Blake Sabol is Added to Baseball America’s List of the Top Available Rule 5 Picks

Baseball America released an initial list of 15 top available players for the upcoming Rule 5 draft, which will take place next week. They included two Pittsburgh Pirates prospects on that list, Matt Gorski and Malcom Nunez. BA added to that list today with ten more names and another Pirates player showed up.

If you read that article yesterday, you saw Blake Sabol was mentioned. BA added him to their list today. I added him to the group yesterday because I believe that he’s the most likely Pirates player to be picked. He has more Triple-A experience/success than any other top prospect available in the Pirates system. He also has multiple positions, including his ability to serve as a third-string catcher. Being a lefty bat with some power also adds to his intrigue.

BA mentioned many of those same things in their brief writeup today. Sabol is close enough to the majors that he should be able to hold his own. His versatility and left-handed bat makes him someone who can be used in multiple ways, so he doesn’t need to be hidden like most Rule 5 picks. What teams will decide before picking him is whether he has enough upside with the bat to warrant such a pick.

Sabol still has some contact issues and he can be pitched to, which MLB pitchers will expose more than minor league pitchers. He has a tendency to chase breaking balls down an in. While it’s a small sample size, his .686 OPS in the hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League didn’t get him much attention. Considering that the league is heavily scouted and he ranked 62nd in OPS in a six-team league, that last impression scouts got might be why the Pirates felt they could leave him unprotected.

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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Wilbur Miller

So it’s Lewin Diaz. It’ll be funny if nobody claims him.


So is the over/under for guys selected from the Pirates 0.5 or 1.5? If we lose one, I’ll not like it but figure it’s a function of having a strong farm and planning to bring in several FAs. If we lose two or more, then it would seem that other GMs don’t think too much or our GM’s ability to evaluate talent. If I was betting, I’d bet we’d lose one, but I think it’s as likely to be a pitcher (Bolton or Jimenez) as one of the guys BA lists.


I would tend to lean on an arm being picked as well, either Bolton or Thomas. The probabilities just don’t favor position players, especially if you have limited defensive flexibility, and most teams aren’t picking a Rule 5 player to start; think about how bad your system/ depth would need to be for that to happen. To me, Sabol is only interesting bc he’s a Swiss Army knife, but can he really C? I mean seriously, is he a viable option or more an emergency C?


Even if someone gets picked the likelihood of them coming back when the picking team can’t hide them on their roster is still high.


Ok people, BC didn’t leave the next Jason Kendall, Starling Marte, and Albert fricking Pujols exposed to the rule 5 draft. He left a possibly average hitter who may be able to play Catcher in a pinch, a high strikeout power/speed OF coming off two leg injuries, and a hopefully decent hitting/no defensive value 1B exposed.

Losing Sabol, Gorski, or Nunez won’t change the trajectory or the timeline of the rebuild in any significant manner.


Well said


While this is true, I think there’s a conversation to be had over resource management. Is it worth leaving Nunez exposed to keep a spot open? With his age and position, probably. As for Sabol, not that it matters much, I think that protecting a guy with the positional flexibility, especially at a position where for the time being we’re razor thin in the majors, is likely a better use of a 40 man spot than a musical chair for waiver claim relievers. Again though, it doesn’t actually matter much, just something to talk about when there isn’t anything else going on.


i really really dont feel like saying that the pirates should take someone, but if they do, he should totally be Andres Chaparro from NYY.

Anyone with a sub see if he’s on any of those BA lists?

Also, the fact that the Nats just gave MLB deals to Stone G and Jeimer legitimately improve the chances that Nunez goes un-stolen by like 10 percent.


He’s there

Also, this guy should be a target for the Bucs


They gave away Glasnow,Meadows and Baz so this isn’t that big a deal.


For a short pitcher.


We protect two guys, as mentioned below, in both Ali and Vilade over Nunez, Gorski and Sabol (in order of my preference to keep). Both Vilade and Sanchez, or guys just like them, can be picked up down the road. I just don’t understanding protecting them, I guess.


