I missed this yesterday, but MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo released his Top 100 prospect list with the minor league seasons ending this week and the Pirates have six players on the list, topped by Gerrit Cole at #8. In addition to Cole, James Taillon (#16), Starling Marte (#34), Alen Hanson (#54), Luis Heredia (#73), and Gregory Polanco (#96) all made the list. You can see the whole list and check out the writeups for each player here. If you click through that list, you can also see Mayo's Top 20 prospects for the Pirates
What's most encouraging about this to me (beyond the fact that the Pirates have six players on the list now and that three holdovers, Cole, Taillon, and Marte all either improved their stock or basically held firm over the course of the season while only Josh Bell fell off the list, mostly due to his injury) is that the three players that are on the list now that weren't in April — Heredia, Hanson, and Polanco — are all Latin American signings. When the Pirates built their new academy in the Dominican and started improving their scouting in the region, it was always something that was going to take a while before bearing fruit. This year with Marte making his way to Pittsburgh and Hanson, Polanco, and Heredia all breaking out in big ways, we're starting to see exactly what sort of job the Pirates are doing in the international market and it's encouraging.
You can see this in other ways, too. The rookie-level Bradenton Pirates, made up mostly of recent high school draft picks and international signings, won the Gulf Coast League this year and one of the Pirates' affiliates in the Dominican Summer League just won that league title as well. Minor League titles are ultimately meaningless to big league success in the long run, but it's clear that the talent level in the low minors is rising and that's a good thing.