Pirates Prospects Who Are Eligible For the 2015 Rule 5 Draft

The Pittsburgh Pirates set their 40-man roster today, adding four players and protecting those players from the upcoming Rule 5 draft on December 10th. The players on the lists below are eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

When a player is eligible for the Rule 5 draft, that means any team can select him in the draft, paying $50,000 to the former team. The drafting team has to protect that player by placing him on the 25-man roster for the entire 2015 season. If a team can’t keep the player on the 25-man roster, they must place the player on waivers. If the player is claimed, the new team has to keep the player on the 25-man roster or waive him. If the player clears waivers, they have to be offered back to their original team for $25,000. Rule 5 picks can be placed on the disabled list, but they must spend at least 90 days on the active roster. Otherwise their Rule 5 restrictions carry over to the 2016 season until they’ve reached 90 days total on the active roster.

A player getting picked doesn’t mean that player will be totally lost. The odds of players sticking in the majors for the entire season are very slim. It’s not impossible, as we saw in 2013 with Wei-Chung Wang going to the Milwaukee Brewers. But most players exposed to the Rule 5 draft these days amount to waiver claims. You’re not really risking a potential impact player, and the worst that usually happens is that you lose a good middle reliever or a bench player.

The Pirates do have two guys who were left unprotected and have upsides bigger than relievers or bench players — Clay Holmes and Barrett Barnes. I’ll go over them specifically below, along with the other notable players who were left unprotected. The full list of unprotected players is at the bottom of the article. I want to add the disclaimer that I don’t think all of the following guys are at risk of being drafted in a few weeks. In fact, I think the strongest candidates are Barrett Barnes and Clay Holmes. Others are just mentioned for their chance to make the majors one day, their former prospect status, or because they had a noteworthy season this year. Here is the breakdown:

Clay Holmes – The Pirates have had their fair share of Tommy John surgeries the last few years, and Holmes was one of the big ones. He’s a tall right-hander who can work in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball, and has a promising curveball. After missing the 2014 season with Tommy John, Holmes returned in 2015, and looked good in his limited time in Bradenton. He fixed some of his control problems at the end of the 2013 season in West Virginia, and that looked to carry over to the next level, even after the injury. Holmes has the upside of a middle of the rotation starter, and could make the jump to Altoona at the start of the 2016 season. If another team takes him, he could stick in the majors as a reliever, with his fastball playing up out of the bullpen, and his curveball working as an out pitch.

Barrett Barnes – Most of his career has been plagued by injuries, which really hurt the chances for Barnes to develop his bat. He’s a very toolsy outfielder with above average raw power, and some of that started to show up this year in his first healthy season. He’s lower on the Pirates’ strong outfield depth list, behind Meadows and Ramirez from a prospect standpoint, and with seemingly little chance of being a starter one day in Pittsburgh. However, it makes sense to protect him, as he could be a starter one day in the majors, and has value to the organization as a trade chip. Furthermore, he would be an easy guy to protect for another team, as he can play all three outfield spots, with good defense in center field, and can provide speed on the bases. The move to leave him unprotected might be related to his injury history, but there’s a chance the Pirates could lose a good prospect here.

John Kuchno – He’s got the potential to be a Jared Hughes type reliever, although I don’t see him getting selected in the Rule 5 draft. He’s got the biggest ground ball tendency in the system, but that’s about the extent of what he can do for now. He should pitch in the majors one day, but he’ll be safe from the Rule 5.

Jin-De Jhang – Jhang is a great pure hitter who has some good defensive skills behind the plate that allow him to stick there, despite his size. He’s also surprisingly agile for his size. He’s behind Reese McGuire right now, and will probably stay behind him if the two move up to Altoona next year. I don’t see him getting selected, as I don’t think he’s ready to be a backup catcher in the majors right now.

Carlos Munoz – He has no risk of being selected, since he’s extremely far from the majors. The same was true for Wei-Chung Wang, although it’s a bit easier to stash a lefty who can hit 95 frequently than it is to stash a first base only option who hasn’t played much above rookie ball. The 2016 season will be an interesting one for Munoz. If he can repeat his success at the plate in West Virginia or higher, then he could put himself in the conversation to be protected next year.

Jacob Stallings – He’s got the upside of a backup catcher, with strong defensive skills and great work with his pitchers, quickly learning their tendencies. He doesn’t hit much, and is limited to being a singles hitter in the future. From the strong defense/lack of a bat to his tall, skinny frame, he’s almost a clone of Chris Stewart. I could see him getting selected by a team that wants a cheap backup catcher. It wouldn’t be a massive loss for the Pirates, since he’s currently crammed between Elias Diaz in Triple-A, and Reese McGuire/Jin-De Jhang in Double-A. But you’d like to see them maintain their catching depth by keeping him around.