Really makes no difference really If they protected one of those 3 instead of Sanchez for instance. When then they sign the veteran catcher to fill the spot, they potentially have to DFA the one they protected anyway and still risk losing them to a waiver claim with no chance of the claiming team offering them back later like rule 5. There are gonna be at least 4 of the current 40/(41 a the moment) going to be cut anyway when they make a trade or sign a couple more FA. Pretty much said this below earlier. I am not really that upset.

Last edited 1 month ago by robertkasperski

Losing Sabol doesn’t upset me. But, if I read your comment correctly, you mentioned is signing a vet catcher and losing Ali anyway? WHO CARES if we lose Ali or even Vilade? As for those four, why not DFA them now, BEFORE the Rule V draft. Again, WHO CARES if they get snatched up. This way, we don’t risk losing Gorski or Nunez (albeit a low risk).

I just don’t understand Benny’s roster management most of the time.


Because you are effectively taking up another three roster spots for guys you have no intention on playing at the MLB level in 2023. If you have 20 position players on the 40, you’ve just allocated 15% of your roster to guys that aren’t likely to help your big club in 2023.

It just doesn’t make much sense to protect guys that 1) aren’t likely to help your big league club that year, and/or 2) aren’t a top prospect and integral part of your future.

Last edited 1 month ago by Anthony

Actually my point being is if they protected those 3 guys and DFD three other guys, they still would have to DFA players as they continue to build the ML roster anyway. I am guessing at least 4 moves are yet to be made adding to the roster. Would still risk losing the prospects as they would have to DFA some to make the additions. If someone takes one of the 3 in the Rule 5, the Bucs can get them back from the original team a little easier. If we DFA and the get clamed then if the claiming team does not want to carry them, they do not have to offer them back to the Bucs first.


Yeah, that’s a lot of “dead space” on your roster for guys that are not projected to help your big league roster the following year.

Last edited 1 month ago by Anthony

This is a great point. Assuming BC is serious about adding more FAs, 2-3 more players will hit waivers or be designated. Maybe Sabol and Nunez are higher risk of being claimed than drafted in the rule five. The ability to option is more appealing for an acquiring team.


And my point was that we have plenty of DFA candidates even after DFA’ing those three. We’ve shown how easy it is to replace crap with new crap down the road. 🙂 🙂


In your scenario, you’ve just turned the 40-man into a 37-man. That’s a pretty big concession for three guys with aren’t top prospects and have no immediate future on the big league team.


I will cry if we lose anyone. Well not really cry but be upset. The rule 5 draft was created to give players a chance to move to another organization where they can have a chance to play. So it is not all bad.


Ah yes what was missing from Pirate offseason fun was more angst.


Sometimes the angst is the only thing that gives meaning to being a Pirate fan.

Scam likely

Shame on Ben, you have one of the all time worst offenses in team history and you have 3 position players in the top 15 in the rule 5 draft and as right now you have 41 man forty roster.


As the donkey said in Shrek, “Maybe it’s a perk”


I don’t understand. Why does building a farm system with lots of good prospects lead to outrage?


I would argue there is also a small element of asset mis management or non-maximizing of assets on the margin.


What assets were mismanaged?


We targeted Malcom Nunez in a trade just a few months back. We could have focused on someone else there or turned around to trade Nunez for something else.

We have Ryan Vilade on our 40man roster instead of Gorski or Sabol.

Is this overly material? No, its on the margin, But let me turn it around to you, what assets have been maximized from where we ultimately got to with roster?


The irony here is that Nunez’s value takes an immediate hit the minute you add him to the 40; that is asset mismanagement. Teams aren’t trying to acquire marginal prospects that aren’t ready for the show, have limited defensive flexibility, and take up a 40-man roster spot. How many of your roughly 20 position players do you want to be 1Bs? Do you really think it’s reasonable to have 15% of your roster only capable of playing 1B?


