Pittsburgh Pirates: Previewing Rule 5 Eligible Prospects

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Pittsburgh Pirates
BRADENTON, FLORIDA – MARCH 16: Endy Rodriguez #80 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a picture during the 2022 Photo Day at LECOM Park on March 16, 2022 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /


Endy Rodriguez is coming off another fantastic season. In 531 plate appearances, Rodriguez batted .323/.407/.590 with a .434 wOBA and 166 wRC+. Rodriguez also had a healthy 11.3% walk rate and 19% strikeout rate. On top of that, he was over 100% better than the league-average batter in the second half of 2022. Rodriguez made his way from High-A Greensboro all the way to Triple-A Indy. He’s a decent defensive backstop, but he can play first base, second base, and left field. Rodriguez has gone from a mid-tier organization prospect to a top-50 prospect in a matter of two years.

Abrahan Gutierrez is another noteworthy catching prospect in the organization. Acquired at the 2021 trade deadline, Gutierrez batted .257/.356/.411 with a .353 wOBA and 113 wRC+. Gutierrez had a poor 25.4% strikeout rate but also walked 11.8% of the time. He also finished off the year strong with a second half in which he had a .840 OPS, .383 wOBA, and 130 wRC+. Gutierrez is about average behind the dish but started to play some first base this year in order to make room for the rest of the catching prospects in the system.

Blake Sabol is another guy who is coming off a strong season at the dish. Through 513 plate appearances for Altoona and Indy, Sabol batted .284/.363/.497 with a .373 wOBA and 131 wRC+. Sabol had a sub-par 25.1% strikeout rate but walked just over 10% of the time with a 10.7% K-rate. Plus, he hit 19 home runs. Sabol can play catcher and corner outfield and could see some time at first base, given the lack of depth at the position. He’s also a poor defender behind the dish with an arm on the weaker side, so first base might end up being his best position, given his skill set.

The last ranked prospect worth mentioning is Carter Bins. Marty recently recapped Carter Bins’ 2022 season. Acquired for Tyler Anderson at the ’21 deadline, Bins was the owner of a .196/.285/.388 slash line. His wOBA sat at .299, and his wRC+ was 78. Of the few positives, Bins had a solid 8.8% walk rate and a .192 isolated slugging percentage while displaying solid defense behind the dish. But he struck out well over 35% of the time (36.2%), which limits his power potential.

Among the other backstops, the Pirates have who are Rule 5 eligible include Eli Wilson (.688 OPS, .317 wOBA, 90 wRC+) and Grant Koch (.583 OPS, .294 wOBA, 79 wRC+). Both Wilson and Koch are examples of the organizational depth every team has. Neither is likely selected in this year’s Rule 5 draft, and even if they were, neither is going to change the future outlook for the Pirates.