The Winter Meetings wrapped up this morning. The Pittsburgh Pirates along with the other 29 MLB teams participated in the Rule five draft.
The Winter Meetings begin with the excitement of teams making potential signings and trades. It ends every year with the Rule five Draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates along with the other 29 teams had a chance to participate in the draft along with the possibility to lose players from their own organizations. There are two parts of the Rule five draft including the big league portion and the Triple-A portion.
Any player taken in the big league portion of the draft must remain on the drafting team’s roster for the following season or else be returned to their original team. Of course, there are ways around this. Last year the Pittsburgh Pirates got Nick Burdi through a trade after he was drafted in the Rule five Draft (same rules apply for a player who is traded). They were able to stash him on the 60-day disabled list along with a rehab assignment until the rosters expanded in September. Claiming teams can also work out a trade with the original team to allow them to retain a player if they want to send them to the minors.
However, this year the Pittsburgh Pirates had the 17th pick in the Rule 5 Draft. They chose not to draft anyone with their pick. Furthermore, they did not make any deals for players like they did last year for Burdi. So the team decided to pass on their selection. Meanwhile, none of their prospects were taken in the Major League portion of the draft. It could have been disappointing as the Pittsburgh Pirates had some notable prospects that could have been taken this year. This list was led by Brandon Waddell, Tyler Eppler, and Gage Hinsz.
Then came the Triple-A portion of the draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates were much more active in this part of the Rule five Draft. The Bucs added two players and also saw two of their minor league players taken. The team lost minor league players Jordan George and Rafelin Lorenzo. They also claimed two players when they selected Winston Nicacio and Randolph Gassaway, and then traded cash considerations to the San Diego Padres for Cristofer Melendez.
George spent all of last season playing for the Altoona Curve (Double-A) and had a batting average of .263 with five home runs. He is noted for his plate discipline, striking out only 47 times in 110 games while walking 41 times. With that, he got on base at an impressive .355 clip. Lorenzo spent time between the Gulf Coast League and Low-A West Virginia and hit .307 with an OBP of .319 in only 33 games. George went to the White Sox organization while Lorenzo went to the Cubs.
Coming back to the Pittsburgh Pirates is a pitcher and an outfielder. Winston Nicacio was taken out of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The righty pitched between Low-A and High-A last year and had an ERA of 4.72. He struck out 60 batters in 68.2 innings. Gassaway played with the Baltimore Orioles’ High-A affiliate last season. He batted .272/.348/.396 with six home runs in 109 games. Melendez had a 1.54 ERA in 15 games last season for the White Sox Dominican Summer League team, his fourth at that level.