Keith Law: Pittsburgh Pirates

videoThursday is Opening Day for the minor leagues, and final rosters have been appearing online over the last 24 hours. Christopher Crawford has compiled lists showing where the top 10 prospects in each organization have been assigned, and here I'll highlight six rosters in particular that are loaded with top prospects or other guys I'd gladly travel to go watch.

Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City Royals, high Class A)

Top 100 prospects: SS Raul Mondesi Jr., RHP Miguel Almonte
Former top 100 guys: OF Bubba Starling
First-round picks: IF Hunter Dozier (2013), LHP Sean Manaea (2013), Starling (2011)
Other prospects of note: RHP Aroni Nina, C Zane Evans, C Cam Gallagher, RHP Christian Binford

I may be biased, but the team in my own backyard might just be the most loaded roster in all of minor league baseball.

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With the help of Christopher Crawford of MLB Draft Insider, we have compiled the minor league assignments for all prospects in Keith Law's organizational top 10 rankings.

Due to injuries and late assignments, some minor league rosters are not yet official. In those instances, we took our best guess as to where those prospects will be assigned to begin the year.

Note: Players with an asterisk have been traded since the top-10 lists came out, and they are listed with their assignment for their new club.


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Yu DarvishAP Photo/Darron CummingsThe AL leader in strikeout rate last year, Yu Darvish is an AL Cy Young frontrunner.
Keith Law offers up his win-loss predictions for all 30 teams and winners for the six major postseason awards. Furthermore, explanations for each team are included, along with notes on key players or possible impact call-ups. Award predictions follow the division picks.

AL East

It's hard to pick against a Boston Red Sox team that returns so many of the players who helped them win the World Series last year, losing Stephen Drew but replacing him with one of the majors' best rookies in Xander Bogaerts.

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 Rick PorcelloAP Photo/Gene J. PuskarRick Porcello is ready to thrive with a better infield defense behind him.

LAKELAND, Fla. -- I've started a brief run through some Florida spring training games, tied to seeing a couple of potential first-round picks from the high school ranks, before heading to Arizona next week for a longer scouting run. Here are my notes from Tuesday's game in Lakeland between the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates:

Rick Porcello's superficial numbers the past two years have given a lot of people the impression -- based on my Twitter replies Tuesday, at least -- that he's a disappointment, nothing more than a fifth starter. That's unfair to Porcello, a ground-ball pitcher who played in front of a pretty bad infield defense in 2012 and for most of 2013, at least until Jose Iglesias arrived to shore things up a little bit. He'll benefit even more this year from having Miguel Cabrera, who looked fully healthy again, at first rather than at third, plus a full year of Iglesias' wizardry behind him.

On Tuesday, Porcello's pure stuff was good -- a sinker at 89-93 mph, an average to slightly above-average curveball at 74-78 with tight rotation and an inconsistent changeup at 83-86 that ranged from below-average to pushing plus.

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A.J. BurnettJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesA.J. Burnett's transformation into a ground ball pitcher won't be as useful given the defense in Philly.
Without context, the signing of A.J. Burnett looks like a coup for the Phillies. They signed one of the top dozen starters in the National League from 2013 to a one-year deal that, at $16 million, doesn't overpay based on his recent standard of production. Burnett is 37 years old and has had injury problems earlier in his career as well as a reputation for an unwillingness to play through pain or discomfort that he has disproved in the past few seasons. He was worth 4 Wins Above Replacement in 2013 (using Fangraphs' version, which normalizes BABIP), 3 the year before, and even at that level would represent good value at $16 million.

Context is everything, of course, and the Phillies aren't the right team to hand a 37-year-old pitcher a one-year deal unless it is with the idea of flipping him for long-term assets at some point during the season.

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Now that the 2014 preseason top prospect package is complete, here are links to all of the rankings, videos, podcasts and chat wraps.

Top 100 prospects Insider
Index | Prospects No. 1-50 | Prospects 51-00
10 who just missed
Top 20 impact prospects for 2014

Top 10 prospects by team Insider
AL East | AL Central | AL West
NL East | NL Central | NL West
Astros No. 1 in farm system rankings

Videos Video
Why Buxton is the No. 1 prospect
AL breakout prospects | NL breakout prospects
Twins, Pirates just behind Astros in farm rankings

Podcast Listen
Discussing the top 100 rankings
Xander Bogaerts and Mets GM Sandy Alderson

Chat wraps
Keith Law
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow
Byron Buxton
Addison Russell

Quick thoughts on two Pittsburgh moves 

December, 13, 2013
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The Pittsburgh Pirates made a pair of smaller moves on Wednesday, one great, one ... a little less so.

Signing Charlie Morton to a three-year, $21 million extension that buys out two of his free agent years at a small discount to market makes a ton of sense for a team that ordinarily can't play in the deep end of the free agent pitching pool.

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Analyzing the Navarro and Stewart deals 

December, 2, 2013
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I liked Dioner Navarro as a potential value signing in free agency this winter, looking at the catcher for one year and about $2 million (which could easily stretch to $2.5 million to $3 million, with continued acceleration in free-agent salaries this winter) to see if his offensive spike in 2013 had any legs to it.

He does a few things well enough to merit giving him a major league deal and a starting job, including solid walk rates, average pop and above-average throwing, but just hadn't performed anything like this in five years, and the breakout came back in the National League.

The Toronto Blue Jays seem a lot more optimistic about Navarro than I was, giving him two years and $8 million guaranteed, which isn't every-day player money, but is more than just a backup's cost.

Toronto received nothing but grief from the catcher's spot in 2013, where J.P. Arencibia posted a .227 OBP in nearly 500 plate appearances -- the only player with at least 400 PAs to post an OBP under .240 in 2013.

