Scouting Who the Pirates Added and Lost in the 2022 MLB Rule 5 Draft

The 2022 MLB Rule 5 draft is in the books, and it was a busy one for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates added one player and lost one player in the MLB phase of the draft. They added left-handed pitcher Jose Hernandez, and lost outfielder/catcher Blake Sabol.

The minor league phase was more eventful, with the Pirates adding two players and losing eleven. John Dreker and I broke down all of the players added and lost below.

Pirates Add LHP Jose Hernandez

We highlighted several left-handed pitching options who were available, noting that this position seemed to make the most sense for the Pirates. Until the agreement to sign Jarlín García, the Pirates didn’t have a left-handed option in the majors. Garcia gives them one option.

They drafted left-handed pitcher Jose Hernandez with the third pick in the Rule 5 draft to give them another.

Hernandez brings a lot of velocity, with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a slider that generates strikeouts. He split the 2022 season between High-A and Double-A, putting up a 3.96 ERA in 38.2 innings in the higher level. He struck out 47, but walked 18, and had issues with the long ball.

The Pirates would need to keep Hernandez on the MLB roster all season in order to keep him in the system. Considering their left-handed pitching situation, he could have a good opportunity to stick around, and in a favorable spot pitching in PNC Park.

But They Lose OF/C Blake Sabol

A few weeks ago, we did a Roundtable to predict who the Pirates could lose in the Rule 5 draft. Three of us predicted that the Pirates could lose Blake Sabol, while three others predicted they wouldn’t lose anyone.

I was one of the people who predicted they wouldn’t lose anyone, while noting that I was very heavily leaning toward Sabol. The Reds ended up drafting him with the 4th pick, one spot after the Pirates. Not long after the draft, they traded him to the Giants for cash considerations and a PTBNL.

In my writeup, I wrote this about Sabol’s chances of getting picked:

“The argument in favor of Sabol is that his bat looks MLB ready right now. He’s got a good approach toward contact, and has been adding power to his game the last two years. There might be a lot of talent available, but any team that wants a cheap, left-handed hitting outfield prospect with the bonus ability to catch can turn to Sabol.”

The Reds seemed like the perfect fit for Sabol, though San Francisco won’t be a bad spot for the lefty slugger who has been tapping into his power more often over the last year.

The exclusion of Sabol was questionable after the Pirates showcased him so much at the end of the year. They promoted him to Indianapolis, where he performed well. Then, they sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where he did struggle, but spent time behind the plate.

My guess is the Pirates thought Sabol, as a bat-first corner guy, wouldn’t get picked. He certainly did enough this year to earn the pick, and he now finds himself in a favorable situation.

He would have to stick in the majors all year, with at least 90 days on the active roster, to be lost for good. In order to return to the Pirates, Sabol would first need to clear waivers. Any team that picks him up or trades for him at this point assumes the same Rule 5 roster requirements.

Almost Three Minor League Picks

On the minor league side, the Pirates had 31 players protected for 38 spots, indicating they could take up to seven players. They ended up taking two, with some confusion on a third.

The first pick was Wei-Chieh Huang, a right-handed pitcher from the Giants system who leads the way with a plus changeup. Huang has pitched briefly in the majors, and spent the 2022 season in Triple-A as a starter. He’s a veteran minor leaguer, entering his age-29 season, and should serve as upper level pitching depth.

With their second pick, the Pirates took Josh Palacios, an outfielder from the Washington Nationals. Palacios is another veteran minor leaguer, playing in his age 27 season next year. He’s had 91 plate appearances in the majors, with a .207/.267/.232 line, a 28.6% strikeout rate, and a 4.4% walk rate. Palacios spent most of the 2022 season in Triple-A, where he hit .298/.382/.433 in 319 plate appearances, while stealing 19 bases.

In both of these cases, the Pirates added older players with MLB experience.

With their third pick, the Pirates tried to take Johan Lopez, a 22-year-old shortstop from the Rays. There was some confusion after that pick, and after a few minutes, the Pirates passed, ending their day selecting players.

That wouldn’t be the end of their day losing players, though.

Pirates Lose Eleven Players in the Minor League Phase

By John Dreker

Two weeks ago, Ethan Hullihen posted an article looking at the potential players protected from the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. While I disagreed with some of the names on that list, the overall feeling from the list of eligible players was that the Pittsburgh Pirates were going to lose some players — even if they protect 38 players, which would have prevented them from making a pick.

The Pirates had just 31 players protected on their Triple-A roster. What happened next was predictable under those circumstances. The Pirates had 11 players taken in the minor league phase of the draft, and they only used two of those seven open spots to make picks. Their minor league pitching depth took a major hit, as nine of the players selected were pitchers. In essence, they lost a good portion of a single minor league pitching staff in one 20-minute stretch of the Winter Meetings.

