Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Potential Rule 5 Draft Picks To Consider

Let's look at some Rule 5 prospects the Pirates should consider in this year's draft.
Mar 1, 2021; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals Asa Lacy #33 poses during media day at Surprise
Mar 1, 2021; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals Asa Lacy #33 poses during media day at Surprise / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Anthony Prato

Anthony Prato got off to a horrible start at Double-A. However, despite getting moved to the next level of the minor leagues, Prato took off for the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate and was scorching hot for the rest of the season. The utility man is now Rule 5 draft eligible and could get selected based on his versatility and patience at the plate.

Prato opened the year by batting a mere .171/.305/.248 with a .277 wOBA and 58 wRC+. While he had a strong 12.8% walk rate and a respectable 22.4% strikeout rate, it was about the only positive to come out of Prato’s time at Double-A. He also had a sub-.100 isolated slugging percentage, clocking in at just 0.78.

The Twins still opted to promote Prato to Triple-A, where he flourished. Through his final 299 plate appearances of the season, Prato batted .302/.452/.539 with a .440 wOBA and 153 wRC+. Although his K% rose to 23.1%, his walk rate became even better, with a 19.7% walk rate. The power also started to come around, as he went yard ten times with 23 doubles and an ISO of .237.

Prato has consistently been a threat to reach base, both in his college career and throughout the minor leagues. He had a .401 OBP at the University of Connecticut with a 9.1% walk rate. Since debuting in 2019, Prato owns a .390 OBP with a 13.9% walk rate. He now has put up an OBP over .400 in two of his last three Minor League seasons.

His versatility alone may get clubs to at least kick the tires on Prato. Last year, he played at least 125 innings at third base, second base, shortstop, and left and right field combined. The only non-catcher/pitcher positions he hasn’t played at least semi-regularly are center field and first base. Even then, he has 38.2 innings logged at first base throughout his career.

At only 5’9” and 185 pounds, Prato is not projected as a power hitter. While he did hit for a good amount of pop at Triple-A, it was the International League where the league average HR/9 rate was 1.29, and the average slugging percentage clocked in at .438. It is a hitter-friendly league. But given Prato’s extreme eye at the plate, you’re talking about someone who may still have a .330-.340 OBP, even if he only bats .240. His ability to play as a super-sub all over the field also makes him an interesting Rule 5 candidate.