2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Ranking the Fantasy assets for the Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates' last rebuild took 20 years, and after five years of quasi-success, highlighted by three early playoff exits, they're back at it, shipping off Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole -- their most notable hitter and pitcher, respectively -- in separate trades.

And what's crazy is they didn't even get top-flight prospects in return, instead settling for some of the Astros' overgrowth and ... whatever the Giants were willing to give them, it seems.

There may be a method to the madness. The Pirates still have a workable nucleus in place after graduating Josh Bell last year, so if Colin Moran and Joe Musgrove, two borderline top-100 prospects not long ago, can seize the opportunity they didn't get in Houston and if Gregory Polanco, Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow, themselves once elite prospects, finally capitalize on their ability, the Pirates could find themselves in the hunt again. While the McCutchen and Cole trades look bad on paper, part of the reason the Pirates got so little for them is because, frankly, they weren't so good the last two years, making them easier to replace than you'd think.

But that's a lot of ifs. For now, the Pirates have only one player in my top 100 -- and only in Rotisserie leagues.

Pirates in Scott's top 300
PlayerRoto RankH2H RankRoto Pos RankH2H Pos Rank
#65 #113 #19 #25
#104 #122 #7 #7
#159 #160 #21 #20
#206 #223 #51 #49
#225 #184 #61 #63
#250 #266 #26 (at 2B) #28 (at 2B)
NR #206 #89 #74
NR #270 #82 #86

Players in Scott's Top 100 Prospects

Pirates prospects
26 Mitch Keller
Durability has been an issue for Keller, who missed time last year with back and shin injuries, but he's as projectable a pitching prospect as you'll find, throwing in the mid-to-high 90s with a plus curve, developing changeup and terrific control. You could call him boring, but it's in the most wonderful way.
Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful
43 Austin Meadows
Meadows, a former first-rounder, has gotten a pass from talent evaluators more than once, but his 2017, after showing some progress the year before, was a real gut punch. Hamstring and oblique injuries may have been partially to blame, though, and with Andrew McCutchen out the door, you'll want to see this investment through in dynasty leagues.
Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful
87 Colin Moran
Thought to be a plus hitter who may or may not develop power when the Marlins selected him sixth overall in 2013, Moran seemed to find his power stroke, even if in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, last year. And thanks to the Gerrit Cole trade, he's now in an organization where he isn't blocked three times over.
Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring (at 3B)
97 Jordan Luplow
Perhaps because he's limited defensively, Luplow hasn't gotten much attention in prospect circles, but he put himself on the map with last year's performance, even starting some for the big club down the stretch. That said, finding at-bats for him doesn't seem to be a priority, and he may never have that chance with Austin Meadows knocking on the door.
Scott's 2018 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring

Things to Know

  • With Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole already gone, Josh Harrison is the Pirate whose name comes up most often in trade rumors, and his departure might actually be a net positive for Fantasy owners if it gets Adam Frazier's bat in the lineup on a regular basis. Frazier isn't a great power or speed source, but his exceptional contact skills put him on base at a high rate, giving him the upside of a Cesar Hernandez or maybe even a DJ LeMahieu.
  • Frazier could still factor in left field, where McCutchen's departure leaves the Pirates with an obvious hole. They've given on-base specialist Daniel Nava a minor-league contract, apparently with the hope he can form a platoon with Jordan Luplow, but I'd prefer they let Luplow fly solo. He didn't show much in a major-league stint but hit .302 with 23 homers and a .907 OPS between two minor-league stops last year, with a strikeout rate that wouldn't preclude him from continuing those numbers.
  • Of course, whoever claims the left field job -- unless Luplow really takes to it -- is probably just keeping the seat warm for long-awaited prospect Austin Meadows, whose capricious minor-league production hasn't cost him too many spots in the minor-league rankings. He's another reason the Pirates may not lose as much ground as people think.
  • Tyler Glasnow, who was among the most hyped pitching prospects in baseball leading up to his promotion, was a disaster in the majors last year even after a return trip to the minors in which he seemingly overcame his control issues in his final seven starts. He compiled a 2.45 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 13.7 strikeouts per nine innings. But even though it didn't manifest in three September starts thereafter, I still feel like progress was made, and for all his upside, Glasnow is a forgotten man in Fantasy Baseball circles.
  • The assumption is Colin Moran will form the better half of a platoon at third base with David Freese, but the two will technically be battling for the job this spring. 

Lineup & Rotation

Batting order    
                
1 Josh Harrison 2B
2 Daniel Nava LF
3 Starling Marte CF
4 Josh Bell 1B
5 Gregory Polanco RF
6 Francisco Cervelli C
7 Colin Moran 3B
8 Jordy Mercer SS
Pitchers                             
SP Jameson Taillon
SP Ivan Nova
SP Chad Kuhl
SP Joe Musgrove
SP Trevor Williams
CL Felipe Rivero
RP Daniel Hudson
RP George Kontos
Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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