Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/8/14
The MLB Rule 5 draft is tomorrow morning at 10 AM EST. The Pittsburgh Pirates have an open spot on their 40-man roster, which means they could make a pick. Whether they actually make a pick is another issue. The Pirates have made a pick in every draft overseen by Neal Huntington. They took Evan Meek in the 2007 Rule 5 draft. Donald Veal went in 2008, followed by John Raynor in 2009, Josh Rodriguez in 2010, and Gustavo Nunez in 2011. Meek was the only player who had any kind of impact with the team, and that was before he had his career derailed with a shoulder injury. Veal was the only player who was protected the entire season. Nunez was on the 60-day disabled list all year last year, which means he still falls under the Rule 5 guidelines next year. The Pirates waived him early in the off-season, and he was claimed by Arizona. Rob Biertempfel quoted Neal Huntington as saying there are some upside guys in the draft pool, but that those guys might be gone when the Pirates pick. The Pirates select 13th overall, which is much further down than previous years. Not every team in front of them will pick, but enough teams will make a selection that it could make a difference. Huntington also mentioned that the team is different this year than a few years ago. In 2008 and 2009 the Pirates had upside guys like Meek and Veal, neither of which were ready for the majors. Raynor and Rodriguez looked more like cheap bench options. Nunez was more of an upside play who wasn’t ready. The Pirates seem to be playing for the short-term after the signing of Russell Martin, so if they don’t go for an upside guy it wouldn’t be surprising. There is more talent in this draft than in previous years. Jon Morosi quoted an executive who said this year’s class had potential impact arms and bats, and was “one of the best” he’s seen. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com looked at the top 20 prospects who are eligible for the draft, and there are some interesting guys on the list, including some high upside guys. Even if the Pirates can’t afford to protect a player all season, it would be wise to draft a player. It’s a low-cost way to acquire a player, and the worst case scenario is that you get a free look at someone during Spring Training, waive him, and try to acquire his rights via trade if he clears waivers. In order to protect a player and retain his rights through the Rule 5 process, a team would have to keep the player on the 25-man roster all season. The player could spend time on the disabled list, but would need 90 pre-September days on the active roster. If the Pirates want to try and compete next year, it would be nearly impossible while protecting a Rule 5 pick. The only way it would be possible is if the player turned out to be major league ready, or at least capable of holding down the job without being a total waste of a roster spot. In short, it would be wise for the Pirates to take a player and try to get extremely cheap talent, but the odds of that player sticking all year are very slim. Eligible Players Here are the three players who would be most likely to be selected, followed by the complete list of eligible players. Kyle Kaminska - Kaminska not being protected was a bit of a surprise. It’s not that he has a history of strong numbers. It’s that the Pirates have invested a lot in him in such a short time, only to leave him unprotected. It’s hard to break down the Miami trade which sent a compensation pick and Gorkys Hernandez for Gaby Sanchez and Kaminska. We can’t pair the four pieces up and say what the Pirates traded for Kaminska. But you could argue that trading a compensation pick for Sanchez is a questionable move, and becomes less questionable if Kaminska pans out. The Pirates moved him to the rotation almost immediately, making a few adjustments which seemed to have worked. He had good results in limited time in Double-A, and then was one of the better pitchers in the league in the AFL. After all of that, it was a surprise to see him left unprotected. On the flip side, there’s not a lot to go on, so a team might not want to use a Rule 5 pick on him based on a small amount of success. Nate Baker - Baker is a lefty reliever now, after having control problems this year and converting from a starter. He was much better in relief, seeing an increase in his velocity in the process. There’s a chance that he could get taken, since left-handers are in value, although I doubt he’d stick all year since he’s struggled with control problems at times. Jeff Inman - Inman is very similar to two of the players the Pirates protected. The Pirates protected Vic Black and Hunter Strickland, both hard throwing right-handers who can hit 96 MPH or more. Inman can also work in the mid-90s, and has touched 98 in the past. He didn’t have the dominant numbers that Black had, but the arm is a major league arm. He’s dealt with injury concerns, but so have Black and Strickland. I could see a team taking a risk on his upside. First time Eligibles Ashley Ponce, SS Benjamin Gonzalez, SS Carlos Paulino, C Elevys Gonzalez, 3B Elias Diaz, C Evan Chambers, CF Francisco Aponte, 1B Gavi Nivar, P Jarek Cunningham, 2B Jeffrey Inman, P Joan Montero, P Jodaneli Carvajal, 2B Jorge Bishop, 2B Junior Sosa, OF Nathan Baker, P Porfirio Lopez, P Quinton Miller, P Rinku Singh, P Ryan Beckman, P Samuel Gonzalez, C Yhonathan Barrios, SS Zachary Fuesser, P Previously Eligible Aaron Poreda, P Aaron Pribanic, P Anderson Hernandez, 2B Andrew Lambo, RF Andy Vasquez, LF Charles Cutler, C Eliecer Navarro, P Emmanuel De Leon, P Eric Avila, 3B Erik Turgeon, P Francisco Diaz,  C Jeff Larish, OF Jeremy Farrell, 3B Jhonatan Ramos, P Kenn Kasparek, P Kris Johnson, P Kyle Kaminska, P Michael Colla, P Quincy Latimore, LF Stefan Welch, 3B Tim Alderson, P Zachary Foster, P
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