The Pittsburgh Pirates made a selection in the Rule 5 draft for the first time since 2011, drafting left-handed pitcher Tyler Webb with the 13th pick in the draft.

Webb was one of the top prospects named in JJ Cooper’s preview of the Rule 5 draft. He was a tenth round pick in 2013, and has been in Triple-A for parts of the last three seasons. Last year, the 25-year-old had a 3.59 ERA in 72.2 innings, with a 10.2 K/9 and a 2.8 BB/9.

Cooper said that Webb could be useful as a lefty specialist. He throws 90-92 MPH with a slider and a changeup, and has held lefties to a sub-.600 OPS in each of the last two seasons. That’s interesting, since the Pirates currently have four left-handed options in the bullpen.

They have Tony Watson, Antonio Bastardo, Felipe Rivero, and Wade LeBlanc. There have been rumors that Watson and/or Bastardo could be shopped, so the addition of Webb adds further depth if that happens. In order to keep Webb, the Pirates would have to keep him on the active roster all year, or try to work out a trade to keep him if he’s offered back to the Yankees. There’s also the possibility that the Pirates could trade him, since the left-handed relief market is thin this off-season.

The Pirates didn’t lose anyone in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft, and that includes Eric Wood. There was concern that they would lose him, especially after Cooper listed him as a top prospect. I explained last night why he was unlikely to be taken, since third basemen rarely get selected.

UPDATE 9:21 AM: The Pirates passed on making a selection in the Triple-A portion of the draft. They lost left-handed pitcher Cesilio Pimentel to the Braves. Pimentel is an organizational guy who could have a shot to reach Double-A. He pitched in West Virginia last year, and had a 2.65 ERA in 51 innings, with an 8.5 K/9 and a 2.6 BB/9. He can hit 90-91 MPH and has a low-80s 12-to-6 curveball that can get strikeouts. His command of his pitches doesn’t project to get him far beyond Double-A, and he’ll mostly be a bullpen depth option for one of the Braves’ minor league affiliates.

UPDATE 9:35 AM: The Pirates lost two more players in the Triple-A portion before the draft completed. The Yankees selected right-handed pitcher Colten Brewer, and the Red Sox drafted left-handed pitcher Josh Smith.

Brewer is the more notable prospect, getting $240,000 as an over-slot prep pitcher in the 2011 draft. He can hit 96-97 MPH, and has mostly worked as a starter, which was his role in Bradenton this year. There have been some disciplinary issues, with him getting suspended by the team twice this year for short amounts of time. I never received official word on why he was suspended, other than an indication that it was attitude. He also temporarily retired in 2014, before returning in 2015 to give baseball another shot. We had Brewer as a 20 upside, making him a non-prospect. He’d do better in a bullpen role, but would need better command of his fastball in order to become a prospect who can reach the majors.

Smith spent most of the year with Altoona, and had a brief appearance in Indianapolis. He’s an upper level reliever who didn’t have a shot at the majors, due to poor control and a lack of stuff. He can touch 90-91, but mostly sits in the upper 80s. He will probably give the Red Sox some bullpen depth in a similar role between Double-A and Triple-A next year.

All three of the players lost today had 20 upsides in our upcoming Prospect Guide.

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122 COMMENTS

  1. Well the Pirates got the pitching help they needed. It’s like Jeff Locke took a $3 million pay cut to stay with the team. Pirate Fest should be lots of fun. Wonder if the BMTIB will show up.

  2. For the Record- Shoulder Labrum surgery is horrible. 5 1/2 weeks out, still can’t sleep at night due to the pain, and…….mobility is about at 40%…….it aches pretty much all day……and this is no setbacks. Hard to believe I should be able to throw in 12 weeks or so

    • Super 2 eligibility isn’t likely to be a concern for a player like Webb. LOOGYs aren’t exactly the highest paid players in the Majors, and they’re very replaceable, even if he does get expensive faster as a Super 2.

      • I wasn’t sure if he was serious or just joking. But Super 2 can’t be an issue for Webb, because he has to break camp or be offered back to the Yankees.

        Also, if he made the team and stuck all year, he’d finish with one full year of service time. Super 2 would only come into play down the line if he had less than a year. But that’s impossible right now.

  3. Tyler Webb was a good choice – he is not going to light up the radar gun, but he has some AAA experience, has more than one pitch, and seems to know what he’s doing on the mound.

