The Rule 5 draft is just around the corner. With the Pittsburgh Pirates getting an early selection, these five players could be on their radar.
The Rule 5 Draft is a chance for all teams who have an open roster spot to take a shot in the dark to find a potential diamond in the rough. While it’s hard to find a quality player, it’s not impossible. The Pittsburgh Pirates will have a chance to take a prospect from a team early in the upcoming draft this year.
With the draft quickly approaching, the Pirates should be looking at who they could take. Today, I want to name a few players that should be on their radar. Given the team’s current roster construction, these players would have an opportunity for playing time in Pittsburgh.
Nick Robertson is the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top relief pitching prospect. Ranked as the organization’s 29th best prospect per FanGraphs, Robertson didn’t get off to the best start to the year. However, he turned things around at the beginning of the second half and was a very good reliever down the stretch for the Dodgers’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.
From July through the end of the season, the 24-year-old right-hander tossed 33 innings working to a strong 2.73 ERA, 3.22 FIP, and 1.15 WHIP. Robertson struck out just barely over 30% of opponents with a 30.2% strikeout rate. On top of that, he had a strong 7.2% walk rate. Home runs didn’t give Robertson trouble, either. He had a .53 HR/9 in the second half of the minor league season.
What makes Robertson an interesting relief prospect is he has an elite fastball. He’s gained velocity in each of the last three years, going from the mid-90s in 2020 instructs up to 95-99 MPH this past season. It’s a 70-grade offering and is far and away his best pitch. He’s increased his change-up usage this year, using it as much as his slider. While both aren’t on the same level as his fastball, they’re usable offerings. His slider can be an above-average offering, regardless.
Robertson is an intriguing low-risk relief prospect the Pittsburgh Pirates could bring in during the Rule 5 Draft. Given the lack of bullpen depth, Robertson could easily get regular innings for the Pirates in 2023. He has the potential to work himself into a higher-leverage role, given a chance.