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Battling Bucs : Who May Be Added To The Roster

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Teams must set their roster in anticipation of the Rule V draft by Thursday next week. There have been some excellent previews of whom the Pirates may protect in the upcoming draft, including this one from Pirates Prospects, but I am going to chime in with my two cents on the issue anyway.
The No Doubters: Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, Elias Diaz
The consensus among pretty much everyone is that there are three players the Pirates will undoubtedly add to the roster and I agree with that. Taillon and Kingham are top prospects who are set to begin next season in AAA and who could be helping the club by the middle of next season. The Pirates would be foolish not to protect them. Elias Diaz has garnered quite a following lately thanks to his strong 2014 campaign and the attention the Pirates catcher position has gotten. By all accounts he is a strong defender who just needs his bat to develop a bit before he can become a major league regular. All 3 of these players project to be important players for the 2016 squad and could even contribute this upcoming season.
With those guys out of the way let's take a position by position look at some of the more debatable cases.
Catcher: Aside from the previously mentioned Diaz there isn't a catcher eligible for the Rule V draft who is even worth considering as a possibility to be added or selected.
1st Base: Stetson Allie, Jose Osuna, Justin Howard
As you can see I'm casting a really wide net here. Howard has no chance of being selected or added but he has shown an ability to hit AA pitching at a somewhat reasonable clip so he is at least worth mentioning. His lack of power and true defensive position limits his upside meaning he won't even really be considered. Osuna comes with some upside and is interesting enough that some team may possibly consider him but defensively he is basically limited to 1B (he has played some OF) and he has yet to play above A ball so its hard to imagine a team actually going through with their consideration and therefore the Pirates will not protect him. Allie was eligible for the Rule V draft last year and went unselected. That's no surprise as he only had success in A ball but this year he had decent success in AA so he would seem a much more likely selection candidate. Allie has made great strides in the 2 years since being converted to a full time hitter but there remains faults in his game so he isn't a slam dunk to be taken. Another point to consider is that as a 1B he really can't play many other positions so he becomes difficult to hide on the bench. Still the power is so intriguing the Pirates must give serious thought to adding him to the roster.
Middle Infield: Dan Gamache, Gift Ngoepe, Drew Maggi
I'm combining 2B, 3B and SS altogether because frankly the Pirates don't have a lot of interesting players eligible at these positions. Gamache is another stretch to consider but last year after making it to AA he showed surprising power in limited at bats. If some team thinks the power is for real they could consider him but that seems unlikely to me. He has played primarily 2B but has also played a few games at 3B. The Pirates have given Gamache a good bit of playing time but there is nothing to make me think they consider him a legitimate prospect so he will not be added. The Pirates seemed pretty high on Maggi when they drafted him back in 2010 but by the end of 2012 the Pirates were using him as a utility player. Still Maggi hit quite well last year in AA and considering he can play multiple positions (including SS) it isn't at all unreasonable to think there is a slight chance he'd be selected. In Sellers and Elmore the Pirates have already added upper level utility infielders so I doubt they will add another one in Maggi. Ngoepe is the most interesting of three. He was eligible for the draft last year but went unselected due to showing nothing with the bat but this past season he showed some progress in AA so it is possible he may be selected. Ngoepe is an all glove SS who's upside appears to be basically Clint Barmes but players like this are a popular Rule V selection due to the scarcity of quality bench infielders. He has shown some power and due to his unique background is still raw enough that his offense could develop. Ngoepe at least would make for a more interesting mid season call up than Michael Martinez so the Pirates will have to consider it.
Outfield: Keon Broxton, Mel Rojas, Willy Garcia
These three players essentially formed the AA OF for a good part of this past season. Broxton and Rojas have both been eligible for the Rule V draft before but went unselected however both are now coming off good season in AA which could change the equation. Broxton was acquired for cash in a forgettable deal last Spring Training and surprised by both hitting well and showing a good ability to play CF. He also showed some good power belting 15 home runs on the year. The power and ability to play a good CF makes him a possible pick by someone looking for a cheap 4th OF. Two things prevent Broxton from being a definite add, his age as he will be 25 early next year and has yet to reach AAA and the fact that last season is his only strong season with the bat. Rojas is another interesting player as he is the type of just does everything well, not great but well. He can play CF respectably but isn't great at it and he has some power but not what you typically want from a corner OF. His strike out rate isn't bad but isn't anything special for a guy with his kind of power. All and all he is just an all around solid player with no stand out tools and this makes him suited to be a 4th OF. Ordinarily he would seem like a relatively safe bet to be added but the way the Pirates have used him makes many question what they see him as. Garcia is probably one of the most plarizing players I'm going to mention. He has plus power, a great arm and is very young for having a AA season under his belt (played this past season at 21) however he has shown basically no strike zone judgment walking rarely and striking out just a bit less than a third of the time. He has the most potential of this trio but would also likely be the hardest to hide. I think the Pirates add at least one of these guys to the roster.
