Winter Meetings Notebook: Rule 5 Draft Preview

Rodriguez is one of the top options available in the Rule 5 draft.

Day three of the winter meetings wrapped up without any moves being made by the Pittsburgh Pirates, although we did have several rumors and updates about players the Pirates are talking to.  Day four will almost certainly bring at least one transaction, as the 2010 Rule 5 draft will take place at 9:00 AM, with the Pirates having the first overall pick.

The Pirates haven’t said whether they will use the selection, or trade it away, noting that there have been several teams that have contacted them about trading up for the first pick.  The Pirates could either choose to trade down, or trade the pick completely and avoid making a selection.  They have said that the Rule 5 class is thin, although picking first overall avoids any issue with the talent level of the draft.

There was a lot of talk on day three about Elvin Ramirez, a right handed reliever in the New York Mets’ farm system, being the likely number one choice.  That doesn’t necessarily mean the Pirates will select Ramirez, as they could trade down with another team that wants him.  There are a lot of mixed reports on Ramirez, but they all basically boil down to the fact that he’s dominating winter ball in the Dominican, with a fastball in the upper 90s.  Some reports have him touching 98-99 MPH.  Ramirez has some control issues, and only 6.2 innings above A-ball, which means he would be far from a lock to be protected all season by a major league team.

My personal favorite would be Aneury Rodriguez, who I previewed this week.  Rodriguez could step in and challenge for a rotation spot to start the 2011 season, although it’s more likely that he would pitch out of the bullpen to start off.  Wynn Pelzer (preview here) is a guy who I like better than Ramirez.  His velocity is a bit lower, more in the mid-90s, although he has much better control, and is rated the #6 prospect in the Baltimore farm system heading in to the 2011 season.  Adam Miller (preview here) is another interesting option, as the former top prospect could be stashed on the disabled list to start the season.

A few weeks ago I previewed the position players and the pitchers that drew my interest, as well as a few players who the Pirates should consider.  Out of the position players, the only one I would consider is Brad Emaus.  He’s got some power and can play second and third base, with hitting skills good enough that he could be a viable starting option at second.  If the Pirates drafted him, they’d probably use him as a bench player to start out, although he’s the most likely player from this thin draft class to become this year’s Dan Uggla.  Baseball America subscribers can check out their list of 25 players who could be selected in the draft.

As for the available players in the Pirates’ organization, it doesn’t seem like they’re at risk of losing anyone.  I would guess that Eric Fryer stands the biggest risk of being selected, although even he is a long shot.

If you’re wondering which players might be selected, and how likely it would be for a certain player to be protected, check out the Rule 5 draft trends from the past four drafts:

The most popular players selected are pitchers, especially right handers, as they are the easiest to stash on the 25-man roster, hiding them away in the bullpen.  Consider this chart tomorrow if the Pirates select anyone, or if anyone is selected from the Pirates.  Depending on the position, there is a historical 1/3 to 1/5 chance that the player gets protected in the long run.

I’ll be updating the results of the Rule 5 draft tomorrow morning, so check back early in the morning leading up to the 9:00 AM draft.

Other News

-I previewed the 2011 Pirates Prospects Prospect Guide cover today.  Hoping to have more information on the book in the upcoming days.

-This morning I wondered whether the Pirates were adding trade depth with their pursuit of bullpen arms and starters.  This evening we learned that the Pirates were offering Paul Maholm on the trade market.

-There is talk that the Pirates made an offer to Bill Hall.  There was also speculation that he could start at second, moving Walker to another position, although that speculation has been shot down.  I’ve seen a lot of “where will Hall play”, and surprisingly no one is even considering that he could be brought in as a bench player, which would make sense considering his numbers the last few years.

-There were a lot of updates on J.J. Hardy and Jason Bartlett today, and by the end of the night, Bartlett was traded to San Diego.  The Pirates and Orioles are the two teams involved in the Hardy bidding, and the Orioles seem to be making a strong push, with some reports early Thursday morning suggesting that a deal could happen Thursday.  Just throwing this out there: I wonder if a Rule 5 draft trade could play a role in trying to acquire Hardy, either with the Orioles or Pirates?

-The Pirates inquired on Octavio Dotel.  Will history repeat itself?  They also are interested in Bartolo Colon and Alfredo Amezaga.

-The Pirates are pushing hard to trade Ryan Doumit.  It wouldn’t shock me at all to see him traded in the next few days.

-Speaking of bad contracts, the Pirates are still interested in Kenshin Kawakami.  I offered my speculation as to why they might be looking at the Braves’ starter.  I’m hoping it’s to pick up his salary so they can get a pitching prospect at a big discount.

-Nothing final, but we learned the basic Matt Diaz contract information, along with some interesting notes about his negotiations with the Dodgers.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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