I’m arguing a little for the sake of argument now as I said it was on the margin and not overly material, but a bit funny how you focus only on the 1b and you ignore the a guy who is a plus defensive CF who the pre 2022 book on him was that he just never hit and then he proceeds to have documented swing change and then puts up .956 OPS across A+/AA

Admit it, if Matt Gorksi played for the another mlb club we would target him in any trade talks thinking there was something there like we did with any of the Yankees guys we got. I hope we keep these guys next week during the draft, I just anticipate we will lose a guy or 2 is all. Hope I’m wrong.


I’m not ignoring Gorski; he’s just irrelevant right now. Again, this is another guy who would take a hit in value if he were on a 40-man.

He floundered in A+ in his age-appropriate year, then repeating the level this time almost two-years older than league average age had a “breakout” year as a 24 year old. His numbers were impressive but also need to be viewed in context; age, home park, k-rate, babip, injuries, etc.. There is absolutely no way he spends an entire season on an MLB roster.


Up until the point of actually having a player taken and kept they’re literally maximizing the amount of talent in the org with this exact strategy they’re using.

Yunz are making a hypothetical argument as if it has already happened.


Dangerous to speak for someone else, but I think Scam might have in mind that those three were left exposed while apparent roster junk like Vilade and Ali Sanchez, not to mention half a dozen pitchers who live on the waiver wire who were retained.

It’s a fair point. Certainly debatable. I don’t think there’s rationale for protecting all three, but certainly one of them and possibly two would have been defensible.


Roster junk will be jettisoned when a few more players are added via trade and FA anyway. If they jettison the junk now, they still risk some of the protectees because some will need to be DFAd when the moves would be made for catcher and others.


Like I wrote above, I think the matter is debatable on both sides. I can make a case for keeping one or two of the 3, and at the same time in the aggregate you’re probably looking at low risk overall. Gorski has an ultra-low contact rate and I don’t think would stick through a full MLB season, Nuñez is a DH/1B and unlikely to be selected (but he’s young and CAN hit – would be my vote for most likely to stick if selected), and Sabol is not clearly better than the other OF types already on the 40-man.

But I certainly don’t think the Pirates would have painted themselves in a corner by adding one or more of these dudes. We haven’t even touched the pitching staff.


None of these guys are top prospects and none are expected to contribute this year; it makes absolutely no sense to voluntarily reduce your 40-man to a 37 regardless of the Sanchez’s and Vilade’s. Their time will come when other FAs are signed.


You start painting yourself in a corner when you’re putting guys on the 40 that don’t need to be on the 40.

BC and Co did their risk assessment and I agree with who they added and who they didn’t add.

How many RH 1b/DH only gets selected in this draft? 1%? <1%

MLB teams simply don’t operate like this.

I know you guys want the entire 40 to be nothing but prospects. Again, MLB teams don’t operate like this.

The riff raff of Vilade and Yajure and whoever can be replaced on the 40 but if you add Sabol or Nunez or Gorski, you’re not going to remove them off the 40 for a FA or trade.

You guys are trying to split the atom here and overcomplicate a simple process. The Rule V Draft is a glorified waiver wire claim. There’s nothing here that will move the needle one way or the other.


It boggles my mind that this concept is so misunderstood.


So why keep that roster junk NOW?


That’s completely arbitrary; it doesn’t matter.


Cherington and his delegates get together and project who will get selected in the Rule V draft. They peel back several layers of metrics and decided that Burrows, Endy, Selby and Triolo were the only ones that would get selected. No sense cleaning out spots on the 40 for guys who won’t get selected.

Dudes like Vilade or Sanchez are probably place holders for FA signing, trades and whatnot. If they add players that don’t need to be added, they’ll begin to paint themselves into a corner.

Do you really think someone will not only select Blake Sabol but roster him all season? He’s a player without a position, his k rates are too high, and he doesn’t have the bat to dh.

At the end of the day, as much as I don’t like to give BC credit, he knows the game and his players and the league, much, much more than random know it all’s in internet chat rooms.

PS – you guys are worrying about nothing.


