Continuing with our trade value rankings of the Pirates organization. You can read the primer and #25-21 to catch up. On to the rankings:
20. Francisco Cervelli (29) – C – ML – 2 years of control, 2nd time through arbitration
Cervelli comes to Pittsburgh from the Yankees with a couple obstacles to being a popular player. First, he ?s replacing a catcher in Russell Martin that played the best year at catcher that I ever remember. In a low offensive year, Martin had an OBP over .400 and made defensive plays deemed impossible (note that comment from Tony Sanchez). Also add in that Cervelli was traded for yinzer favorite, Justin Wilson, and you have a recipe for booing. But let ?s talk about what Cervelli brings. Cervelli is defensively talented and is an excellent pitch framer. He ?s not the physical freak that Martin is, nor does he take as many walks, but he does have power. He ?s also in Jose Molina territory for pitch framing. He and Stewart should combine for a solid catching quorum with Tony Sanchez and another prospect to be ranked later (PTBRL).
19. Alen Hanson (22) – 2B/SS – AAA – 6 years of control, pre-arbitration
Alen Hanson is the Anne Hathaway of prospects. Some people love him while others don ?t care for him that much. I ?m in the former category. First, there are things about him that are non-debatable. He is very young for the levels he ?s played at. He was the 9th youngest player in the Eastern League this year. He also will play the middle infield, probably second base. Other teams might still see him as a SS, as not every team uses a glove first SS these days. Hanson also shows 20 SB speed and takes walks. He has doubles power and could hit 10 HR. Finally, he ranked well in the newly created minor league VORP stat. Enough on the good. There is a reason BA left him off the Eastern League Top 20 prospects. Hanson’s 5.9% BB% this year wasn’t good, plus his .321 BABIP inflated the already low .280 BA. Some scouts don’t believe the .162 ISO. Add in the benchings for attitude and there is a lot to worry about. But it isn ?t hard to see a switch-hitting 2B, atop a starting lineup everyday getting 700 ABs, while playing plus defense at 2B.
18. Nick Kingham (23) – SP – AAA – 6 years of control, pre-arbitration
Kingham was drafted in 2010, which is looking like a boom to the Pirates’ arsenal of starting pitching. Fellow 2010’er Jameson Taillon is knocking on the door of the majors, while Brandon Cumpton and Casey Sadler have starts already and should get a few starts between them this year. Nick Kingham has been deemed a safe #3 starter by basically every scout. I watched him pitch in Altoona and think he has great promise. It ?s good seeing these guys pitch in the minors since it becomes obvious that they have agendas with each start. When I saw Kingham, he threw all fastballs the first two innings and then was working on his changeup. He gave up 4 runs to a decent team (Akron), but he showed consistent 94 ?s on the radar with good command. Trading Kingham now would bring a real nice return.
17. Tony Watson (30) – RP – ML – 3 years of control, 1st time through arbitration
Watson has done the prototypical march from failed starter to LOOGY to setup man and to closer-in-waiting. His WHIP averaged over the last 3 years is 1.01. Per Fangraphs, he was worth 1.3 WAR in 2014 for a mere $518k. He ?ll only make $1.75M this year, since arbitration doesn ?t pay guys much that don ?t have many saves. He ?s a guy who could bring a big return at this year ?s trade deadline, if the Pirates happen to be out of it, and really wouldn ?t hurt them too badly long term by his loss.
16. Reese McGuire (20) – C – High A – 6 years of control, pre-arbitration
Rarely do major league front offices talk much about a prospect in A ball. Reese McGuire is that exception and it ?s because of his defense. McGuire is playing at a Chris Stewart-level defensively and he ?s not even 20. It ?s not just his blocking and throwing but his handling of pitchers that gets raves as well. Pirate fans have seen what a Russell Martin would do compared to a Ryan Doumit. If McGuire’s bat gets to even Chris Stewart ?s level that is a great catcher.
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