With the Rule 5 Draft coming up December 6, Tuesday was the deadline for teams to protect minor league players eligible to be selected by other teams.
With that in mind, the Pittsburgh Pirates added their 2009 first-round draft pick, catcher Tony Sanchez and four others to their 40-man roster, which now stands at 39.
Sanchez was joined by fellow catcher Ramon Cabrera and right-handed pitchers Vic Black, Phil Irwin and Hunter Strickland. All five players were eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time.
Sanchez’s addition to the 40-man will have many speculating that he will make the 25-man roster out of camp, especially since the Pirates need a catcher badly and prior to Tuesday only had Michael McKenry on the 40-man.
However, Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington wouldn’t go that far, although he did tell the Post-Gazette’s Michael Sanserino that Sanchez has made strides both offensively and defensively, but it was more of a case of protecting their catchers since the industry is thin overall at the position.
Protecting Strickland was a bit shocking, not only because he missed the entire 2011 season, only making 23 appearances past Class A, but not protecting Kyle Kaminska, who came over in the Gaby Sanchez trade and showed promise was a bit shocking. That’s especially true given Kaminska’s performance in the AFL.
There are still plenty of Pirates eligible that could be selected by a team in the Rule 5 Draft, but they would have to stay on the selecting team’s major league roster all season, which is doubtful the Bucs lose anyone.
But there is a strong possibility that they will continue their trend and select someone, which will tie up a bench or bullpen spot all season.