Pirates Add Five Players Ahead of Rule 5 Draft; Drop Four Players

The Pittsburgh Pirates have added five players ahead of next month’s Rule 5 draft and dropped four players to make room on the 40-man roster, which is now full. Ke’Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, Will Craig, Blake Cederlind and Cody Ponce have all been added. Dario Agrazal, Montana DuRapau, Williams Jerez and Luis Escobar have all been designated for assignment. For more on the players added, check out our Rule 5 preview from this morning. More on this shortly.

Of the players designated for assignment, the only surprising one is Luis Escobar. He has better stuff than either of the two pitchers they added today and he’s also the youngest of the group. He doesn’t throw quite as hard as Cederlind, but he has two better off-speed pitches and he’s able to hold velocity as a starter. Escobar’s main issue has been control, which comes and goes. He excelled as a starter in Triple-A (1.61 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, .127 BAA in five outings) before the Pirates made the odd decision to put him in relief when he wasn’t doing well earlier in the season in that role. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get picked up on waivers.

Agrazal saw a lot of time with the Pirates this season, making 14 starts and a relief appearance. He had a 4.91 ERA, which came with a 5.90 FIP and a 5.0 SO/9IP. He had a nice bounce back season after three different significant injuries in the previous two seasons. The only problem was that his velocity was well off of his pre-injury peak when his prospect status was at its highest point.

DuRapau got a chance in the majors as the Pirates dealt with numerous injuries. He was a deep depth option, but one they had to use for a time. He’s 27 years old and had a 9.35 ERA and a 2.07 WHIP in 17.1 innings.

Jerez was picked up late off waivers and gave up three runs in 3.2 innings with the Pirates. The 27-year-old reliever has a 5.33 ERA, a 1.82 WHIP and 24 strikeouts in 25.1 innings.

If Escobar clears waivers, he will be the best player available for the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft. You would expect a team to pick him up now when they would pay much less and not be forced to leave him in the majors. After him, James Marvel, Lolo Sanchez and Greensboro reliever Yerry De Los Santos are the three best options available.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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