The Pittsburgh Pirates finished their relatively inactive Winter Meetings with the Rule Five Draft this morning. The Pirates news of the Draft is that they acquired another lefty reliever.
The Pittsburgh Pirates had the 13th overall selection in this year’s Rule Five Draft. For those of you who do not know what the draft, it is when there are players in the minors who have not been added to at least the 40 man roster after their fifth season spent in the minors. It essentially is to help prospects who may have their path to the majors blocked, get an opportunity with another team. Here is more from MLB.com on the Rule 5 Draft:
"“A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team from which he was selected for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player. Once a player is selected, he is automatically assigned to his new organization’s 40-man roster.”"
With that, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected left-handed pitcher Tyler Webb from the New York Yankees. Webb, looks to compete as the left-handed specialist in the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen this upcoming season. As mentioned above sometimes these players are stuck in the minors because their Major League club has no room for them. The Yankees bullpen was well stocked last season, and therefore did not have an opportunity for Webb. Now Webb is a Pittsburgh Pirate.
JJ Cooper of Baseball America rated Webb as one of the best available players. Webb has three pitchers. His fastball sits in the low 90s and he also offers up an average change-up and slider. What helps Webb is he can be very deceptive, he is 6’6” and has a good arm angle that helps him hide the ball. Webb projects to be a left-handed specialist for now. Last year he held lefty hitters to a .215 batting average while compiling a 1.01 WHIP. Meanwhile he was less successful against right-handed hitter getting hit at a .258 clip and owning a 1.34 WHIP.
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At 26 years of age it seems that Webb is fully developed. Not much will change in regards to his actual pitches. With that if the Bucs can make some adjustments to his mechanics he may find a little more success versus right-handed hitters. If not he will be used in spot situations, like against Anthony Rizzo or Joey Votto in the middle innings in a jam.
This move brings in another left-handed relief option to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Currently their lefty bullpen options are made up of Felipe Rivero, Tony Watson, Antonio Bastardo, and Wade LeBlanc, and possibly Steven Brault. Now add Webb onto that list. I doubt the Pittsburgh Pirates would have drafted him if they truly were not ready to give him a shot. This move also reinforced that one if not two of these guys listed could be moved. Antonio Bastardo’s name has been put out there among the rumors, and some are speculating that Watson also could be available being he is in his last year of control. Webb helps give some controllable, upside insurance if they do act on a deal for the latter two.
Pirates Lose No One to MLB Teams
The Pittsburgh Pirates did not lose any of their players who were Rule Five eligible. Many thought rising prospect Eric Wood had a chance to be taken. Would provides defensive flexibility and right-handed bat that some thought would play off a bench. The other name was outfielder Barrett Barnes. The 2012 second round pick has struggled to stay healthy, but when he has played he has given solid production. Barnes plays solid defense at all three outfield positions, brings above average speed, and should have a decent bat at the big league level. However, with his injury concerns teams likely did not want to waste a roster spot.
Pirates Lose Three in Minor League Portion
The Pittsburgh Pirates did lose three minor league players in the minor league portion of the rule five draft. The Bucs lost three pitchers in Cesilio Pimentel, Josh Smith, and Colten Brewer. None are considered as significant prospects.
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Finally, all numbers from Baseball Reference