Here’s a look at the players they lost, with a little about each player:

Joelvis Del Rosario, RHP – I have no idea why he wasn’t protected. Not even a “maybe it’s because…” reason. I watched almost every single one of his home starts this year and he was quite impressive. The 21-year-old had a 3.68 ERA in 93 innings, with 76 strikeouts and a 1.29 WHIP. He had a fastball that sat 94-96 MPH early in games, a low-90s sinker, a mid-high 80s changeup, and a low 80s slider — showing solid control of his four-pitch mix. There’s a good reason why he was the first overall pick.

Joelvis Del Rosario is Starting to Make a Name For Himself

Domingo Gonzalez, RHP – Gonzalez has shown some stuff in the past that makes you think he could reach the majors. His stats this year didn’t impress, until you look at the split. From July 1st on at Greensboro, he had a 2.44 ERA, a .208 BAA and 41 strikeouts in 44.1 innings. He finished up with one run over three innings with Altoona. He just turned 23 years old a month ago. He has solid velocity that gets into the mid-90s and good secondary pitches.

Joe Jacques, LHP – Jacques was injured for part of this season, but he did well when healthy, spending most of the season in Indianapolis. He had a 3.12 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and 35 strikeouts in 43.1 innings. He’s a fringe MLB player, helped out by being a lefty with deception. He will be 28 by Opening Day.

Cristian Charle, RHP – Charle is pitching down in Colombia now, after putting up strong results at 22 years old splitting his season between Single-A Bradenton and High-A Greensboro. It was a bit surprising hearing his name as a player who was available. He had a combined 2.52 ERA in 53.2 innings, with a 1.10 WHIP and 57 strikeouts.

Enmanuel Mejia, RHP – This is another name I didn’t expect to hear available, but it’s not a total shock because he had some rough moments in Altoona this year. He throws mid-90s, with a good breaking ball and occasional control issues. He had a 5.80 ERA in 49.1 innings, with 51 strikeouts and a 1.63 WHIP for Altoona. One late season outing added nearly a full run to his ERA. He’s about to turn 24 years old.

Austin Roberts, RHP – Some people have been very high on Roberts over the years. He had a 4.28 ERA in 48.1 innings with Altoona this season, putting up a 1.47 WHIP and 56 strikeouts. He turned 24 years old mid-season in 2022.

Wilkin Ramos, RHP – He was a high dollar signing who the Pirates acquired from the Oakland A’s for Tanner Anderson. He’s 22 years old now and he pitched for Bradenton, where he had a 3.88 ERA in 51 innings, with 58 strikeouts and a high 1.61 WHIP. There’s upside in his 6’5″ frame, but he’s still a work in progress.

Trey McGough, LHP – McGough had Tommy John surgery mid-season, so he’s going to be out for most of 2023. He was pitching well in 2022 before the injury. He’s more of a finesse/control lefty, who throws strikes and mixes well. He will be 25 years old this upcoming season.

Peter Solomon, RHP – He was on the 40-man roster for a time, and he pitched well in the majors for a brief time in 2021. The 26-year-old struggled in his brief time in Indianapolis in 2022, and didn’t do well in his second run through the Pacific Coast League earlier in the year either. He had no big league time in 2022.

Jared Oliva, OF – Oliva is well known here from his time with the Pirates, but what slipped by a lot of people is that he was one of the Pirates top minor league hitters over the final two months of the 2022 season. He’s been doing well in Mexico too, giving him about a half season of success against Triple-A pitching. His speed/defense tools gives him a chance to return to the majors in a backup role.

Yoyner Fajardo, INF – Fajardo is one of the best pure hitters in the system, as he has hit for average everywhere he goes. He’s a career .291 hitter, with low strikeout numbers and good speed. He plays a lot of positions, but that is more about trying to find a spot for him, rather than versatility. Given a chance to play regularly, there’s a shot at him reaching the majors as a bench player.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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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pittsburghbob69

I would rather Blake Sabol than Hernandez. I would rather Joe Jacques than Hernandez. Don’t even get me started on Joelvis Del Rosario, TreyMcGough, Austin Roberts, Cristian Charle, Domingo Gonzalez, and Peter Solomun.

Joelvis is obviously a good prospect(probably top 50 for most franchises). The reason he was selected 1st overall in the MiLB portion.

McGough will see a MLB field. Probably a 5th/6th starter. He reminds of Paul Malholm or Jeff Locke. He was really good in AAA last season b4 his injury(at age 23).

Austin Roberts ERA dropped from 5.94 to 4.28 the last 2 months of the season. He threw 15 innings, just letting up 1ER and had 17K in the last 2 months of the season.

