The Rule 5 draft is a crapshoot; mainly you have kids that are just awfully hard to hide for a year or one dimensional players. Yah, yah, we know the odd Johan Santana and Jose Bautista are offered up sometimes, but hey - neither one ended up with the team that drafted them in the first place, so caveat emptor.
But the woefully short-on-warm-bodies Buccos have been to the well every year of the Coonnely/Huntington era. Done OK at it, too. Evan Meek ended up a keeper after a brutal beginning. Donnie Veal got through the hard part of hangin' out for a season with some judicious use of DL time, and just when things were looking up, he went and tore up his arm. John Raynor...well, everyone deserves a mulligan, right?
You can pretty much bet the Pirates will take another shot at the Rule 5 brass ring; the current talent base almost demands it. And there are a couple of interesting AA pitchers available with live arms and position players who profile as fourth outfielders or Delwyn Young, neither of which Pittsburgh needs right now.
But there is one player out there who has the pedigree to help the Pirates - Adam Miller. The righty was one of the top prospects in the game before he had four, yep, four gruesome surgeries on his finger in 2009. He missed all of last season because of it, and could possibly start this year on the DL, too.
But from 2005-2008, he was a Top 50 Prospect in Baseball America's eyes. When healthy, Miller throws a mid-90s four-seamer, an upper-80s mph slider, and an average sinker and a changeup. He's been throwing some in the Indian Instructional League, slowly rehabbing over the summer, and hit 93-94 MPH on the radar gun last month.
He's a 6'4" power pitcher, a first round draft pick with two out pitches, just 26 years old, and with top-to-middle rotation potential. And to boot, he's from the Cleveland Indian organization; Huntington knows all about him.
Of course, that's just the upside; the down side is that besides the funky finger, he had elbow problems in 2005 and 2007. He hasn't pitched a game in anger since 2008 and never worked a major league inning. More ominously, the Tribe has given up on him.
But here's what we say: go for the upside. All it costs is $50K and a spot on the 25-man roster. The bullpen now looks like Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek, Chris Resop, Wil Ledezma and Jose Ascanio, maybe Jeff Karstens and Kevin Hart, too. Miller should be able to squeeze in.
If it works, Pittsburgh steals a starting pitcher. If it doesn't, simply send him back to Lake Erie, collect $25K from the Indians, and call up Rudy Owens.