Rule 5 options

I’m trying to get stuff together before I head home for Thanksgiving (and Gobble Wobble 2010!), but I’ve noticed that both Tim at Pirates Prospects and Vlad at Bucs Dugout have put together lists of players available in this year’s Rule 5 draft, and they’re both worth checking out (make sure to note Tim’s update that Tim Collins isn’t available; if he were, he’d practically be a no-brainer for the Pirates). 

As both of them note, Adam Miller is probably the most interesting name on the list. Once upon a time, he was one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball in the Indians’ system, but his career has been derailed by a very serious finger injury that’s necessitated a bunch of surgeries and left his career in serious jeopardy. He supposedly threw well in the fall instructional league this year, though he hasn’t pitched in the minors since 2008 and there’s just not any way the Pirates can know how healthy he is without getting him into the organization and watching him pitch.

I’m sort of of two minds here; part of me says that it’d be worth it to bring Miller in via the Rule 5, watch him in mini-camp and Bradenton, and see what he’s capable of. It’s not often that talented guys like him end up being unprotected and this is the sort of gamble that could pay off quite well for the Pirates. It wouldn’t cost them much either, as they still have some fat to trim from the 40-man if they want and they could just send him right back to Cleveland if he’s not healthy or unable to pitch well. On the other hand, there are still a few pretty talented guys that would be surer bets (Pedro Beato comes to mind, though that’s admittedly because he’s a former first round pick and I’ve heard of him; Tim and Vlad know much more about these guys than I do) in terms of health and the Pirates obviously need as much help as they can get, just about anywhere they can get it.

Huntington’s made a Rule 5 pick every year he’s been GM and so I think he’ll probably make another one this year. So far, one of his picks was fairly predictable (Donnie Veal) and the other two were a bit more surprising (Evan Meek because there wasn’t much there to indicate he was worth a pick, John Raynor because he was a different pick than Veal or Meek). For the purpose of trying to divine his intent this winter; it sure seems to me that Miller is the sort of player he’s been interested in in the past, and I’d say that even if he weren’t coming from the Indians’ system. Any Rule 5 pick is going to be a measured risk, so the question here is whether the risk with Miller is just too great. 

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.