    I wish the Pirates would have done what the Orioles did – grabbed Anthony Santander in Round 2…..he is raw, but had a huge season last year in High A. can play 1B and OF – has power and speed combination – good size. He would have been worth a gamble in my opinion….can play more than one position (unlike Jaso), has power potential (unlike Jaso), and is faster and more athletic than Jaso – and a lot cheaper! These are the kind of kids teams like the Pirates need to gamble on – low risk (Rule 5 draft picks are cheap) and potential high reward. What is there to lose? If he doesn’t cut it, you offer him back to Cleveland….

  4. Off topic a little I just noticed the tweet about Jim Bowden calling the Eaton deal the worst deal he’s ever seen at the winter meetings. And while I agree this is an overpay, possibly a huge one, I’ve never really taken him too seriously after he proposed the Bucs send Mercer, pre TJ Kingham and Polanco to the White Sox for Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez. I’m pretty sure he had a Marte for Victorinio or something the year before. I love those articles.

    • I am definitely not a Bowden fan. His best article was “The Art of the Trade” (or some name like that).

      Lots of articles out there about those 3 pitchers.
      Some say:
      Giolito’s stock is down. Will it rise back up?
      Many think Lopez’s best place is in the ‘pen.
      The other guy’s ceiling (foogot his name) is a #4 or middle reliever.

      Perhaps not as big of a haul as first thought?

      Or….they all could become quality rotation pieces and Bowden looks like a genius?

  5. Is there any chance Rivero gets stretched out to be a starter? He seems to have 3 solid pitches and can work effectively against both right and left handed hitters.

  6. How do the trades of rule 5 picks work exactly? I noticed a couple of teams have already traded guys that they drafted today. Do the same Rule 5 requirements apply after a guy gets traded to another team?

  7. Rivero needs to show he can pitch effectively in high leverage situations before he can be considered anything more than raw potential.

      • That is true, but they all had more success and consistency than Rivero has shown to date. He’s young, so I have high hopes for him – but, his numbers with games on the line were awful last year – before and after the trade to the Pirates…

            • they are saying BEFORE we got those players, they weren’t good. That’s how we got them. Yes they became good setup men before the Pirates converted them to closers but before they got to the pirates they were so-so

        • Rivero in 2015: 3.44 xFIP
          Rivero in 2016: 3.55 xFIP

          He got there different ways, fewer walks in 2015 and more strikeouts in 2016, but he’s been a remarkably steady pitcher over his first 125 innings.

          • Are you ready to trade Watson and hand over the reins in the 9th? The walk and K rate spiked after the trade. To be fair it was only 27 innings. I’d be a little nervous to put him in there but his stuff is remarkable.

  8. There seemed to be very little Pirate activity at the winter meetings. I thought we’d at least hear something about Watson. Is this something where GMs start to work on deals but don’t finish them until later?

      • In hindsight that is easy to say Tim, but these decisions had to be made BEFORE the draft – not AFTER – hindsight is 20/20 so I don’t get your comment. Rogers didn’t need to be protected either – and if someone did take him, so what? Nothing lost.

        • There is no hindsight here. We’ve been saying this for a month.

          Rogers was on the 40-man roster. The only way to remove him his to put him through waivers and you are going to lose him in that process.

          Wood wasn’t a guy who was ready for the majors. It’s very rare for a third baseman to be drafted. And if Wood was drafted, he wouldn’t be able to stick because he’s not ready.

          So what you’re suggesting is that they should have gotten rid of Rogers guaranteed, also they could avoid a nearly microscopic chance of Wood being selected and lost completely.

          This isn’t hindsight because we’ve been saying this for a month. I was hoping that the fact Wood didn’t get drafted would be enough to show that we were right about his slim chance of being drafted.

      • Tim,

        How do you see the starting pitching market working out? Is there a chance the Bucs, try and trade for depth options with upside, from the Dbacks, Red Soxs, or Rays? Like Henry Owens LHP Red Soxs, or maybe even taking a flyer on Shelby Miller Dbacks, Or?

        • I rarely post but you are forcing my hand. Tim has for weeks explained in a rather clear manner why Wood would not and need not be protected. Turns out that a large majority (all but one GM ,ours) agreed with Tim and not you. Yet you continue to defend your position. Do us all a favor and just stop. I generally enjoy those that post but you give me a headache.