Dan Gamache – He’s got the chance to play in the majors as a utility infielder, and should start the 2016 season in Triple-A. Gamache probably isn’t a big risk to be taken, since he doesn’t provide a lot of defensive value at second base, and doesn’t have the bat to provide value at third. If he is taken, it would hurt the Pirates’ bench depth in 2016, but wouldn’t be a huge long-term loss, since they’ve got a lot of strong options slated for Triple-A.

Luis Heredia – At this point, Heredia is more of a name than a prospect. He’s been a project for years, and while it’s still too early to write him off, at this point he’s not really a guy you worry about losing. He’s not at risk of being taken in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft, and considering the current state of the system, he’s a guy who might end up moving to relief in the minors in 2016. We don’t even have him in our upcoming Top 50, and there wasn’t any consideration given there.

Tyler Gaffney – Here’s an interesting name. Some of you may remember Gaffney, who was drafted in 2012, had a big year with State College, then retired to play football at Stanford. He went on to be an NFL running back, but has spent the last two years on the injured reserve list with the New England Patriots. The Pirates still control his baseball rights, if he ever decides to return. As a college player drafted in 2012, Gaffney is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year. He’s no risk at all to be taken in the MLB portion. However, it’s very possible that a team could gamble on the athleticism and the chance he might return to baseball, and draft him in the minor league portion. They’d basically get to keep his rights at a very minimal fee. The same thing happened with Russell Wilson a few years ago in the minor league portion of the draft.

First time Eligibles

Danny Arribas

Barrett Barnes

Colten Brewer

Jake Burnette

Bealyn Chourio

Jason Creasy

Chris Diaz

Elvis Escobar

Edwin Espinal

Tyler Gaffney

Adrian Grullon

Tom Harlan

Luis Heredia

Delvin Hiciano

Clay Holmes

Jin-De Jhang

Patrick Johnson

Sam Kennelly

John Kuchno

Carlos Munoz

Andy Otamendi

Carlos Ozuna

Jesus Paredes

Cesilio Pimentel

Francis Rodriguez

Henrry Rosario

Sandy Santos

Josh Smith

Jacob Stallings

Dan Urbina

Enyel Vallejo

Julio Vivas

Eric Wood

Previously Eligible

Stetson Allie

Matt Benedict

Kelson Brown

Brandon Cumpton

Christopher De Leon

Dan Gamache

Deybi Garcia

Jared Lakind

Jhondaniel Medina

Yunior Montero

Tomas Morales

Dovydas Neverauskas

Jose Osuna

Jose Regalado

Mel Rojas Jr.

Casey Sadler

Angel Sanchez

Isaac Sanchez

Jonathan Schwind

Rinku Singh

As an addition to the above list, any minor league free agents who are signed before the Rule 5 draft are eligible to be drafted by other teams.

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This is another process that should addressed by mlb
– Wang was eligible after 1 year in the minors due to an administration loophole.
– Holmes is eligible after 3 years after losing 2 years with tj surgery
– Barnes is eligible after only 2+ years due to multiple hammy injuries.

Anyway given the rules…There’s got to be a team who will stash a 4th OF of Barnes’ quality for a year and hide Holmes in the bullpen. I understand they are not ready and we don’t want to start their clocks. We seem to consistently be in situations where we are calling guys up in their last year of minor league control. That would have been the case with Holmes due to development and Barnes due to mlb talent blocking him. However, (and Tim kind of addressed this in a previous article) i would have preferred trading them as opposed to getting $50k each. Worse case should have been protect them this year and then trade them.

The more legitimate gambles were on catchers (Jhang and Stallings). There is a chance we could lose both. Stallings is probably very close to a legit slap hitting, good fielding, great with pitchers guy. And Jhang could be picked as a third catcher/dh guy by an AL team. I think Sanchez is still here for one last offseason as mlb catching depth (which Jhang and Stallings aren’t yet). If either Cervelli or Stewart get injured prior to opening day, I think Sanchez gets the call maintain in depth with Diaz for the year.

Arik Florimonte

So, if I’m putting this all together right, the reason they didn’t protect Holmes is because they actually do like him and therefore want to have him longer before he hits arbitration and FA, but if they protect him they will start that clock early, and so they are gambling that one will take him because he’s so far away from the bigs.

Kevin J

why keep Tony Sanchez?

