Our 40 in 40 series, which looks at every Pittsburgh Pirates member of the 40-man roster, continues with a look at Rule 5 pick Jordan Milbrath.
Milbrath is an interesting guy in spring training as he is a hard-throwing reliever that has strike out potential as the Pirates try and remake their bullpen.
The bad part is that being a Rule 5 pick, Milbrath must stick on the 25-man roster all season or be returned to the Cleveland Indians.
Can Milbrath stick with the Bucs all season and become a valuable asset in their pen?
The 26-year old right-hander was a 35th-round Draft pick in 2013. He changed his arm slot last season and almost throws side arm but saw his velocity increase.
The Minnesota Native played college ball at Augustana University.
Here’s a look at his professional numbers.
Milbrath had a 3.02 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 56.2 frames between High-A and Double-A last season.
His fastball tops out at 99 mph, which was attractive to the Pirates. He averaged 10 strikeouts and four walks per nine innings pitched.
Milbrath recorded a 4.72 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio, which is also always intriguing to the Pirates.
Right-handed hitters hit just .160 off Milbrath last season.
“It’s heavy, heavy sink. A very high ground-ball rate,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington told MLB.com’s Adam Berry after the Rule 5 Draft. “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.”
Power fastballs and high groundball rates always interest the Bucs so Milbrath will be given every opportunity to earn a spot in the Pirates bullpen.
If he doesn’t, it may be worth the Pirates time to consider working out a trade with the Indians to keep Milbrath in the organization.
He has the tools to eventually be a good major-league reliver, but having ever pitched above Double-A, I doubt that this year is the year for that.
My gut reaction is that like last year’s Rule 5 pick Tyler Webb, who had a very good spring training, Milbrath will end up back with the Indians before Opening Day.