        • To add to Tim’s point its not really protecting Rogers and Gift as they were already on the 40 man would have to go through waivers (which they still can at a later date if necessary). They are easier to lose as they would not require to be kept on the 25 man roster or be offered back they could simply be optioned to AAA where Wood and Barnes would need to be kept in the Majors all season by which ever team drafted them.
          You are not comparing apples to apples here. They were deemed low risk to be claimed as most position players are since they are harder to hide in the majors and as it turned out they weren’t. Its always a risk but on the flip side they were also not players that had we lost we would be looking at the death of the future of the program of either. Its not like they were Marte, Polanco, or Bell type of prospects. They may contribute but that is also yet to be determined.

    • No it wasn’t dumb at all. It proved to be correct but you won’t pull your head out of the sand to see it, or take your fingers out of your ears while yelling lalalalala. To waste a 40 man spot and waste an option on Wood like you’re suggesting is dumb. Rogers can still be cut. The 2 things aren’t connected…… and shouldn’t be. You were wrong. Get over it.

  9. Nice pick. Watson or Bastardo can go anytime. Plus LeBlanc is cheap & can be released in spring training

  10. Watson is becoming too valuable as part of a trade. As the Kenley Janson saga plays out, the Dodgers could possibly want ‘Cutch and Watson for Cody Bellinger, Jose De Leon, Alex Verdugo, and Brock Stewart.

    • If Watson is traded who do you think replaces him as closer?

      You’ve thrown very good prospect names out in a theoretical trade and that would make for a nice trade.Still lacking the veteran presence for a SP.

      Cutch probably has to be moved for any kind of payroll relief to add to the roster.

      • I was thinking a “Closer by Committee” even with Watson, so giving Rivero the ball would be OK with me.

        I think the veteran presence will have to be Gerrit Cole, with Taillon and De Leon 2/3, Kuhl 4, and Hutchison 5. Many others to also consider at No. 5, and if they get Nova for the $12 mil average, they can insert him as the 2, and let De Leon mature at AAA until June.

      • This idea that a veteran pitcher is needed has been overstated. Pirates had a team ERA of 4.03 (Yes, I know there are more useful metrics) over the second half of the season with Cole missing many starts and a handful of guys making their first appearance. There is a need for one of those guys to eat innings or for someone else to. However, there is no guarantee the generic veteran pitcher is more likely to do that than, say, Chad Kuhl

        • Brock Stewart is a very promising young starting pitcher who could profile as more than just an “innings eater” but possibly a #3 or even a low end #2 guy.

          • At this point, the Pirates would be dumpster diving for help or signing someone with upside but poor medical history (Ross). No guarantees. Rolling the dice on reasonably high upside youth is not a considerably wose position to be in, and is cheaper. You can reply with an idiotic “haha really?” but one has to wonder if it would be wiser to spend $7-11 million on a bottom feeder/medically challenged pitcher, or roll the dice on a higher upside young pitcher who is playing for the league minimum.

      • if we trade watson and cutch, who cares who the closer is? The better question is, how awesome will we be in 2019?

      • In this scenario:
        Closer = Rivero (which may or may not turn out well)
        Major League Starting Pitcher Return = Brock Stewart
        Top Prospect Starting Pitcher Return = De Leon
        Top Prospect 1st Base Return = Bellinger

        I actually dig that return but, it will never ever happen.

    • Don’t forget JHay and it will be one of the most talked about trades ever. Or at least in the last few years, the always popular 10 player trade!

    • Wow, LLOYD was now hoping the trade stuff would die down since it seems that Cutch’s trade value is low. If he and Watson could bring this back though…………..Damn

  11. All the concern about Wood for naught. Webb looks interesting. I wonder why the Yanks didn’t protect him?

    • Can’t believe the other 29 GM’s passed up a player that is a combination of Pie Traynor, Brooks Robinson, Wade Boggs and Mike Schmidt. They’re so stupid….

    • Maybe one day there will be a web site that repeatedly tells people that Wood isn’t ready for the majors and wouldn’t be able to stick all year if drafted, and reviews the Rule 5 draft history to show that it’s extremely rare for a third baseman to get drafted and protected.

      • You just don’t get it Tim – or you refuse to get it.