Domingo Gonazlez has a SP profile and is in his age 23 season in AA. He would’ve been in the AA rotation this season. Probably their 5th starter.

Cristian Charle is just 22 and in HighA. Has a big league FB and a swing and miss secondary(slider or cutter).

Peter Solomon is a big dude, was a highly regarded prospect and also a SP profile. He had a good career at ND and was a 4th round pick. He also had a really good MLB showing in 6 games in 2021 for Houston. He has a good shot to carve out a role as a long inning RP in MLB.

Mejia, Ramos, are ok and probably more of MiLB depth. They both have good stuff but have a lot of trouble throwing strikes. But I’d probably take Mejia, and Ramos over a 29 year old, Wei-Chieh Huang.

And I’m probably taking Oliva over Josh Palacios too. Both are AAAA, MLB 4th OF at best. So both are blah. Really nothing to see.

The only good thing that happened this week for the Pirates was getting the #1 overall pick. Now don’t screw this up; Take Dylan Crews.

Last edited 1 month ago by pittsburghbob69
pittsburghbob69

Btw, I’m happy for Sabol. Happy he gets a shot at the MLB level. Just wish it was in Pittsburgh.

Shultzie31

Sabol- mlb ready bat, of and c. Fortunately we don’t need any of that shit

Last edited 1 month ago by Shultzie31
chuck_conner

We don’t need a MLB ready bat. Did you watch any games last year?

TNBucs

In Mackey’s story about the draft, it sounds like Cherington was caught off guard that they had such an imbalance between the number added and the number they lost. He said they left so many spots open in anticipation of signing minor league free agents and making picks. For whatever reason we haven’t signed many (any?) minor league FAs since opening up the spots and it also makes me wonder if they got flustered when they picked the ineligible player, passed, and then couldn’t draft again after passing. Otherwise, surely they’d have picked some replacements for the players they were losing, wouldn’t they? Cherington doesn’t come right out and say it, but seems to imply that they messed up, and did say that they might need to re-evaluate how they handled this draft.

On the bright side, it creates opportunities for other players.

James_Robert5

From BA

“ Hernandez sits 95-97 mph, touching 100 mph at peak on his four-seam fastball, mixing in a tight mid-80s slider and a changeup. ”

Other good stuff on him as well

1979andCounting

The big question is will Shelton use him or lock him in the closet? After the Oviedo Rule 5 debacle of ’21, I have my doubts. Good test to see if Shelton can adapt and properly handle a Rule 5 the second time around.

capirate

In the minor league phase, is there any scenario where the player would be returned to the Pirates?

John Dreker

The minor league draft has no strings attached. You pay $24,000, you get the player. End of transaction. Usually the players you lose in this phase are afterthoughts, so there wouldn’t be any reason to want them back. I am willing to bet the Pirates would handle this one different if given the chance. I don’t know how they lost players with actual upside. That’s not supposed to happen here. There’s no prize for finishing the day with five open spots on a roster that only exists specifically for this draft

Last edited 1 month ago by John Dreker
James_Robert5

Via a trade?
Resigned after being released / becoming a MILB FA

redwards60

Well at least we didn’t lose Bryce Wilson

James_Robert5

Lots of drama in the minor league phase

Re: Johan Lopez – this might be the issue

https://apnews.com/article/mlb-sports-baseball-tampa-bay-rays-1e3ef352f01b095fe3c7254cc8bbe378

ST1300b

Tim/Wilbur – Of all those lost I liked Charle and Fajardo as future break out types, although Fajardo is one of quite a few utility types – I just liked the bat…

My question though is actually more about Huang. Is there anything that pops about him – kinda similar to the Domingo Gonzalez info above??

Wilbur Miller

I think they wanted AAA starting depth. His big pitch is a change. He was released back in 2020 and didn’t pitch that year or 2021, apparently just for lack of interest, then came back this year, so he was probably pretty under the radar.

PiratePrimate

I’d trade every player we lost in the minor league phase for Josh Palacios.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I just really hope there are moves in the making. I’ll only be pissed if we lost Sabol just to have Marcano hitting 45 MPH dribblers still. Even if we assume Sabol will come back eventually, I do wonder if the skip in development ever plays a part in possibly tripping up a player that maybe could’ve pulled it together under a normal development schedule.

Wabbit_Season

I don’t much get how the whole 180 players thing works. However, if I’m gonna believe the Bucs have one of the top minor league systems right now, then I’m also going to think they’re trimming the rosters for more high upside lower minors acquisition.

In time, this might be a good day to look back on to see if they just effed up or what. Might be a really good interview to have with the appropriate officials in the Bucs hierarchy.

