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Pittsburgh Pirates

Burkhart: Pittsburgh Pirates Top 15 Prospects in 2017

The embroidered logo of the Pittsburg Pirates looks on during the MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies played at the Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA Photographer: Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire
(Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire)

After compiling the second-best record in the majors in 2015, the Pittsburgh Pirates finished five games below .500 for third place in the NL Central as they snapped a streak of three straight playoff appearances. But turning things around should require more of a retooling rather than a rebuild, with a handful of 25-and-younger players who are making significant big-league contributions or project to in short order.

Outfielder Gregory Polanco found his power stroke in his third major-league season, hitting 22 home runs on his way to a 108 wRC+ despite a balky shoulder and knee that negatively impacted his performance after the All-Star break. On the other side of the ball, right-hander Jameson Taillon was a notable bright spot last season after Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the prior two years, making his major-league debut in June and pitching well across 18 starts.

The Pirates used their first-round pick this year on Will Craig, a first baseman out of Wake Forest who received a $2.25 million bonus and could move quickly on account of his advanced sense for the strike zone. The club selected California prep lefty Nick Lodolo with its supplemental first-round pick, but couldn’t come to terms with the TCU commit and will receive the No. 42 overall pick in this year’s draft as a result. The second- and third-largest bonuses in the Pirates’ draft class went to second-rounder Travis MacGregor and fourth-rounder Braeden Ogle, two high school pitchers with starter traits.

Here’s a brief intro to the series that explains how these lists are made and includes some thoughts about my personal approach to ranking prospects.

Top 15 lists have been published for the Cubs, Reds and Brewers so far. The St. Louis Cardinals are on deck.

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