With only 29 games remaining in the regular season, the Pittsburgh Pirates trail the San Francisco Giants by just 2.0 games for the second wild-card spot.
Currently, the organization cannot be thinking about the future, as it has a chance to win right now.
Still, when the season is over and talks arise about potential call-ups in 2015, the organizational leaders in Pittsburgh have to smile.
Lately, fans and analysts across the nation have been talking about just how good the New York Mets can be with a potential pitching rotation consisting of studs Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, but the Pirates have a chance to match or even top that rotation.
Starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow has been lights-out in 2014 with the High-A Bradenton Marauders. In 23 games started, Glasnow is 12-5 with an earned run average of just 1.74.
According to his team's official Twitter page, Glasnow even set a team record this season:
The 21-year-old right-hander was ranked third among all Pirates prospects entering this season, according to Baseball America.
According to Karen Price of the Tribune Review, Glasnow and teammates Nick Kingham and Josh Bell will play in the Arizona Fall League. The league serves as a showcase for some of the game's brightest prospects, providing them a chance to display their abilities deep into the year.
Glasnow recently was named Florida State League Pitcher of the Year, according to Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com. There is no doubt this kid has the potential to be the future ace of this organization in the next few seasons.
Like Glasnow, Kingham has performed well in 2014, going 5-4 with a 3.28 ERA in 13 starts with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. Kingham was called up from Double-A Altoona only 12 starts into the season.
According to the same report from Baseball America, Kingham is ranked fifth among all Pirates prospects. However, considering he is two years older than Glasnow and has already pitched at the highest minor league level, it is conceivable that he may get the call to the majors first.
Now, let's not forget about the most highly touted pitching prospect of all in the Pirates farm system, Jameson Taillon.
Many believed Taillon would make his major league debut at some point during this season. However, he was just another victim of a torn UCL leading to Tommy John surgery in April.
The 22-year-old has played three minor league seasons for the Pirates, averaging 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Taillon was ranked 22nd among all minor league prospects around the league heading into the 2014 regular season, according to Baseball America.
Barring any major setbacks in his road to recovery, Taillon should be ready to pitch again next spring, and if he pitches as well as he had prior to the injury, we may see him in a major league uniform sometime during 2015.
These three prospects alone have the potential to make up one of the strongest starting rotations in baseball in the next few years, and the Pirates have to feel pretty good about that.
A player who cannot be forgotten about is one who has already proved he can excel at the major league level, starting pitcher Gerrit Cole.
Over his first two major league seasons, Cole has gone 17-11 with an ERA of 3.42, and he was one of the main reasons the Pirates won 94 games last season.
Cole is not eligible for arbitration until 2017, and he will not become a free agent until 2020. The Pirates have locked in a player who has the ability to lead the rotation, which is what they will need going forward.
Pittsburgh also currently has the four-year veteran Jeff Locke, who has done well in 2014, going 6-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 16 games started. Locke will not be a free agent until 2019.
Then there is Francisco Liriano, who led the Pirates to the postseason in 2013 with a 16-8 record and a 3.02 ERA. Although Liriano has improved during the second half of this season, his poor start to 2014 has resulted in his 3-10 record and 3.98 ERA.
Liriano will be a free agent at the end of the 2014 season, and unless he is willing to take a short-term deal, the Pirates probably won't bring him back. After all, he will turn 31 in October and has made over 30 starts in a regular season just once in his nine-year career.
With the amount of talented prospects in the farm system, it would not make much sense to sign Liriano to a huge deal, as a number of players are just a few seasons away from making an impact at the major league level.
As they are led by Gerrit Cole over the next few seasons, the Pirates may have one of the best rotations in baseball for years to come, and while it is certainly true that all prospects do not pan out, it is hard to doubt the talent the Pittsburgh Pirates have in their farm system.
*Statistics Courtesy of Baseball-Reference
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