5 Reasons the Pirates Will be a Better Team in 2016: Part 1

DSC_0773By: Matthew Kruth, The Burgh Blog Writer, @theburghblog_mk

The Pittsburgh Pirates finished with 98 wins last season. It’s hard to improve a 98-win team, but here are 5 reasons the 2016 Pirates will be better than last year. Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

1. Top Prospect Arrivals

PITTSBURGH – The Pirates have some very interesting options around the diamond when it comes to in season upgrades, and they’re all waiting for their shot in AAA Indianapolis.

First, take a look at the starting rotation. There are huge questions surrounding the bottom of the rotation. Of course there is optimism in regards to Juan Nicasio’s scorching hot spring, but Jeff Locke and Jon Niese were unimpressive leaving plenty of room for concern. If the bottom three starters struggle, or if there is an injury, the Pirates have 2-5 viable starting pitching prospects that could be ready to make the jump to the majors.

The obvious names here are Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon, and if you don’t know who these guys are, you certainly will when they do get the call to the majors. Both pitchers will be in the Majors by season’s end, and they each project to help the Pirates in a big way during the 2016 season.

Other options include Trever Williams, Steven Brault, and Chad Kuhl. These guys do not project to be ready as quickly and are not as likely to have a major impact on the major league club this season.

In addition to pitching talent, the AAA squad also houses 1B Josh Bell, 2B Alen Hanson, and C Elias Diaz. All three players are in line for promotions to the bigs during this season. Some people may recall Elias Diaz from his time with the club in August of last year.

Bell is the obvious long term option at 1B. He needs to finish getting acclimated to the defensive aspect of the position and find consistency hitting from the right side of the plate. These improvements to his game do not figure to take the entire season. If at any point John Jaso hits the DL, Bell would be the leading candidate to take over as the left side of the first base platoon.

Second base prospect, Alen Hanson is in line for a promotion if there is an injury to Josh Harrison or even potentially and outfield position. Hanson has to work on being more consistent with the bat to stick at the Major League level, but he does project to start in the bigs when a spot on the field becomes available. A short term stay at the beginning of the season to cover an injury isn’t out of the question for Hanson.

Finally, Elias Diaz is the most likely candidate to start at catcher next season. If Francisco Cervelli is injured over the course of the season, look for Diaz to have a major role in Clint hurdle’s starting lineup.

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