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My MVP and Cy Young picks 

November, 14, 2013
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Mike TroutAP Photo/Jae C. HongYes, folks, Mike Trout should be on the verge of his second straight MVP.
On Monday, I revealed my rookie of the year ballots (I voted in the National League). Today I wanted to reveal what my ballots would look like for the other major player awards. Again, I only voted for NL ROY, so this is for the purpose of discussion.

National League Cy Young

1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Adam Wainwright
3. Cliff Lee
4. Matt Harvey
5. Jose Fernandez

This one was a rout, and the first-place vote that Wainwright received is quite a bit surprising. Wainwright was a pretty clear No. 2 for me, with Lee third as he was below Wainwright in WAR (per FanGraphs) and pitched in 19 fewer innings.

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Royals punished by CBA; LDS picks 

October, 3, 2013
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RoyalsOtto Geule Jr/Getty ImagesThe Royals get punished by the new CBA for being good but not making the playoffs.

By the standards of their own recent history, the Royals had a very successful season. The team won 86 games, their best record since 1989, and they outscored their opponents on a season for the first time since 1991. Their two biggest offseason acquisitions, Ervin Santana (in a dump trade with the Angels) and James Shields (in the Wil Myers trade with Tampa Bay), both pitched very well for the big club, helping the Royals allow the fewest runs of any team in the American League, 23 fewer than the division-winning Tigers. Some young players took strides: Eric Hosmer hit .317/.365/.492 after the team fired hitting coach Jack Maloof; catcher Salvador Perez had his first full, healthy season in the majors and performed well.

There were plenty of positives for the Royals, but because the season went well, some of the structural reasons that helped the team get to this point will now work against the team.

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Analyzing the Marlon Byrd trade 

August, 27, 2013
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In sending prospect Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later to the Mets for Marlon Byrd and John Buck, the Pirates made a truly all-in move, acquiring a rental player to fill their right-field hole while giving up a true prospect, for the first time in probably two decades. Meanwhile, the Mets shed some parts they didn't need for one prospect we know and another player who I'm told will be a decent prospect.

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Top MLB teams at each position 

August, 20, 2013
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Cardinals StartersLeon Halip/Getty ImagesFor starting pitching depth throughout an organization, it's tough to top St. Louis.
For this post I was asked to take a look at every position and pick which team has the most overall talent if you look at the organization as a whole. So if a team has a strong shortstop at the major league level but no depth within the organization, it could come in behind a team with a decent shortstop but a couple of really good prospects at the position. So think of this as the sum of current MLB talent plus what's in the pipeline.

It's worth a reminder that strong depth at one position is a good way to fill holes via trades. Anybody saying too much talent at one position doesn't matter because you can't play three shortstops is clueless from a business and personnel standpoint. As a note: outfield and pitching have been consolidated because of how we calculate value at those positions.

Catcher

The Yankees have more prospect depth at the catcher position than any other team, with Gary Sanchez a potential star if he can improve his receiving enough to remain at the position, while J.R. Murphy is emerging as at least a strong backup. Austin Romine should be getting regular playing time in the majors down the stretch, at least once the Yankees decide their playoff odds are too low to ... well, playing Chris Stewart isn't exactly pushing them toward the playoffs anyway, so why not just play Romine and see what you've got?

That said, the Pirates probably have more present value than the Yankees because of Russell Martin, with Tony Sanchez probably a solid major league backup and 18-year-old Reese McGuire among the game's top dozen or so catching prospects. There is so little catching in full-season minor leagues right now that you would be hard-pressed to identify 10 clear everyday starters without reaching down to short-season leagues.

First base

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TBDHoward Smith/US PresswirePhillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. decided not to make any deals at the trade deadline.
I hope everyone has recovered from the excitement of this year's trade deadline, which included all of three sellers -- Houston and the two Chicago teams. Here's a look at teams that didn't do anything but should have, or could have if the market had cooperated.

Sellers who didn't sell

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies couldn't even execute the biggest no-brainer trade of all -- dealing Michael Young, age 36 and an impending free agent, so they could play prospect Cody Asche every day at third and Darin Ruf at first for the rest of the year. Young could still move in August if, say, the Yankees claim him on waivers, but the Phillies also lost opportunities to deal other free agents-to-be, including Carlos Ruiz (age 34) and Chase Utley (34).

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More Futures Game notes 

July, 16, 2013
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Taijuan WalkerMark J. Rebilas/US PresswireTaijuan Walker has added a cutter to his arsenal, though his curveball remains fringy.
As promised, here are a few more notes and observations from Sunday's 15th annual MLB Futures Game. If you missed my first batch, here they are.

• I mentioned that Baltimore's Henry Urrutia took a very good BP on Sunday, so here's some more detail. His approach overall is very quiet, with great balance throughout and more strength in his wrists and forearms than you'd guess based on his lean frame. He rotates his hips well for more power and gets very good extension through the zone. His at-bats in the game weren't great -- small sample, of course -- and he's not a good athlete. But as a second-half DH option for the Orioles, who have received a repulsive .197/.261/.382 line from their designated hitters and have taken to using the likes of Nolan Reimold in that spot -- this year, he could easily provide an upgrade.

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Picking the 'real' All-Star teams 

June, 27, 2013
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If we are supposed to believe that the All-Star Game counts for something other than TV ratings and MLB revenues, why don't we see rosters built to win the game? It's part popularity contest, part reward for having a good two months to start the season, but very little about how the rosters are selected makes it look as though the teams are there to win.

Lineups built to win the game would look like All-Star lineups but would move some players around to different positions to try to build the strongest team possible, while also avoiding those hot-start players who aren't the best choices at their respective positions.

Here are the lineups, including one starter and one reliever per team, that I'd set up to give each league the best chance to win one game.

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