        It is irrelevant whether Wood was drafted or not today….its the fact that the Pirates FO, in their infinite wisdom, thought that protecting guys like Rogers and Gift made more sense than protecting Wood and Barnes. Rogers is just a journeyman AAAA player, and a mediocre one at that.

        Maybe NH is trying desperately to save face given he foolishly traded two decent young prospects for Rogers….Broxton would make a nice 4th outfielder and Supak was a pretty good looking young starting pitcher prospect, who the Pirates spent a second round pick on.

        • See my response above. You’re suggesting getting rid of guys to protect other guys who didn’t need to be protected. So really what you’re suggesting is getting rid of guys for no reason at all.

        • Also, I want to point out your comments from last year:

          “Regardless of the outcome of the Rule 5 draft, how does one decide to protect a Florimon over a Barnes or Holmes – when there is a risk of any of them being picked? If Floriman gets picked, so what? If Barnes or Holmes get picked, you lose a potentially decent prospect who may yet factor in your future.
          The results of the draft doesn’t dismiss that question….I would love to hear NH answer that question…”

          You’re making the exact same arguments this year, and it would be best to explain the process by going back and reviewing last year’s decision.

          First, Florimon was eventually outrighted off the 40-man roster. They retained him, and he played for them in September.

          Barnes and Holmes spent the entire year in Double-A. Holmes improved enough to warrant being protected this year. He wasn’t a risk of being taken last year, coming off Tommy John. Had they protected him anyway, he’d have one fewer option right now. Plus, they would have had one less roster spot throughout the year.

          Barnes progressed some, but not enough to be drafted for the second year in a row. Once again, if they protect him, they use a roster spot. More likely, in his case, they waive him at some point to create a spot, and potentially lose him. They’ll have him for two more years now until he’s eligible for minor league free agency. If he progresses this year to being an MLB option, they can protect him at that point, and have three options heading into 2018, rather than one option remaining if they protected him last year.

          As for those roster spots, the Rule 5 picks from last year have spent the 18th-20th amount of time on the 40-man roster. That means there are currently 19 players who were added to the roster after them, not counting the numerous players who were added and are no longer on the roster (I count ten who have been removed in just the last month). So saving a roster spot, rather than wasting it on someone who doesn’t need to be protected, is a huge deal.

          That’s why they didn’t protect Barnes and Holmes last year, it’s why they didn’t protect Wood this year, and it’s why they won’t protect someone like Jordan Luplow next year, or whichever Double-A guy looks like he could eventually reach the majors, but won’t be a risk to be taken in that year’s Rule 5 draft.

          • Shit, Tim. Don’t save our comments. We only want to hold you accountable for what we say, please don’t hold us accountable …..
            I think I now have my favorite part of the rule 5 draft, ‘Responses from Tim!’

            • I only go back and read old comments in emergency situations. Like when I’ve been telling people for a month that Eric Wood isn’t a risk to get drafted, and then he isn’t drafted, and then I’m told that I’m wrong with the exact same argument used as last year, and then I’m told I don’t get it when this is literally what I do for a living and what I spend 70% of my time on, with the other 30% being beer and comic books.

              So just those situations.

        • Nobody ” gets it “, or anything else, but you ? Did your Mom repeatedly tell you just how smart you are all through your childhood ? SMFH…

        • So every other GM is as clueless as you constantly insist NH is since they didn’t draft Wood to take advantage of this clearly obvious gaff, or . . . . . NH accurately determined how this would play out, he didn’t lose any assets, and you might be – – I don’t know – – wrong here?

          Big picture, maybe NH should go (I personally very much disagree), but clinging to things like this as an example of it . . . . damn . . .

      • I was worried about Wood, more that he’d be drafted on a flier and then would bounce around as teams tried to get him through waivers like what happened to Bautista years ago.

        Last year Holmes was the one I was worried about, and more so than I was about Wood. Here a year later we’ve added him to our 40-man and in hindsight it would seem that a team should have drafted him last year. A team like the Braves, Brewers, Phillies, or Reds who were pretty clearly not going to be contending could have used him out of the pen and now have a quality arm in AAA.

        • Nobody in MLB would have used Holmes “out of the pen” this past season. Only unlike Tim, I am not going to waste my time explaining why to you.

          • Using Holmes out of the pen last year would have been much less far-fetched than a team, a contender no less, using Wang out of the pen.

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