Chris Hale

Shocked they didn’t protect Holmes. Upside of a mid rotation starter.. Come on there has to be someone you can cut lose

John Dreker

They didn’t have to cut anyone, still two open roster spots

David N

Question: Do the Pirates get to protect an additional player after one of those unprotected is picked? Seems to me there used to be some such provision. Maybe I’m misremembering.

John Dreker

No, all the eligible players are able to be picked until the Rule 5 ends


They can absorb a Barnes loss I think but losing Jhang would hurt. You never want to lose a catcher, especially one that can throw and make great contact from the left side. 43bb:75K per 600 AB in his minor league career and will be a young 23 as a AA catcher. There aren’t many guys like that out there. Still, he would be useless as a hitter in the MLB at this stage so hopefully teams pass on him. It would have to be some hopeless rebuild that would be the only one that could take him…like the Phillies or the Reds.


For the life of me, I cannot see how anyone can defend not protecting Holmes and Barnes, especially when the FO chose to protect Sanchez, Florimon, and others who do not deserve a spot or are talents that are easily replaced like Decker. Plus, Sanchez, Florimon and Decker are out of options, so they have to make the team or risk being lost when they try to sneak them through waivers to outright them to AAA. It’s a head scratcher.


Because Barnes is 24 and more than likely going to play a corner OF spot, corner spots are hardly ever picked in the Rule 5 Draft. Most teams have a several guys that can bat 8th, and fake CF, no reason to devote a 25 man roster spot for that type of player.


Andrew…but they do take guys like Holmes.

That made no sense.


RHP low 90s fastball, average curve, below average change up, below average command, reconstructed UCL. I pity the team spending a 25 man roster spot on him.

Luke S

I feel like people over hype the Rule 5 and how often a ton of guys get picked.

Saying any of these guys is a lock to get picked seems to be really excessive. Possible, but no sure thing.


I don’t get Florimon being protected but I do think Holmes is not close to being ready to pitch in the majors even if some team hides him.

dr dng

We now have open slots. I would assume its for free agents.
Is there any chance the Pirates would make a rule 5 pick
or is that unusual for a 98 win team?


I wonder if a LH bullpen type is available. I thought those were usually popular picks if a good team makes a rare selection.


I like the LH the Cubs picked up from the Mets. I wished we had gotten him.


It would be unusual considering how late they would be picking, you would most likely if anything, see a selection in the minor league portion


If Holmes was healthy last year and pitched well, he’d likely would have been protected. Given his recent TJS, I don’t think there is much risk of him being taken – since he would have to be kept on the 25 man all year.

The guys who I think COULD be selected, because they are experienced enough and were close enough to the majors to be feasible major leaguers, are – Gamache (as a utility player), Barnes and Rojas (as an extra OFer), Osuna,, and Jin-De Jhang (catchers who can hit are hard to find). I am glad I have not reviewed the 40 man, because I would likely be perturbed by 1-2 who they did protect. Please tell me that Decker is NOT on the 40 man!


I liked Decker as an OB guy, but why protect Florimon (you put NGoepe on the roster) or Tony “The Yips” Sanchez?


Ah, the Rule 5 draft – yet another complete b.s. part of the MLB system that royally screws small-market teams


It doesn’t really screw anyone but the young players who get taken who aren’t ready. But even them it gives a full year’s mlb salary they might never have gotten otherwise. Sure the Pirates have more unprotected talent than average because of their depth, but it’s not to the extreme level. If you look at some of the other top 10-15 teams you’ll see they have similar talent left unprotected. The system could be tweaked a little but it mostly works.

dr dng

Any chance we lose Rojas?

Bruce Humbert

Leading the DR in HRs?


A HR streak does not make a HR hitter. See Daniel Murphy in this years playoffs for 6 games.


But that’s probably going to lead to someone paying a few extra million over the next 3-4 years. It shouldn’t, but I think it will.


I think the Pirates are in a great position with Walker. They can ask for a lot and keep him through next year and in a contract year still in his prime he will be a comp pick guy almost certainly…or you wait 3 months and see what you have with Moroff & Hanson and get Kang back and could trade him at the deadline. The deadline thing is iffy though because Walker is such a big piece and a Pittsburgh guy, I don’t know how that affects a clubhouse in the middle of a race.


It has in the past too. People get enamored by post season performances. Mark Lemke won a series MVP once.


Probably not but I could see a team giving him a tryout in ST and if he does well there, then maybe extend that into the season. The cost to a weak team of trying out a Rule 5 player is so minimal, and with the success of several Rule 5 players last year, I’d think why not?


I’d guess someone will take him just in case the HRs aren’t a complete fluke.

Bill W

Why in the hell would you have Tony Sanchez on your 40 man. That’s crazy!


