Top 3B prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes, former 1st-rounder Will Craig invited to Pirates spring training
The organization’s top hitting prospect and a former first-round pick are among those that the Pittsburgh Pirates announced Saturday will be invited to spring training.
Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes is rated as the Pirates’ No. 2 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, and first baseman Will Craig was the No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 draft. They join outfielder Bryan Reynolds – who was part of the return in the trade of Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco a year ago – as the biggest names among prospects within the organization that are not on the 40-man roster whom the Pirates are inviting to spring training.
Hayes is rated the No. 48 prospect in baseball; in the Pirates’ system, Reynolds is No. 8 and Craig No. 16. Saturday’s announcement means that seven of the Pirates’ top eight prospects, per MLB Pipeline, will be at their major-league spring training in Bradenton beginning in mid February. The lone missing top-8 prospect will be their most recent first-round pick, 21-year-old Travis Swaggerty (No. 3).
As members of the 40-man roster, No. 1 prospect Mitch Keller, No. 5 Cole Tucker, and Nos. 6-7 Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer (each of whom made his MLB debut last season) were already slated to take part in major-league spring training.
The son of longtime former MLB third baseman (and short-time Pirate) Charlie Hayes, Hayes is the organization’s reigning minor league player of the year. The No. 32 overall draft pick in 2015 was the lone repeat minor-league Gold Glove winner in 2018.
Hayes, Craig and Reynolds spent 2018 at Double-A Altoona. Craig led the Eastern League in RBIs (102), Reynolds finished fifth in the batting race (.302) and Hayes led all minor-league third basemen in fielding percentage (.978).
Also announced as Pirates non-roster invitees Saturday were righthanders Tyler Eppler, Alex McRae, Geoff Hartlieb and Eduardo Vera; lefties Elvis Escobar, Brandon Waddell and Blake Weiman; and catchers Jason Delay, Christian Kelley and Arden Pabst.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.