Pirates add two arms on the last day of the Winter Meetings
Sinkerballer, flame-thrower Milbroth selected in Rule 5 Draft by Pirates
This morning, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Jordan Milbrath, a big, tall 6-foot-6 right-hander, with the eighth pick in today’s MLB Rule 5 Draft.
Milbrath, 26, split time between High-A and Double-A ball in the Cleveland Indians organization last season.
Finding the zone, for the most part, is Milbrath’s biggest issue heading into the 2018 season.
In 26 2/3 innings at the High-A level, the newest Pirate amassed a BB/9 of 4.73 – eye-popping… in a bad way. However, though still not great, a jump to the Double-A level saw a minor decrease in his walks per nine average to 3.30.
If Milbrath wants to stick with the big club out of Spring Training, his first order of business needs to be honing in on pounding the zone.
He possesses some tools big-league ready, nonetheless.
Milbrath’s repertoire includes weapons, historically, the Pirates management, especially pitching coach Ray Searage, loves bringing in: heavy sinker, high-velocity arm.
“It’s heavy, heavy sink. A very high ground-ball rate,” general manager Neal Huntington told the media after their selection. “We like the slider, and we’re intrigued by what he might become. He will come to camp with a legitimate chance to make our club.”
Paired with an above-average slider, and if located how Searage and company would like, Milbrath and his 98-99 mph sinker have a chance to make some serious noise in the Pirates bullpen.
Hard-thrower Burdi coming to Pittsburgh
No big-name bat or arm left with a Pirates’ “P” on their cap following the 2017 Winter Meetings, but they did add a potentially impactful pitcher who could help down the road, right-hander Nick Burdi.
Off the bat, Burdi went from the Minnesota Twins to the Philadelphia Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft.
After the draft, the Pirates sent the Phillies $500,000 in international slot money in exchange for the 24-year-old right-hander, a second-round pick in 2014.
With a high 90s fastball, topping out at 101 mph in 2017, and a hard sinker, Burdi has closer stuff. This was what the Twins figured when they drafted him in 2014 as a bullpen-only guy.
What’s interesting about Burdi though is that he underwent Tommy John surgery in late-May, and due to his surgery, the righty won’t see the field until June at the earliest. It should also be noted that the Pirates didn’t have access to his medicals — or any other Rule 5-eligible pick — during the draft. So, they’re taking a gamble, despite it being a low risk, high reward scenario.
The good news is that Pittsburgh can carry Burdi on the disabled list until he’s deemed healthy.
Although, since he’s still considered a Rule 5 pick even after being traded, he must spend at least 90 days on the Pirates roster once activated from the DL.
“We’re optimistic that like a good handful of Tommy John surgeries that it will bounce back from it,” Huntington said of Burdi. “We do like the arm. We like the upside, and we’re willing to carry him on the DL for a while if need, and we’ll go through that process with him.”
Before going under the knife with the Twins organization, Burdi pitched well for their Double-A Chattanooga team. Over 17 innings pitched, he posted a 0.53 ERA and 20 strikeouts — only four walks — before elbow problems arose.
Joe Cinello covers Pirates material for Pittsburgh Sports Castle. Connect with him on Facebook (Joey Cinello), Linkedin (Joseph Cinello) and Twitter (@JCinello).