Rule 5 Draft Recap: Pirates Take Two Big Arms in Major League Portion of the Draft

Below you’ll find all of the fun described in our Live Discussion from today’s festivities, referred to as the MLB Rule 5 draft. This is a recap of the day, providing you a cleaner look at what went on today.

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected two right-handed pitchers in the Major League portion of the draft. They took Jose Soriano with the first overall pick, followed by a second pick via the New York Mets selection of Luis Oviedo. The Pirates purchased Oviedo from the Mets shortly after the pick was made in a deal that was almost certainly worked out ahead of time.

Soriano is recovering from Tommy John surgery, which he had back in February. Under normal progression with no setbacks, he could probably be ready shortly after Opening Day. However, as a Rule 5 pick with no experience over Low-A and some major control issues, you can expect him to see the full 60-day rehab assignment that MLB allows for players returning from TJ surgery. He’s probably going to pitch some in Extended Spring Training as well, to the point that his 60-day rehab would end (non-coincidentally) exactly 60 days before September 1st, allowing him to complete the minimum required amount of time on the active roster (90 days, 60 before September 1st).  Soriano throws hard, hitting 100 MPH as a starter. He has a low-80s curve that gets good spin and an improving changeup. He doesn’t throw enough strikes and his walk rate in 2019 in Low-A was higher than his career mark. Basically, you can see why the Los Angeles Angels didn’t protect him and why the Pirates would take a long look at him.

Oviedo was taken after Soriano, but he could be better. His control is better, he has four pitches and strong velocity (up to 98 MPH), and he isn’t injured. He’s also got a 6’4″ frame that is still filling out. He’s just 21 years old and he’s currently pitching winter ball in Venezuela (0.00 ERA in 5.1 IP), so the Pirates likely got some recent looks at him through their Venezuelan scouts. He was ranked #18 by Baseball America in the Cleveland Indians system, which is much better than the Angels.

On the minor league side, the Pirates took two finesse right-handed pitchers with control and upper level success in 26-year-old Shea Spitzbarth and 25-year-old Jeffrey Passantino. Both could make it as middle relievers, though anything higher is unlikely. The Pirates also took infielder Claudio Finol, who is just 20 years old, but he hasn’t hit above short-season ball. He seems to be a contact hitter with defensive skills, but limited offensive skills, with no power or speed value.

The Pirates lost right-handed pitcher Samuel Reyes, which was a bit surprising that he wasn’t protected on the minor league side. Reyes has a strong breaking ball that gets great results. He also throws enough strikes, can get his fastball up to 96 MPH and he has a nice changeup. His upside was middle relief, much like the two pitchers they acquired, but he has much better velocity, without the upper level success.

Overall it was a good day for the Pirates, adding two high upside arms without losing a top prospect.

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The MLB Rule 5 draft begins today at noon and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the first overall pick. They also currently have two open roster spots on their 40-man roster, so it’s possible that we see two picks today. This article is going to have live updates with the results from the Rule 5 draft posted as they come in, along with a recap of the day a little later.

Here are the preview links that we have posted over the last week or so:

First Pitch: What Will the Pirates Do in the Rule 5 Draft?

Baseball America Adds More Names to Watch in the Rule 5 Draft

Rule 5 Draft Options from Baseball America

Some Unprotected Prospects the Pirates Could Consider Under Rule 5

Some More Rule 5 Possibilities for the Pirates

MLB Pipeline Posts Ten Names to Watch in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft

** Don’t miss our post from this morning for our Prospect Guide, along with sales and gift ideas for the holiday season. Some shipping info in here as well, to make sure everything arrives on time.

UPDATE: The Pirates selected 22-year-old Jose Soriano, a right-handed starting pitcher who has topped out at A-ball. He can hit 100 MPH, spins a curve and throws an improving changeup. He misses bats, but he also misses the strike zone. It’s a big arm with potential, ranked 13th in the Los Angeles Angels system by MLB Pipeline. Baseball America has him 7th for the Angels (not a strong system). He had Tommy John surgery in spring of 2020 and missed the entire season, though he didn’t miss any games obviously, since he would have been in High-A most likely.

Here’s video getting passed around

UPDATE #2: Pirates passed on making a second pick. Somewhat surprising here since they had an open roster spot.

UPDATE #3: Pirates took Shea Spitzbarth with the first pick in the minor league draft. He’s 26 with two partial years of Triple-A experience. More on him shortly.

UPDATE #4: Looks like the Pirates did fill that second 40-man spot after all.

UPDATE #5: Pirates took another minor league player, shortstop Claudio Finol from the Reds system. He’s just 20 years old, with Low-A experience in 2019.

UPDATE #6: Here’s some info on Luis Oviedo. He can hit 98 MPH. He’s 21 years old, 6’4″ frame. Throws four pitches. Ranked #18 for the Indians by Baseball America. There will be a full summary coming up, don’t worry.

UPDATE #7: Pirates lost pitcher Samuel Reyes to the Chicago Cubs. This is a bit surprising that he wasn’t protected on the minor league side. He had three pitches, with nice velocity and the ability to miss bats. Unless something happened to him in 2020 that we didn’t see, he should have been protected here. Reyes doesn’t have huge upside, but he could make the majors as a middle reliever.

UPDATE #8: Pirates keep going with the minor league players, taking Jeffrey Passantino from the Chicago Cubs. He’s a 25-year-old, 5’9″, 225 right-handed pitcher, who made it briefly to Triple-A in 2019. He had 104 strikeouts in 89 innings over three levels in 2019. Pirates passed on making a fourth pick, now we just wait to see if they lose anyone else.

It’s over. A recap will come up soon. Pirates get two MLB picks and three minors. All they lost was Samuel Reyes, who is similar in value to the two pitchers they picked up on the minor league side.

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