What kind of pitcher are the Pittsburgh Pirates getting in Rule 5 Draft selection Jordan Milbrath and what does he bring to the table for the Bucs?
This past Thursday was the fourth and final day of the 2017 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings. As always on the final day of the meetings, the Rule 5 Draft occurred on Thursday morning. In the Rule 5 Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher Jordan Milbrath.
Jordan Milbrath comes to the Pirates from the Cleveland Indians’ organization. In 2017 Milbrath pitched 56 2/3 innings combined between High-A and Double-A. He allowed 48 hits, five home runs, he averaged 10.0 K/9, and 3.97 BB/9.
Just from looking at his stat sheet you can see that Milbrath struggles with control, while also recording a lot of strikeouts. But, beyond that, what kind of pitcher are the Pittsburgh Pirates getting in Jordan Milbrath?
Jordan Milbrath’s top pitch is his fastball. He possesses a power fastball that sits in the high-90s and features sink. When he is controlling it, his power fastball can be a great pitch. However, throughout his Minor League career control has always been an issue. Control is something that he and Ray Searage will have to work on this spring.
Milbrath also features a unique side-armed delivery. The deception caused by this delivery is a big reason why right-handed hitters hit just .180 off of Milbrath in the Minor Leagues last season. He is also a groundball machine as he generated a 75.9 percent groundball rate at High-A in 2017 and a 69.4 percent groundball rate at Double-A.
Power fastballs with sink and high groundball rates are two qualities that the Pittsburgh Pirates value in pitchers, so it is easy to see why Neal Huntington and his scouts were intrigued by Milbrath and selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. While there is work to be done, Milbrath certainly has the tools that Ray Searage can mold into a successful Major League relief pitcher.
Due to Jordan Milbrath being a Rule 5 Draft selection he must remain on the Pirates’ active roster the entire 2018 season. If not, he will either be returned to the Indians or the Pirates will have to swing a trade with the Indians to keep him in the Pirate organization.
If Milbrath is going to make the Pirate roster to start the season he will need a strong Spring Training. Last spring Rule 5 pick Tyler Webb was excellent and still failed to make the team. However, Milbrath has much better stuff than Webb did, more tools to work with, and, therefore, is a more worthwhile gamble for the Bucs.