MLB Pipeline had two articles of note recently pertaining to the Arizona Fall League and the upcoming Rule 5 draft. The first article names the Top Prospects in the AFL this season as chosen by the managers and coaches in the league. The Pittsburgh Pirates had two players on the list, with Edgar Santana being named one of the top two relievers in the league, while Eric Wood was named one of the top six outfield prospects in the league.

Wood in the outfield is an interesting choice, as he played just as many games at third base, which is his natural position. He also took some turns at first base. It’s likely due to the fact he was listed as an outfielder on the roster. Regardless of the position, Wood was one of the best hitters in the league, posting a .330/.388/.489 slash line in 23 games. He has been playing winter ball in the Dominican since the AFL ended and has seen more playing time in left field than in the infield so far.

Santana couldn’t have performed any better in the AFL. He threw 13.2 shutout innings over his nine appearances, plus retired the only two batters he faced during the Fall-Stars game. He struck out 18 batters and had an 0.95 WHIP.

Rule 5 Notes

A couple weeks ago, we posted a list of interesting players to watch in the Rule 5 draft, which was released by Baseball America. That list included Eric Wood among the 12 names. MLB Pipeline posted their list and didn’t have Wood (or any Pirates) on the list. The link not only shows the top prospects available, they also have a list of the available players from each team’s top 30 prospects list.

It’s important to remember that some of the teams are weaker in talent when looking at the list. The Angels for example, have a horrible minor league system, so having four players from their top 30 available doesn’t mean much. The Tigers are another group where four players made the list, but they aren’t among the best systems in baseball.

The Pirates have the 13th pick in the draft on Thursday morning. There’s a great chance that the 12 teams in front of them won’t all make picks. That’s partially based on the fact that only about 10-15 players are picked each year. Sometimes a few more, but there has even been fewer than ten as well. There are also two teams picking ahead of the Pirates who currently have a full 40-man roster. They can clear space between now and the draft, but once the draft starts, teams with full 40-man rosters can’t make any picks. The Pirates 40-man roster currently sits at 38.

That being said, the Pirates haven’t made a pick since taking Gustavo Nunez in 2011. It’s very possible that they don’t lose or pick anyone. The price of a Rule 5 pick went up to $100,000 this year due to the new CBA, so there is a little more risk involved in the process compared to the old $50,000 price tag. I’m not sure if that will scare any teams away, but it could factor in if they’re really on the fence about taking someone. There was also some discussion that there could be a 26-man roster in the new CBA, but that didn’t happen. That extra spot could have made it easier to stash a Rule 5 pick on a bench or in a bullpen.

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