The Pittsburgh Pirates have added five players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the upcoming Rule 5 draft, and designated Zach Duke, Andy LaRoche, and Delwyn Young for assignment. The five players added were Jeff Locke, Daniel Moskos, Tony Watson, Kyle McPherson, and as reported here earlier, Michael Crotta.
The moves to clear space are a surprise, at least in terms of timing. With guys like Brian Burres and Chris Leroux on the 40-man roster, you would think that the Pirates would remove those options before getting rid of Duke and LaRoche. Duke and LaRoche were at risk of being non-tendered prior to the December 2nd deadline, and the Pirates now have 10 days to try and trade each player, so their removals from the roster at this point pretty much just gives the Pirates about a week less time to try and trade them.
As for the additions, I discusses Crotta in the link above. Locke and Moskos were guarantees to be added, with Locke being one of the top prospects in the organization, and Moskos being one of the top relief pitching prospects in the minors in 2010. Both pitchers could be in the majors by June 2011, and both are expected to start the 2011 season in AAA.
Tony Watson had a strong year between the Altoona rotation and bullpen, with a 2.67 ERA in 111.1 innings of work, along with an 8.5 K/9, a 1.9 BB/9 and a 0.9 HR/9 ratio. Watson, a left hander, usually works in the mid-80s as a starter, but works around 89 as a reliever, touching 91. In a poll earlier today, 64.91% of you said you would add Watson over Crotta, Brian Friday, Eric Fryer, and Jim Negrych. Watson’s presence on the 40-man roster leaves little need for Brian Burres.
Kyle McPherson is a bit of a surprise, although definitely not from a performance standpoint. McPherson had a 3.59 ERA in 117.2 innings of work in West Virginia this season, with a 9.5 K/9, a 2.4 BB/9 and a 1.1 HR/9. His strikeout ratio was one of the best in the Pirates’ farm system for starting pitchers in 2010. McPherson is a bit of a surprise due to the fact that he’s only pitched four innings above low-A ball. He turned 23 last week, so he’s definitely a prospect, but will need to be on the fast track next year if he wants to remain on the 40-man roster.
Among the players left unprotected by the Pirates were Nathan Adcock, Eric Fryer, Brian Friday, and Jim Negrych. Adcock and Fryer haven’t played above high-A, and while they have the talent to be drafted, they might not be protected all season. Friday and Negrych profile as bench options at best in the majors, and both players could be out of the system by the start of the 2011 season, even if they aren’t selected as Rule 5 picks.
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