Pittsburgh Pirates: Previewing Rule 5 Eligible Prospects

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Pittsburgh Pirates
BRADENTON, FLORIDA – MARCH 16: Matt Fraizer #84 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) /


Matt Gorski is coming off a big season at the dish. Through 325 plate appearances, Gorski batted .280/.358/.597 with a .411 wOBA and 153 wRC+. Gorski has always had good power potential, but nobody saw this coming. He hit 24 home runs with an isolated slugging percentage of .317. He was on pace for over 40 dingers in 600 plate appearances. That did come with the caveat of a 28.6% strikeout rate, but he offset it some with a 10.2% walk rate and swiping 20 bases in 23 attempts. Gorski is a decent defensive outfielder with a strong arm, but he can also play first base. It would be nice if he turned into a 2018/2020 Cody Bellinger.

Arguably the second-best outfield prospect the Pirates have who is Rule 5 eligible is Rodolfo Nolasco. Nolasco played in an injury-shortened 321 plate appearances. But he batted .239/.330/.425 with a .344 wOBA, and 111 wRC+. Nolasco walked 11.5% of the time but struck out in 34% of his trips to the plate. Nolasco also looked much better during summer, having a .940 OPS, .424 wOBA, and 163 wRC+. Nolasco isn’t the best defensive outfielder the Pittsburgh Pirates have to offer, but he can hold his own in left field, and he has a good enough arm to play a corner outfield position.

Matt Fraizer produced what was arguably the most disappointing season among all prospects the Pirates own. He batted just .219/.284/.333 with a .278 wOBA and 69 wRC+ for Double-A Altoona. He did swipe 18 bases in 19 attempts and displayed solid defense, but after a season in which he was one of the Pittsburgh Pirates best minor-league hitters, it was quite a disappointing follow-up. Hopefully, he can rebound next season, assuming he isn’t selected.

Connor Scott was acquired in the Jacob Stallings trade. He batted just .247/.308/.389 with a .309 wOBA, and 90 wRC+. His strikeout and walk rates weren’t terrible at 21.7% and 7.8%, respectively, but neither was anything great. Scott is a good defensive outfielder who projects to be a center fielder. But he is a former first-round pick, so there is some talent there. He also looked decent in 2021. Even if he ends up as a 4th outfielder, he should be a decent one.

Sergio Campana (.656 OPS, .318 wOBA, 95 wRC+), Jauri Custodio (.978 OPS, .458 wOBA, 169 wRC+), Fabricio Macias (.702 OPS, .309 wOBA, 88 wRC+), Yoyner Fajardo (.700 OPS, .327 wOBA, 96 wRC+), and Jack Herman (.623 OPS, .293 wOBA, 75 wRC+) are the rest of the Rule 5 eligible outfielders. Campana is certainly the most intriguing. He’s one of the fastest minor leaguers and is arguably the best defensive outfield prospect the Pirates have in their system. He also draws a decent amount of walks and had a 121 wRC+ and a .164 isolated slugging percentage in the second half. But he strikes out a ton. Even though he hasn’t reached Greensboro yet, it would be interesting to see a team take a chance on him and put him in a Billy Hamilton-esque, pinch runner/defensive replacement role. He has way more power than Hamilton, but strikeouts way more often than the Pirate-killing veteran speester.