Because he will almost definitely get taken, and we still need the catching depth. The front office remembers what happened a few years ago, they aren’t going to just give away a very solid AAAA catcher whom could still provide offensive value


Wait, I thought we were talking about Tony Sanchez?


lol….we are. I’m not a Sanchez fan, but I’m also not shortsighted enough to think he has no value to us

dr dng

I was a little surprised myself.


Wang was worth more as a Brewer than a pirate, carry him all year contribute greatly to the Brewers collapse that year. That said I’m a little surprise Holmes is available.


One of the stranger management decisions I’ve seen–to get off to that great start and still prioritize keeping a Rule 5 player over keeping the bullpen fresh?


Speaking of him, didn’t Wang just get released?

mitch t

Sounds like a Ray Searage project to me. Snap him up as free Bastardo replacement with special irony sauce


I wonder if we would take him back?


Holmes seems a better prospect than Wang; someone will take him and keep him. Maybe even the Brewers again.


Easy to say cause I live here but the Phillies have zero outfielders. I select Barnes and play with a 24 man roster. But…….then again I guess if he rides the bench he misses key development time in AA/AAA. If the way they juggled Domonic Brown is any indication on how they view OF development he might be as good as gone.


I, too, am surprised Holmes wasn’t protected. I could see a team
Ike the Phils selecting him and letting him pitch.

Barnes would not be that great of a loss given our depth.

Holmes is a good reason for that ‘out a year’ doesn’t count towards Rule 5 eligibility.

Bruce Humbert

Anyone on the list that Tim has in the article would be better than Tony Sanchez, Rondon, Knudson, Laframwhatever, Decker, Floriman…

Will be interesting to see how this works out – I am not impressed with the BMTIBB at this point – but maybe they know things I don’t

Scott K



They just might, you know this is the same management team that just assembled a 98 win club. Just for reference the last two significant rule 5 losses for the Pirates include Andy Oliver, ended up in AAA after being selected last year, and Wei-Chung Wang, who was ruined by the Brewers, weren’t exactly big losses. We all know your tired diatribe against the front office but for once have some faith; they know what they’re doing.

Bruce Humbert

And how many post season series have they won – not play in games – multi game series?

I could care less about how many games they win in the regular season.

Today is my 69th birthday and I want to see ONE MORE WS Flag in Pittsburgh.

The streak that matters is at 36 and counting – the rest of you losers can enjoy a team “that competes every year”

I had the great honor of working for a guy for a brief time who said…

“You don’t win Silver – you LOSE GOLD!”

And he was right



That’s about as stupid a statement as I have seen here in quite some time. If your idea is that the difference in getting to and winning a WS comes down to keeping A Jaff Decker or a Keon Broxton, I feel sorry for you.


I don’t want to be like the Marlins Bruce- winning 1 championship at the cost of a post-season firesale that makes the following ring ceremony the next year look like a 20 year high school reunion. I’m okay that you don’t care what happens as long as we win a title, but you are basically alone in that thinking

Bruce Humbert

Would it not be better to win and celebrate
two World Series Championships 1997 and 2003 rather than having a 36 year losing streak?

Sorry – I would rather have 2 rings than ZERO!


…..and thats why I’d prefer you to be a fan of another team. I’d rather have 7 straight teams (which we could very easily have due to our core) that keep us excited all year than have 2 winning teams created by going out and purchasing players I know we can’t afford, knowing right after the season we were going to be the worst team in the league and have no hope of a winning season again for years. You, my friend, have the heart of a redsox and yankees fan-

Scott K

The team with best record in AL played team w worst record in NL (playoff teams). If this doesn’t show playoffs are a mystery, nothing does.

Blaine Huff

Happy birthday.


I’ll second that – Happy Birthday Bruce. I think it is great that you want the Bucs to win, as do I, but I like the fact that they have been above .500 and a Playoff Team the past 3 years. That means they at least have the opportunity to go for the Gold.

Bruce Humbert

Thanks – I have told many of my belief in the WC Fields line – “If I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself”


All you can do is make the playoffs. After that, it is a crapshoot.

Best teams don’t always win it all.

Bruce Humbert

But they have only made the playoffs once – I don’t count play in games – the streak is at 36 and counting…

Sorry – I am for winning – not settling or “competing” like so many of you folks seem to be – hope I am wrong in that assessment. The bar is set at $120M – the Bucs are trying to sell the idea that they are stepping up big time by maybe going over $100M – it ain’t enough. As I said elsewhere – they could have added Volquez to the staff last year for $10M – and he would be on the roster for this year for $10M. CHEAP – STUPID DECISION IMHO.


