The Pittsburgh Pirates set their 40-man roster today, adding four players and protecting those players from the upcoming Rule 5 draft on December 11th. The players on the lists below are eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
When a player is eligible for the Rule 5 draft, that means any team can select him in the draft, paying $50,000 to the former team. The drafting team has to protect that player by placing him on the 25-man roster for the entire 2015 season. If a team can’t keep the player on the 25-man roster, they must place the player on waivers. If the player is claimed, the new team has to keep the player on the 25-man roster or waive him. If the player clears waivers, they have to be offered back to their original team for $25,000. Rule 5 picks can be placed on the disabled list, but they must spend at least 90 days on the active roster. Otherwise their Rule 5 restrictions carry over to the 2016 season until they’ve reached 90 days total on the active roster.
A player getting picked doesn’t mean that player will be totally lost. The odds of players sticking in the majors for the entire season are very slim. It’s not impossible, as we saw last year with Wei-Chung Wang going to the Milwaukee Brewers. But most players exposed to the Rule 5 draft these days amount to waiver claims. You’re not really risking a potential impact player, and the worst that usually happens is that you lose a good middle reliever or a bench player.
With that said, here are the notable players who were left unprotected, with the full list below.
Jason Creasy – He would have been the fifth guy I would have protected. Creasy works in the low 90s, and tops out at 95 MPH. He’s got some of the best control in the system, and good off-speed stuff at times, although he lacks a strikeout pitch. He’s got the chance to be a back of the rotation starter in the majors, or a bullpen arm. My guess here is that the Pirates are banking on the fact that not a lot of pitchers from below Double-A get drafted and stick on a MLB roster all year.
Jose Osuna – I’m mentioning him here because he’s going to be one of our top 50 prospects this year, and a guy to watch in Altoona. It wasn’t too long ago that he was on the same level as Gregory Polanco, Alen Hanson, and Willy Garcia. Osuna has fallen behind the other three, but showed some promise with the bat last year. First basemen rarely get drafted, so there isn’t much risk of losing Osuna.
Stetson Allie – I repeat the “first basemen rarely get drafted” line here, and we saw it last year with Allie. This is the second year in a row that he was left unprotected, and I don’t think he did enough in 2014 to change the minds of the other 29 MLB teams to suggest that he’s worth stashing on the bench all year. I like Allie’s power, and think he could reach the majors one day, but he’s not a risk to be drafted.
Mel Rojas – The upside with Rojas is a fourth outfielder who can play all three outfield spots and add speed on the bases. He could be an option for the Pirates this year out of Triple-A as a reserve outfielder, and I would have taken him in that role over Jaff Decker. He wasn’t drafted last year when he went unprotected, but had a much better season in Altoona this year, and decent numbers in Triple-A. He could be a risk to be taken this year, especially if teams view him as a cheap bench player or a future starter.
Keon Broxton – He’s similar to Rojas, with the exception that he didn’t get the call to Triple-A this year. It’s possible Broxton could be taken for the same reasons as Rojas, although Rojas would be the bigger risk to be drafted.
Andy Oliver – The Pirates need lefty relievers, and Oliver is a candidate. However, he’s not a top candidate, as they showed in September by calling up Bobby LaFromboise and leaving Oliver in Triple-A. He went through waivers during the 2014 season, and was unclaimed. So I doubt that a team out there would use a Rule 5 pick on him. I do think he could be an option for the Pirates during the 2015 season as a second lefty. If he goes un-drafted, they would have him in Triple-A all season.
Gift Ngoepe – He’s a strong defensive shortstop who will eventually play in the majors due to his defense at short. However, he went un-drafted last year, and will probably go un-drafted again this year, unless a team is looking for a cheap defensive backup. The Pirates could be one of those teams, although they’ve got options with this week’s signing of Gustavo Nunez to a minor league deal, and today’s waiver claim of Pedro Florimon.
Angel Sanchez – He became eligible when the Pirates outrighted him off the 40-man roster before the winter meetings. Sanchez is a hard thrower, but lacks command of his fastball, and needs work mixing up his pitches. He hits 95 MPH with his fastball and has a strong cutter, but has been hit hard in Double-A. It’s unlikely he gets selected, since every team just passed on him when he was on waivers, allowing him to be outrighted to Indianapolis.
First time Eligibles
Melvin Del Rosario
Christopher De Leon
Zack Von Rosenberg
As an addition to the above list, any minor league free agents who are signed before the Rule 5 draft are eligible to be drafted by other teams.