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2016 Pirates’ Trade Value Rankings — #7 to #4

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Continuing with our trade value rankings of the Pirates organization, today we’ll look at #7 to #4.  You can read the primer and #25-21 #20-14 and #13-#8 to catch up.

The rankings continue with a 29 year old, a 21 year old and two 24 year olds.

7.  Gregory Polanco ( 24, MLB)

Two pre-arbitration years and three arbitration years

Trade Value Score – 92.3

What if  Miguel Sano had signed in 2009?   Sano, Polanco, Alen Hanson, Jose Osuna, Joely Rodriguez,  Dovydas Neverauskas (who is invited to ML Spring Training this year) and Clario Perez who is still alive.   The 2009 international class is great without Sano and would have been legendary with him.


Polanco’s swing is welcome on Planet Unicorn

Polanco is a little bit different than Sano, but I’ll claim him as a pretty good asset.   First of all his swing is beautiful.   I can’t find the tweet but a national writer mentioned something about “unicorns making love”  in reference to watching him take batting practice, a comparison that may never be echoed again.

There are very few players of whom you could say that their ceilings are a Hall of Fame player but Polanco is one.  El Coffee has legitimate five tool potential, but he’s so young that he need the time to grow into those tools and that lanky body.  He needs to close some of the holes in his swing and work on fouling off more pitches.  On the mental side Polanco shows his youth too with baserunning mistakes and defensive miscues, but he’s so close to getting it.

My constant comp for Polanco is David Ortiz.   If he would have came up in this age of the pitcher his numbers might have looked similar to Polanco’s.  You can also dream on Polanco gaining the bulk on that lanky frame.   The sky is the limit.

6.  Jung Ho Kang ( 29 in April, MLB)   

Three year contract (3 yr/$8.5M) and one team option in 2019 ($5.5M)    Trade Value Score – 92.3

Back in January newly signed Jung Ho Kang made this statement to a local Korean newspaper: “If I get an opportunity to play consistently, I think I can play better (than Mercer).”  It caused a little bit of a stir back here in the States that someone who was a giant unknown would be that confident before playing a game in the majors.   But… he was right.

Watching Kang become a All-Star caliber shortstop was my favorite part of the 2015 season, watching him roll around the field in pain was my least favorite.   Kang was playing so well in the second half I believe there is a chance the Pirates could have passed the Cards had he not got hurt.   But I digress…

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What makes Kang so valuable is that a) he’s really talented and has 20 homerun power b) he plays a league average shortstop and can play a plus 2B and 3B c) he’s signed to arguably the most team friendly deal in the majors, outside of the Royals’ Sal Perez. The Pirates have all the leverage on a All-Star shortstop, which never happens.

What makes Kang such a good hitter is that he uses the whole field and he has opposite field power.   As he gets used to PNC he should get a good feel for hitting the ball in the front row in right center like Cutch.

I had to knock Kang a little in the rating due to the knee injury but without it he’d be in the top three and would bump out one of tomorrow’s names.

5.  Jameson Taillon (24, AAA/MLB)

6.5 years of control     Trade Value Score – 92.3

The Canadian from Texas by way of Florida is the 5th most valuable Pirate asset.   No doubt you’ll again question the logic, but I state again the premium on 4-5 WAR pitchers and Taillon could be one of them.

Taillon got overshadowed a good bit in the 2010 draft by Jonathan Papelbon’s best friend, Bryce Harper.  Taillon was called the best high school pitcher since Josh Beckett and was also compared to Stephen Strasburg (the stud pitcher of the 2009 draft).

Most Pirates fans know the Taillon story so I won’t belabor that end.   I will tell you that the 2012 season, where he faced his most batters, he had a reverse platoon split with RHH’s OPSing .695 against him while LHH’s only OPSed .594.   This could mean that his changeup is pretty good and may also mean he hasn’t started pitching inside to RHH’s too much, which is one of the main Searage tenets.

You get a healthy Taillon, with Searage coaching him, with Cervelli catching him, with no pitch limitations and his full arsenal you might have a 20 game winner.  He’s that good.

4. Tyler Glasnow (21, AAA/MLB)

6.5 years of control     Trade Value Score – 96.0

Most times when you scout a minor league game it’s not very exciting.   Lots of minor league vets on both teams and maybe one or two legit prospects on the field.

This year while Tyler Glasnow was pitching for the Curve, I tried to attend his starts and those games were a blast.    First the Curve sported a lineup of legit prospects up and down the lineup: Josh, Bell, Willy Garcia, Max Moroff, Keon Broxton, Adam Frazier, Gift Ngeope, etc.  Then instead of watching the bottom half of the inning when some AAA washout pitcher was throwing you got to watch Tyler Glasnow throw gas one pitch and his knee buckling curve the next.  I watched darn near every pitch and lost sight of my kids for most of the game.

Glasnow is so fun to dream on because he’s so good now and is so stinking young.   He might reach the show before his 22nd birthday which for domestic players is really early.

Glasnow is also very tall, growing from 5’8″ to 6’7″ during high school, and his wingspan is huge.    His Arizona Fall League coach mentioned that when he’s pitching to a RH hitter the ball actually leaves Glasnow’s hand to the right of the batters head sometimes, which I’m sure the hitters notice.

Currently Glasnow’s fastball and curve are plus or even plus-plus pitches and he’s working on a changeup (like everyone is).   In reality though he could be an AJ Burnett type and only throw two pitches since they’re both so good.

The Glasnow find gives the Pirates so much flexibility with the rotation going forward and a rotation with Cole, Liriano, Glasnow, Taillon and Kingham in 2017 just sounds delicious.

***Updated Venn Below

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Michael is a Pirates contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Michael is former submarine officer and Naval Academy grad. He now runs a small consulting firm and does veteran related job fairs. He is a SABR member and regularly attends Altoona Curve games to scout the Pirate prospects.