That’s on you that you don’t count the WC game as the playoffs….MLB recognizes Pittsburgh as being in the playoffs 3 consecutive years.


Move to a bigger city if you don’t like it Bruce, your whining is quite honestly, older than you are. It isn’t the pirates fault that the Cardinals won 100 games, all you do is bitch about things that have no solution. We all want to win, but you have no better idea how to do it than anyone else does, so just be a fan, or go watch the cardinals, seriously.

Bruce Humbert

No – there are solutions – the Pirates could have signed Volquez for $10M a year for two years and had a starter who won 13 games – that would have made it a lot closer in the Central – and given them a nice value starter for this year – why didn’t they do that?


we wouldn’t have been able to get Kang either….just sayin


If they would have signed Volquez, then they would have had to NOT sign someone else who helped us this past year, namely- Burnett. It was always one or the other, we never had the cash for both. A few years ago we would have not had the money for either, so again….. quit complaining. We also would have had to sign Volquez for multiple years, probably 3, which means blocking Taillon or Glasnow. We also wouldn’t have been able to afford to get help at the deadline as in Ramirez (whom we desperately needed due to injury) and Happ. I’m tired of the glass is half empty crap. We make 3 good moves which are also budget conscious and you complain that we didn’t spend 10 million a year more that we quite frankly, couldn’t afford. If Volquez only warranted a 10 million contract for 1 year, we would have done it, but that’s not reality

Thomas H

That’s absolute BS. The Pirates had plenty of cash to sign Volquez and AJ and Kang and Happ and everyone else they signed in 2015. The contract Volquez ended up signing was very affordable and it would have been a good move for the Pirates at the time.

They were taking a risk in signing AJ because of his age and because he was coming off of a down year. If they had kept Volquez around as insurance they would have really capitalized on AJ’s unexpected All Star year, and they would have a strong rotation in place this year.

The notion that Glasnow and Tallion would be blocked if Volquez were here is utter nonsense. Neither will be ready in April and I doubt that Glassnow will be called up in 2016 at all. They’d be replacements for Morton or Locke anyway. But I do think that the perceived strength of the farm system played a major part in the Pirates decision to let Volquez go.

Last year the Pirates thought they had pitching depth in the minors with Tallion, Kingham and Cumpton as MLB ready starters waiting in the wings and they had a few projects like Liz and Clayton Richards. That perceived depth turned to dust pretty quick. Which lead to the Pirates needing to get Happ once AJ was injured. In hindsight it’s obvious that keeping Volquez would have been a great move.


It is not absolute BS- have you been in a coma since 1992? I’m not even going to respond to the rest of your comment, because it all is under the guise that we have more money than we say we do, and this is something you have no proof of. If you have some sort of balance sheet which shows how we could have afforded this extra 10 million per year, then prove it, otherwise shut up and stop trolling.

Bruce Humbert

Unfair – I have offered solutions – I am sorry I am passionate about the Pirates – 36 year of losing is hard to take.


I think Decker would be selected but then again I don’t think it’d be a huge loss. Nice depth though.


we can only hope that Decker will be selected….wishful thinking

Kerry Writtenhouse

Decker is on the 40

Bruce Humbert

Who would your rather have – rank these three

I think I rank Decker third on that list – and how many fourth outfielders does one team need?


Have you ever seen Rojas Jr. or Broxton play for any length of time Bruce ? It doesn’t appear that you have.


I think Broxton/Decker is a coin flipper because of Broxton’s speed. But Jaff is still young and has the great on base skills. If he ever hits .250 in the majors he could be a .330-.350 obp guy. Throw in even gap power and a few HR with that and he’s a .730 OPS guy…which is better than Travis Snider for his career. But with Broxton you get the steals and defense. I think it depends on what you want. For me Broxton has the alarming K rate. But he has showed improvement that Decker hasn’t.


not even close – Broxton


Too many strikeouts in his resume.


I like Decker…he seems like a good on base guy.

I am not impressed with Broxton or Rojas.


The most amazing thing is the 3 guys are almost all the exact same age. They are with in months of each other. To me Broxton has the great tools but Decker has the great eye that translates well to eventually figuring it out. Florimon is 9 for his last 99 in the majors with 34 K and 0 HR and a -18 OPS+ It doesn’t matter If he is Ozzie Smith with the glove. He should not be around. He had weak but almost ok stats at AAA but he will be 29. Is the SS position that bad in the majors? I’d rather take my chances with Gift on offense.

Bruce Humbert

but what is the difference between them – is Decker worth a spot on the 40 man? Why?


Decker is an actual 5th OF, Broxton and Rojas are potential 5th OF.

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