I have no issue with Sabol. Gorski and Nunez over two placeholders is what gets me. Even tho the odds of losing any of them are small, why risk it t all?


Let me put names to the narrative, to see if that helps. (I posted this on a different thread, so for others, please be patient with seeing this a second time). And, with the addition of Santana, some of the scenario below has basically happened.

Let’s say the Pirates are ok with 21 positional and 19 pitchers on the 40-man. Go with these current 18: Cruz, Reynolds, Hayes, Choi, Castro, Suwinski, Andujar, Mitchell, E-Rod, 1st string catcher, 2nd string catcher, Bae, Castillo, Triolo, Peguero, Swaggerty, Marcano, CSN, and that they added Gorski and Sabol, so they would be at 20 positional. Then in February a right handed hitting first basemen falls in their lap, as a free agent, so now they have 21 positional. Then during spring training a rebuilding team wants to trade a good corner outfielder for two of our minor league pitchers (for example Mlodzinski and Nicolas). We can’t pass it up, so we make the trade. Now to put corner outfielder X onto the big league club, we need to move off one of the above 21 from the 40-man. So they put Marcano on waivers to move him off the 40-man. Now any other team can claim Marcano, put him on their 40-man, but keep him in the minors if they want to. So we then lose Marcano on the waiver wire. Then in April/May Gonzales is hitting great, we want to put him on the 40-man and on the big league club, so we have to put someone else on waivers, this time Castillo, and like Marcano, he gets taken.  Basically, for every player we add, we lose one. Now you can argue that losing Marcano/Castillo is better than exposing Sabol and/or Gorski and/or Nunez to the rule 5 draft. But at some point, you have to see how they need to have some roster flexibility entering winter trading season, spring training, and early year performances. This is why right now I think players like Vilade are just placeholders for what they hope will be pickups between now and opening day.


Just speaking for myself but I have troubles ‘walls of words’. I LOVE paragraphs, as did my English Teachers. 🙂 And, I felt that way BEFORE my eye issues.

But, I DO thank you for your efforts. It looks like you put a lot of thought into it. 🙂


Ok, so without saying a catcher, Vilade, or a pitcher, which two players on the 40-man do you want to DFA in order to add two of Sabol, Gorski, or Nunez?


Why can’t I DFA a pitcher? I can think of 3 RPs, which we can find anywhere. And then there’s Thompson and Bryce. Again, two SPs which are easily upgrade from.

Neither Marcano or Castillo are anything special either.

Then, when you add in the aforementioned Sanchez and Vilade, there are plenty of candidates, all easily replaceable.

In other words, would you rather take a chance on losing the promise of Nunez or Gorski over any of these eminently replaceable players?

Last edited 1 month ago by leefieux

you don’t want to dfa pitchers for position players (you will have to later dfa position players when you need pitchers, because you need to carry at least 19 pitchers)

new paragraph. You can’t dfa sanchez, because you will have to dfa someone else when you then need to add a second catcher. Sanchez is a catcher placeholder. Vilade is a placeholder for an outside addition (like Park was). The “wall of words” explains why you need a placeholder and most likely a couple of them.

new paragraph. So yes, by keeping two of Sabol, Gorski, or Nunez away from the rule 5 draft, you are basically giving Marcano and Castillo free to anyone who wants them on waivers. Giving away a 23 year old and a 25 year old who hit well in the minors when you probably did not need to would be bad management.


Love your ‘new paragraph’ lol.

I see what you’re saying, but I still feel that any of those mentioned are easily replaced. And you can ALWAYS trade from your DFAs. See Rays, Tampa Bay. But, I doubt we’d get a thing of value for the names I mentioned.


I agree. Only so many can be protected. There will still be more additions to the 40 man to be made by adding a catcher, starter most likely, another pen arm an possibly another OF or IF player. approx 4 or 5 still the 40/41 man will be moved yet. There is bound to be a few good prospects exposed. Usually only 10-20 get moved league wide so I would not be too worried.

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