Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Rule 5 Daft Decisions Loom Ahead of Deadline

The deadline to add Rule 5 eligible prospects to the 40-Man roster has arrived and the Pittsburgh Pirates have some decisions to make on who to protect and who to leave unprotected before 6 p.m. tonight.
Tsung-Che Cheng
Tsung-Che Cheng / Shi Tang/GettyImages
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Infielder Tsung-Che Cheng

Another prospect that could potentially be added to the 40-Man roster is 22-year-old infielder, Tsung-Che Cheng. Known for his contact ability, solid fielding ability, and extreme athleticism and versatility, Cheng has the tools and a high ceiling which could earn himself a 40-Man spot. Before the 2023 season, Cheng played for Chinese-Taipei in the World Baseball Classic and got to showcase himself in front of world. Like Ashcraft, Cheng was also promoted to Double-A Altoona following a dominant stint in High-A Greensboro, where he hit .308/.406/.575, with 9 home runs, drove in 31 RBI, and had a 163 wRC+ across 254 plate appearances. Cheng also stole 13 bases, walked 13.8% of the time at the plate, and was great defensively.

While Cheng’s stats with the Curve aren’t as impressive as his High-A stats, there is still a lot to like. In Double-A, Cheng’s stats had a noticeable drop off, hitting .251/.304/.352, with 4 home runs, drove in 25 RBI, and had an 80 wRC+, a massive drop off compared to his High-A stint. Cheng also stole 13 bases with the Curve, but struggled to get on base, and struck out 18.9% compared to walking 6% of the time at the plate. Even with his struggles, Cheng is currently the no.18 prospect in the Pirates farm system according to MLB Pipeline.

Due to the Pirates having a long list of young infielders like Nick Gonzales, Jared Triolo, Liover Peguero, Ji Hwan Bae, and others competing for playing time, this could lead to the Pirates not adding him to the 40-Man roster. Cheng is a definite wild card option and could be left off the 40-Man, but I think it would be a mistake to not protect the young infielder.