 plate appearances.
The Pirates’ player development decided the Dominican-born outfielder deserved a promotion to Double-A — and he has yet to make that move seem rushed. Albeit in a small sample, the power has dipped the tiniest bit. But Polanco has managed to strengthen his approach; he’s cut down his strikeout rate to below 15 percent and boosted his walk rate to above 10 percent, all the while posting a .301/.386/.438 line.
- Alen Hanson, like Polanco, has made a pretty rapid rise up the ranks, moving from No. 61 in the pre-season to a mid-season No. 39 billing. Hanson is nearly 13 months younger than his Dominican-counterpart Polanco, and has remained in Bradenton all year. Keep in mind that Hanson has played shortstop all season and that he’s just 20-years-old and his .291/.347/.449 line seems much stronger — not that a .797 OPS isn’t impressive in the first place. He is walking less and showing less power, and it looks as though he’s having series trouble as a righty facing lefties. A switch hitter, Hanson has a .952 OPS against righties and a .552 OPS against southpaws. There hasn’t been as glaring of splits in his past, so perhaps this is something that will work itself out in more than the 73 games he’s played in 2013.
- This one’s for subscribers only, but BA also has Pirates’ minor-league pitcher Tyler Glasnow as a breakthrough prospect so far. Glasnow, who was drafted in the fifth-round in 2011, is just 19 yet stands at 6’7″, 195 lbs. His fastball has been clocked in the mid-90s, which is the likely reason for his 103 strikeouts in just 70 1/3 innings pitched at Low-A West Virginia. The sizable righty has a tendency to issue walks (5.4 BB/9), but essentially all other numbers Glasnow’s posted have been ridiculous, especially his 4.7 H/9.
- With Taillon, Polanco, Hanson, and presumably Glasnow already a lock to fit into to BA‘s top-100 prospect list — and 2013 first-rounders Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire sure to appear — it’s a great time to be a Pirates fan. Pittsburgh is one of BA‘s “five organizations on a roll,” a title that comes after the above-mentioned prospects — plus a few more! — and incredible first-half success in the major leagues. The article is subscriber-only.
- The Pirates have signed their seventh-round pick from the 2013 draft, Buddy Borden, for $180,400 according to Jim Callis. Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects has the info on Borden and all of the other draft picks. The Bucs have now signed all of their first 19 picks, and 23 of their first 25.
- The Oakland Athletics have promoted Grant Green from Triple-A Sacramento, where he was hitting .318/.374/.500 and playing at second base. Green, 25, was selected 13th overall by the A’s in 2009, the same year the Pirates took Tony Sanchez third overall. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if both players compiled similar WAR numbers when all’s said and done.
- Remember Anna and Kris Benson? This is just a weird, sad story.
- In terrible-players-stuck-in-terrible-contracts news, Ryan Howard is out 6-8 weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee. Howard, 33, is making $20 million this year and was completely justifying it with his 0.5 WAR. Ugh.
- Scott Hairston is now a National after a series against the Pirates in which he batted five times and homered twice.
1. Coco Crisp, CF
2. Jed Lowrie, SS
3. Josh Donaldson, 3B
4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
5. Nate Freiman, 1B
6. Chris Young, RF
7. Derek Norris, C
8. Grant Green, SS
9. Bartolo Colon, P
1. Starling Marte, LF
2. Jose Tabata, RF
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
5. Russell Martin, C
6. Garrett Jones, 1B
7. Brandon Inge, 2B
8. Clint Barmes, SS
9. Jeff Locke, P