SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Pirates' recent past and present are pretty bright, with consecutive postseason appearances and props for assembling a versatile 2015 crew with a solid core, and the future won't be getting any dimmer according to MLB.com's crystal baseball.
As revealed Friday night on MLB Network, MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects include seven Buccos -- the most among all 30 Major League farm systems.
Pittsburgh's list is topped by No. 12 prospect Tyler Glasnow, chosen the organization's top pitcher for the second straight year. Organizational top player honoree Josh Bell is at No. 34.
Also getting nods are right-hander Jameson Taillon, No. 31 despite an inactive 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery, outfielder Austin Meadows (No. 46) and middle infielder Alen Hanson (No. 92).
Joining those five -- all holdovers from the 2014 Top 100 Prospects -- are newcomers in catcher Reese McGuire (No. 64) and right-hander Nick Kingham (No. 74).
The group is even more impressive when considering two on-the-cusp players not on the list: outfielder Gregory Polanco, the Bucs' highest-ranked prospect at No. 13 a year ago who lost his rookie status with a mid-June callup, and Jung Ho Kang, on whom there is not yet a "book" but who ranked prominently on analysts' lists of the offseason's top free agents.
The annual ranking of baseball's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2015. Team-by-team Top 30 Prospects lists for 2015 will be unveiled in March.
According to the point system applied to prospects (100 for No. 1, 99 for No. 2, etc.) the Pirates overall rank No. 3 with 354 prospect points. With six ranked prospects each, the Twins and the Cubs are 1-2 at 464 and 424 points, respectively. But what makes the Bucs' status so impressive in the big picture is that those two teams are building out of a five-year depression of averaging 97 losses -- while the Pirates are adding onto 182 wins in 2013-14.
The most intriguing rank is that of Bell, who a year ago ranked No. 74 as an outfielder. He picked up a first baseman's mitt in the Arizona Fall League and, despite some evident transitional issues, his present rank makes him tops among first base prospects.
Glasnow's cumulative 2013-14 record of 21-8, with an ERA of 1.96 and 321 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings, vaulted him among the elite pitching prospects.
Hanson dropped considerably from his No. 67 rank a year ago, but with a twist. His rank then was at shortstop, but the 22-year-old Dominican now is the second-highest-rated prospect among potential second basemen, behind Atlanta's Jose Peraza, also listed as a shortstop/second baseman.
The Bucs' first-round tandem in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, Meadows (No. 45 last year) held his ranking position and McGuire broke in after both spent most of the 2014 season with Class A West Virginia, batting .322 and .262, respectively. McGuire caught 49 of 126 runners attempting to steal.
Kingham, a fourth-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, made great strides in his fifth year in the Bucs' system, posting a 3.34 ERA in 26 starts split between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.