Bucs pick RHPs Burdi, Milbrath in Rule 5 Draft

December 14th, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Pirates added a pair of high-upside right-handers on the final day of the Winter Meetings, selecting reliever Jordan Milbrath and acquiring rehabbing reliever Nick Burdi shortly after the Rule 5 Draft ended.

Pittsburgh took Milbrath from the Indians' system with the eighth pick in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning. The Bucs then sent $500,000 in international bonus pool money to the Phillies in exchange for Burdi, who was Philadelphia's Rule 5 Draft pick.

Players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on the club's active roster or disabled list for the entire season or placed on outright waivers. If they clear waivers, they are offered back to their original team. Clubs occasionally work out trades that allow Rule 5 picks to remain in the selecting team's organization without staying on the active roster.

:: Rule 5 Draft coverage ::

Burdi, a hard-throwing 24-year-old, is a unique case. The former second-round pick is recovering from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in late May, and he likely won't be ready for a full return until the second half of 2018. He must spend 90 days on the Pirates' active roster between next season and '19 before his Rule 5 restrictions are removed.

"We fully expect that he will not be able to compete to make our club in Spring Training, but we do like the arm, we like the upside and are willing to carry him on the DL for a while if need be," general manager Neal Huntington said. "The challenge is we've just selected an injured pitcher. We know the risk that goes along with that. We're optimistic that, like a good handful of Tommy John surgeries, he'll bounce back from it."

Burdi, drafted 46th overall by the Twins in 2014, owns a career 3.20 ERA with 142 strikeouts in 104 innings over 80 appearances in the Minors. The 6-foot-5 righty, who reached Double-A in 2016 and returned there this year, entered this season as the No. 18 prospect in the Twins' system, according to MLBPipeline.com.

"We'll be patient with him. We need to gather a lot of information as we go through this process with him, but we feel like it's a good arm," Huntington said. "It's a good arm to add that has short-term, moderate-term and potentially long-term value."

Milbrath, 26, is a more traditional Rule 5 Draft pick. The 6-foot-6 right-hander recorded a 3.02 ERA and 1.29 WHIP with 63 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings over 30 appearances between Class A Advanced Lynchburg and Double-A Akron in Cleveland's system.

A 35th-round Draft pick in 2013, Milbrath reportedly changed his arm slot this year and saw his velocity tick up significantly. He also recorded a 4.72 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio, showing the kind of ground-ball tendencies the Pirates frequently seek.

"It's heavy, heavy sink. A very high ground-ball rate," Huntington said. "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."

The Pirates did not lose any of their eligible prospects in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. In the Minor League portion, they selected right-hander from the Angels and catcher Rafelin Lorenzo from the Rays.