Pitchers: Andy Oliver, AJ Morris, Yhonathan Barrios, Ryan Beckman, Zack Dodson, Jeff Inman, Dovydas Neverauskas, Tyler Waldron, Orlando Castro, Jason Creasy, Ryan Hafner
Don't be fooled by the long list of names. Most of the players listed are just there because of the big net I casted. I'll go over some of the borderline lines quite quickly. Ryan Beckman was a prospect I had as a sleeper back in 2012 but he suffered an injury early in the year and had to get TJ surgery. Since his return he has done ok but hasn't really stood out. Dodson is the last remaining hope for the '09 prep pitcher class the Pirates filled up on and things aren't looking good. He has stuck around because he has plus stuff for a left hander but the results aren't there. He will likely have a hard time getting a rotation spot this year so maybe he'll have better luck as a releiver. Inman has a great arm and could make for a potential back of the bullpen guy but he simply can't stay healthy long enough to show anything. His performance has been mediocre but is playing time so spotty thanks to injuries that it is impossible to get a read on him. Hafner has had a crazy ride, going from an interesting prospect after his first full seaosn in 2011, to a train wreck in 2012, to a sleeper prospect after a strong 2013 and now to a forgotten man after a poor 2014. Dovydas Neverauskas is a pitcher who probably even shouldn't be listed here. His arm is intriguing but there is just not much there to back it up then again it is difficult to know just how he is supposed to develop seeing as he was signed as a 16 year old out of Lithuania. The Pirates won't add him but he is worth following. Hafner has a good arm and at times looks like a potential major leaue releif pitcher but at other times he simply has no command. None of these guys will be added to the roster, selected or even majorly considered.
The Pirates just traded a very volitale lefty relief pitcher in Justin Wilson, well they have another one even more volitale waiting in Andy Oliver. Oliver has a great arm and strikes out a lot of batters but unfortunately he also walks a lot of batters. Oliver was nearly unhittable this year in AAA but he walked more than a sixth of the batters he faced. The Pirates could add him if they think his control will straighten out but don't expect that to happen. The Pirates have always seemed to like Waldron but before this year there wasvery little results wise to back that up. He showed significant progress this year being dominate in A+ and then pitching well in AAA before an injury ended his season. I don't see him as a big risk to be selected but the Pirates have always seemed to like him so it wouldn't be a complete shock if the Pirates added him. Castro or as I like to call him Mr Command is a small lefty who has displayed incredible command of all his pitches. Under the previous GM the Pirates had a fascination for small left handed pitchers with good command and good breaking pitchers, these guys would typically dominate until they got to about AA and then there stuff just simply wasn't good enough. Castro has a bit better stuff than those guys as he can get his fastball to around 90 as opposed to the mid 80s but he too expeirenced a rough start at AA. An injury ended his seasoin after only two starts at the level so nothing conclusive can be said but given past history it seems unlikely the Pirates will add him.
All of this leaves three pitchers and these are the guys who I beleive are the most likely of this group to be added. AJ Morris was added this past offseason in the minor league Rule V draft and went on to have a great season in A+, AA and even had a decent showing in AAA before subcumming to injury. Essentially Morris looks like a similar pitcher to Cumpton and Sadler. The Pirates like these type of guys but with two of them already occupying spots on the 40 man roster and their upside being so low its going to be tough for Morris to get a spot. Barrios is probably the ultimate what the hell do we do this guy on this list. Originally signed as SS, Barrios moved to the mound part way to 2013 after he failed as a hitter. This isn't uncommon and usually comes with very little fan fare but Barrios made himself stand out by consistently hitting 98 mph on the radar gun and touching 100 mph at times. Arms like this don't grow on trees. Barrios held his own in A and A+ last year despite it being his first year pitching though his strike out numbers were low for a guy with his stuff. The arm is so tantalizing but it he is so raw and new to pitching its tough to say whether he'd be ready to contribute to the majors in just 3 years. With Cole, Bell, Glasnow and even Clay Holmes, Jason Creasy is kind of a forgotten memeber of the 2011 draft class. Creasy is a durable pitcher with good command and average stuff. He had a solid unspectacular 2014 in A+ and leaves the Pirates with a tough decision on whether to add him to the roster or not.
Review
Definite Adds:
Jameson Taillon, Nicholas Kingham, Elias Diaz
Possible Adds: Stetson Allie, Gift Ngoepe, Willy Garcia, Mel Rojas, Keon Broxton, Jason Creasy, Yhonathan Barrios, AJ Morris
Long Shot Adds: Dan Gamache, Jose Osuna, Andy Oliver, Tyler Waldron, Orlando Castro
I'm not really certain what the Pirates will do here but I'm thinking they are going to be aggressive with their roster additions. I'm expecting six additions, the first three are obvious but the last three less so. If I had to guess I would say the other 3 will be Allie, Garcia and Barrios though I hope they consider adding Rojas.
If the Pirates do add 6 players, with only 3 open spots on the 40 man roster 3 guys would have to go. This shouldn't be an issue as I expect Guilmet, Roe, A Sanchez, Scahill, Cabrera, Decker and Moreal to all be removed from the roster at some point. It also seems likely one of Davis/Alvarez will go and I wouldn't be shocked to see one of Elmore/Sellers tried to be passed through waivers.

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