Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining Players Gained, Lost in Rule 5 Draft

Aug 28, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Josh Palacios (68) steals second base against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 28, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Josh Palacios (68) steals second base against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JULY 21: Left fielder Jared Oliva #14 of the Pittsburgh Pirates catches a fly ball hit by Josh Rojas #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on July 21, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

Lost

C/OF Blake Sabol

The big loss of the day was Blake Sabol. Sabol put together an outstanding season between Double-A and Triple-A, where he batted .284/.363/.497 with a .373 wOBA and 130 wRC+. Sabol hit for decent pop, crushing 19 homers with a .213 ISO. He also walked 10.7% of the time but did come with a tad high 25.1% strikeout rate. Sabol can play both catcher and outfield but isn’t much of a defender at either. Sabol was selected by the division rival Cincinnati Reds but soon traded him to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for cash and a PTBNL. The Giants must keep Sabol on their 26-man roster all season or offer him back to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sabol was also the only Pirate selected in the major league portion of the draft.

RHP Enmanuel Mejia

Enmanuel Mejia was a relief prospect in the Pirates’ minor league system. Mejia is coming off a rough season, posting a 5.80 ERA, 4.93 FIP, and 1.63 WHIP in 49.2 innings. His 1.09 HR/9 was his best peripheral stat, as he had a sub-par 22.7% K-rate and a worryingly high 13.8% walk rate. But Mejia was named the Pirates’ minor league reliever of the year in 2021. However keep in mind even though he was named the organization’s minor league relief pitcher of the year, he also had a 14.9% walk rate. He throws hard but has obvious and major command issues. Mejia was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays.

LHP Joe Jacques

Joe Jacques is an interesting case. The lefty reliever was a 2018 33rd-round pick who throws sidearm. Jacques had an unimpressive 2022 campaign at Triple-A. In 37.1 frames, the unorthodox lefty had a 3.62 ERA, 4.74 FIP, and 1.26 WHIP. He had a 17.6% K-rate but a decent 7.8% walk rate and .94 HR/9. The Boston Red Sox claimed Jacques off the Pirates.

OF Jared Oliva

Once considered one of the Pirates’ better prospects, Jared Oliva has fallen from grace. Last season at Triple-A, Oliva turned in a .266/.324/.429 line at Triple-A with a 6.9% walk rate and 22.1% K rate. Oliva hit for some power but overall was a slightly below-league-average batter with a .333 wOBA and 99 wRC+. Now 27 years old and with multiple outfield prospects in the system, Oliva was no longer considered a part of the team’s long-term plans. The Los Angeles Angels swiped Oliva in the draft from the Bucs.

RHP Wilkin Ramos

Wilkin Ramos was acquired through trade back in 2018 from the Oakland A’s. Ramos had a solid 3.88 ERA at Low-A Bradenton, but this also came with a poor 4.30 FIP and 1.63 WHIP. Ramos struck out 24.4% of the batters he faced and only allowed two home runs, but he dished out a free pass at a 13.4% rate. Ramos is a ground ball pitcher who had a 61% GB% for Bradenton. He displayed a decent fastball but lacked the secondary stuff and command. The New York Mets added Ramos to their minor league corps during this year’s Rule 5 Draft.

RHP Austin Roberts

Austin Roberts was an eighth-round pick back in 2019. He had an excellent debut back in ‘19 but has yet to follow up with another quality campaign. Roberts pitched for Altoona last season, working to a 4.28 ERA, 5.07 FIP, and 1.47 WHIP in 48.1 innings. Although Roberts had a quality 25.5% strikeout rate and 8.6% walk rate, he surrendered home runs at a 1.68-per-9 ratio. Roberts typically sits in the mid-90s, but his fastball is all he’s got. His curveball is average at best, and his changeup has significantly declined since getting drafted. The Miami Marlins have decided to give Roberts a shot.

RHP Cristian Charle

Cristian Charle had arguably the best season among the pitching prospects the Pirates lost. In 53.2 innings, Charle had a 2.52 ERA, 3.29 FIP, and 1.10 WHIP between Bradenton and Greensboro. This also came with a decent 25.9% strikeout percentage and a 7.7% walk percentage. Charle’s greatest asset was limiting home runs to just a 0.5-per-9 rate. But Charle didn’t do great at Greensboro. He’s shown a decent fastball and change-up, which isn’t the typical 1-2 for a relief prospect. The Marlins also took Charle from the Pirates.

RHP Domingo Gonzalez

Domingo Gonzalez spent the campaign between Greensboro and Altoona. In total, he worked 104.2 innings, leading to a 4.90 ERA, FIP, and 1.39 WHIP. None of his peripherals stood out either, as he struck out just 22.3% of the batters he faced, had a 9.7% walk rate, and 1.12 HR/9. Nothing there was outright terrible, but there wasn’t anything there to entice the Pirates to protect the right-hander. The Atlanta Braves were takers on Gonzalez.

LHP Trey McGough

Trey McGough may have seen the major leagues this past season for the Pittsburgh Pirates had it not been for injuries that limited him to just 17.2 innings at Triple-A. Before 2022, he had a decent 2021 campaign in which he had a 3.19 ERA, 3.85 FIP, and 1.11 WHIP. He led Pirate minor starters in walk rate at 5.5% while having a 0.85 HR/9. But he only struck out 19.5% of opponents. McGough isn’t a hard thrower, has no pitches that stand out, and mostly relies on command. The Johnstown native was picked up by the Baltimore Orioles.

RHP Peter Solomon

Peter Solomon was claimed off waivers from the Houston Astros late into the 2022 campaign. Solomon worked to a 5.58 ERA and 1.51 WHIP for the Astro and Pirate Triple-A affiliates. Along the way, he allowed a whopping 22 home runs in just 109.2 innings to go with a 10.9% walk rate and 19.8% strikeout rate. Solomon also appeared in 14 frames for the Astros. Solomon will now head to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Utility Man Yoyner Fajardo

Yoyner Fajardo is a light-hitting utility man. Last season, the lefty hitter batted .260/.341/.359. Although Fajardo had a solid 10.5% walk rate to pair with an 18.7% strikeout rate, he had just 15 extra-base hits in 343 plate appearances. Overall, he registered just a 96 wRC+. His most significant strength is his utility, as he has plenty of innings logged between shortstop, second base, third base, left field, and right field. The utility man will head to the Minnesota Twin system.

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RHP Joelvis Del Rosario

Joelvis Del Rosario was arguably the biggest loss in the minor league phase. Del Rosario had a solid, though unimpressive, season at Bradenton in which he owned a 3.68 ERA, 4.53 FIP, and 1.29 WHIP. He allowed walks to just 6.4% of opponents but had a sub-20% strikeout rate and 1.16 HR/9. However, he had an adjusted 4.08 xFIP. The Oakland Athletics selected Del Rosario in the minor league phase.

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