Underrated Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects to Protect From Rule 5 Draft

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 14: Ben Cherington, general manager of the Boston Red Sox, leaves the pressroom after addressing the media before a game with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park on August 14, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. John Farrell #53 of the Boston Red Sox will step down to start treatments Stage 1 lymphoma.(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 14: Ben Cherington, general manager of the Boston Red Sox, leaves the pressroom after addressing the media before a game with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park on August 14, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. John Farrell #53 of the Boston Red Sox will step down to start treatments Stage 1 lymphoma.(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Tahnaj Thomas

Had it not been for the Rule 5 Draft postponement in the 2021-2022 off-season, it’s very likely that Tahnaj Thomas would have been selected then. Thomas fit the mold of a Rule 5 draft prospect. Although he was coming off a rough season, Thomas displayed some very good raw stuff. Now that Thomas had a good 2022 season, the Pirates have to seriously consider protecting Thomas.

Thomas made the move to the bullpen this year with Double-A Altoona. In 50.2 innings, Thomas posted a 3.02 ERA, 3.63 FIP, and 1.26 WHIP. Thomas struck out 24.4% of the batters he faced with a solid 9.4% walk rate and 0.71 HR/9 rate. Thomas had always projected as a bullpen arm, and the move full time significantly helped him.

But it took Thomas a while to settle into his new role. He didn’t have a great April and May, but by June, he had figured things out. In his final 36.1 innings of the season, Thomas worked to the tune of a 1.98 ERA, 2.70 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP. Thomas’ strikeout rate sat slightly below 30% at 28.5%, but more importantly, he only walked 6.9% of the batters he faced and allowed just two round trippers.

Thomas throws hard, hitting 100 MPH regularly. He also throws a solid breaking slider, which is a second above average offering. Thomas has always displayed the talent to be a good pitcher, but just needed to find the right role. The Pittsburgh Pirates do not have much in the way of their bullpen, and seeing Thomas next season would be an exciting addition.

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