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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Asa Lacy

Asa Lacy is the stereotypical Rule 5 eligible pitcher taken to a comically extreme level. He is the highest drafted Rule 5 eligible prospect since 2016, taken fourth overall by the Kansas City Royals in 2020. It’s been a mix of injuries and a horrific display of command, but Lacy is an interesting player to keep in mind, both because of his pedigree and his stuff on the mound.

Lacy was coming off a strong college career at Texas A&M, where he worked to a 2.07 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 3.29 K:BB ratio. Lacy only allowed eight home runs in 152 innings while having an astounding 36% strikeout rate. However, walks gave him some trouble, and he dished out a free pass to nearly 10% of the batters he faced, coming in with a 9.8% walk rate. But since his college days, it’s been all downhill from there.

Lacy has only pitched 80 innings as a professional, and did not throw a pitch in all of 2023. In those 80 innings, the left-hander owns a 7.09 ERA, 6.17 FIP, and 1.71 WHIP. While he has posted a strong 29.3% strikeout rate and solid 0.90 HR/9, he’s handed out walks like there’s no tomorrow. His 21.3% BB% is the 11th highest among all minor league pitchers with as many innings thrown (80+).

When Lacy was last pitching, he was still sitting 94-97 MPH on his fastball. His slider also has plus-plus potential, as FanGraphs considers it a 70-grade offering. He does occasionally throw a change-up, however, it’s clearly a third pitch. There’s no doubt Lacy’s stuff looks decent, and he might be able to fool some batters, but that command is a yikes from me.

Lacy would not be my first choice if I were Ben Cherington, but he also wouldn’t be my last. Given his former pedigree and the fact I don’t truly believe you can have a ‘bad’ Rule 5 pick given the random nature of the draft, Lacy would definitely be a prospect who would at least be on the radar.

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