2019 Pirates have potential with talent on board and on the way


Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license.

The Bucs’ minor leagues are not as deep with prospects as in years past, but the system is top heavy.

Austin Bechtold, Staff Writer

The Pirates finished the 2018 season 82-79, only playing 161 games due to a mid-September rainout with Miami. They were 12.5 games out of the division lead and 8.5 games out of the wildcard race.

Ever since the trade deadline, when the Pirates made the biggest deadline deal in recent memory, the wheels fell off.

Chris Archer’s first start for the Bucs felt like a playoff game at PNC Park and the atmosphere was arguably the best the park has seen since the 2015 Wild Card game. The remainder of the season, though, was full of ups and downs.

Gregory Polanco got hurt and Corey Dickerson was nowhere to be found offensively for most of the second half.

Even though the season did not turn out as many hoped after the 11-game winning streak and deadline deals in July, the Pirates exceeded expectations after most fans considered the season lost due to the Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen trades in the offseason.

No one after the January trades expected the Pirates to win 82 games. Many fans predicted the team would lose 100 games and go back to being a dumpster fire. The talent the team put on the field, however, mostly lived up to expectations.

The talent coming up to the big leagues for the Bucs is also very promising and could fill the few holes on the team.

Fans have already seen the Seinfeld infield of Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer show glimpses of promise but both struggled to get anything consistently going.

Super utility Pablo Reyes, on the other hand, may have played his way into a bench role for the 2019 Bucs. No one knew much about Reyes when he was first called up and many thought of him as a prospect with no potential who was being given one chance to play before potentially moving on from the organization.

Reyes took advantage of his opportunity in a big way, making multiple five-star catches in left and right field while swinging a hot bat and finding some power not seen from him in the past. He even scored the game-winning run in Game 161 on a wild pitch due to his hustle to get to third base on an earlier error by the Reds.

If fans are happy with what they see from these three young players, they will be thrilled to see three others make a major contribution on next year’s team.

No. 1 prospect and MLB.com’s 16th best prospect Mitch Keller should make his highly anticipated debut around halfway through the season to push the starting rotation to the top with yet another top-of-the-rotation arm.

Also, the Pirates’ No. 2 prospect and MLB.com’s 48th overall prospect, third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, could arrive around the same time. He already plays a Gold Glove-type third base and continues to develop some power at the plate.

Shortstop Cole Tucker, who usually leads off and has Starling Marte type speed, is an under-the-radar player who also should develop more power as he fills out is 6 foot, 3 inch frame.

The Bucs’ minor leagues are not as deep with prospects as in years past, but the system is top heavy.

With talent under contract at the major league level and reinforcements on the way, the Pirates are in good shape going forward in 2019.

The season that was for the Pirates was more encouraging and exciting than anyone could have thought, and the 2019 baseball season could continue this trend and take the Pirates back to the playoffs and back to the promised land for the first time in a long time.