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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Ryan Fernandez

Ryan Fernandez was a 23rd-round pick in the 2018 draft by the Boston Red Sox. When Fernandez takes the mound, he can be a very sound right-handed reliever with good stuff. However, he does have an inconsistent health track record. Still, his stuff would play out of a Major League bullpen right now.

Fernandez opened the year with a 1.52 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 2.18 FIP in 23.2 innings for the Red Sox’s A-Ball and Double-A affiliates. He had a strong 35.2% strikeout rate, with a solid 8.8% walk rate while only allowing home runs at a 0.38-per-9 pace. Fernandez had a ground ball rate below 40% at Double-A but still had a 3.11 xFIP.

The right-handed reliever got sent to Triple-A, where the numbers aren’t as bad as they may seem. Fernandez owned an ERA over 6.00 at 6.16 with a 5.24 FIP. But he cut his walk rate down to 7.2%, and while his K% dropped significantly, it was still a solid 25.2% rate. Where Fernandez struggled was with home runs, as he had a 2.05 HR/9 rate. However, take his ERA, FIP, and WHIP with a grain of salt.

Fernandez had a .353 batting average on balls in play, compared to a much more sustainable .280 rate in his first 23.2 innings of the year. His home run to flyball ratio also went through the roof to 24.1%. His HR/FB ratio was the 19th highest among Triple-A pitchers with 30+ innings pitched.

Baseball America loves Fernandez, claiming that “Few available Rule 5 pitchers can match Fernandez’s stuff.” The righty sits in the mid-90s with his fastball, but the best weapon he has is his upper-80s gyro slider. He’ll also mix in a power-curveball and a cutter.

The 6’0”, 170 pounds right-hander brings his glove up and his arm down in his delivery before delivering the ball at a high three-quarters arm slot. Fernandez’s numbers at Triple-A are much better than they may seem, given he suffered from some poor defense and bad flyball luck. He’s definitely another arm that, like Slaten, is loved by a popular prospect outlet.