“Whaddya know. Ran outta gas. You know how it is with these A cards.”
-Wabbit

Stapes

So, the minor league guys taken, what are the requirements for them to remain w/the team selecting or return to the Pirates?

Stapes

Hmm, will like to hear their reasoning on essentially throwing these guys away. When is the next Press access to BC?

NoVaBurgher

I would be surprised if the reds carried Sabol on their roster the whole season. I expect we’ll probably see him back at some point

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

They won’t keep him a day. Already flipped him to Giants lol

PiratePrimate

Who will keep him and turn him into a star

robertkasperski

Maybe there is some leftover “clear” an “cream” laying around out by the bay. Barry Sabol may see an even bigger power numbers next season. 😁🤣🤣

PiratePrimate

Not a coincidence we took our chances with a couple players from the Giants. They run a good system and keep churning out winning ball players.

forkball

After reading that we shouldn’t worry about the Rule 5 draft, you now have me worried… At least, thanks for letting me know that we have a better stock of talent in the minors than even management knows.

John Dreker

It really isn’t anything to worry about, but somehow their minor league side just completely dropped the ball. In a big picture, it’s extremely tough to lose value in the Rule 5, and it’s much tougher on the minor league side, but there’s no potential upside. Teams are paying $24,000 to take a player with no strings. An MLB team can’t do anything with $24,000, that doesn’t even cover per diems for everyone on an 8+ day road trip. It barely covers an average Triple-A salary for someone without MLB experience/or a 40-man roster spot. You definitely can’t get a player like Joelvis Del Rosario for $24,000.

The big league side is nothing more than a trade. Think of it that way, Pirates acquired Hernandez for Sabol. Neither has much of a chance at big league success, making it a fairly even trade right now

Wilbur Miller

BC’s odd comments about it pretty clearly implied that they simply screwed up. If you just don’t think these guys serve any purpose at all, why pay even the minimal costs to develop them up to class A or AA? Why field four affiliates at all? Just cut out one or two of them. No, these guys aren’t top prospects, but you’ve gone to this much trouble for them already, you have four full season rosters to fill, and there’s zero downside to using all those empty AAA roster spots. Apart from baseball-talent considerations, it’s just really sloppy management.

Aurorus

There is and was no excuse for losing these MiLB players. It was pure incompetence, and the front office admitted as much. It is a continual problem for the organization that the only qualification to be Pirates GM is the ability to come in under budget on expenses. The ability of their GM to manage rosters and other such routine duties do not matter to the ownership group. This is now 2 of the last 3 Pirates GMs who have had the system raided in the rule 5 draft… yet we keep hearing how it doesn’t matter.

Cobra

So by protecting 31 and selecting only 2, did they simply bungle this by leaving all those guys unprotected ? Was this incompetence?

battlingbucs

It doesn’t change your point but I’m assuming they actually protected 32. Sabol was likely on the AAA list originally.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

They may just be clearing out some playing time for other players here and also possible prospects to be received in a Reynolds deal. They should have a lot of guys to move up from complex league. Oliva’s a AAA 40fv, Roberts a AA 40, Sabol a AAA 35+ and McGough the same. The rest of the guys didn’t make our top 63 according to FG.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Maybe almost a favor to these guys then. They clearly worked hard and many blocked from opportunities so up and out.

Last edited 1 month ago by RaisetheJollyRancherGirl
Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I cried scratching him off my list

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Their rating on him is almost a year old now given I doubt he got much attention in the mid year update, sure. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he ended up either coming back or netting compensation via trade later this year, though.

forkball

Who was given that responsibility? It certainly doesn’t make BC’s judgment look that good.

Aurorus

Apart from being unprepared for the draft, trying to draft an ineligible player, passing on their picks, and leaving half the single A team unprotected, the bungling of this draft by the Pirates demonstrates a gross disparity in how the Pirates evaluate players and how at least 7 other organizations do. The Pirates thought none of these players were worthy enough prospects to merit AAA protection, yet 7 other organizations saw it differently.

Ethan Hullihen

If they pick 7 players, this largely is all moot.
The fact that they were so unprepared as to pick someone who was ineligible, then to not have the wherewithal to simply go to the next guy, instead leaving 5 spots on a list that disappears today is the bigger issue.
They were going to lose someone. The fact it was so spectacular was the problem.

1979andCounting

Did they pass or were they essentially DQed from more picks because of the suspension blunder?

battlingbucs

He was ineligible? I thought he was eligible but they didn’t know he was on the restricted list and then when finding out opted to not choose him.

Ethan Hullihen

I was assuming he was ineligible because wouldn’t they have let them take him otherwise?
This I don’t know for sure, I didn’t even realize it happened while I was listening

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