Thursday is the red circle day on the Bucco calendar; that's the day of the Rule 5 draft. And the Pirates of the Coonelly/Huntington era haven't failed to take a player since they've arrived.
The Rule 5 draft usually tilts toward pitching; last year, 14 of the 17 players selected were hurlers. Also, Pittsburgh has had some luck with pitchers, getting Evan Meek and Donnie Veal, and that's where we think they'll stay. Here's a couple of names to watch for:
Potential MLB-ready relievers are available, and we like RHP Zach Simons, 25, (Tigers) and LHP Jeremy Horst, 26, (Reds).
Younger and longer shots with more upside if carried through a season are RHP George Kontos, 25 (Yankees), and the Orioles' 24 year old RHPs Pedro Beato & Wynn Pelzer.
A handful of starters are available, too. Adam Miller, 26, (Indians), Aneury Rodriguez, 22, (Rays), and LHP Douglas Arguello, 26, (Astros) look to be the top arms on the block.
(We'll post reports on these guys over the next three days, preceding the draft)
Pittsburgh may not limit themselves to one of these players; if an arm they like is available on the second go-around, the Pirates have four spots open on the 40-man roster.
And the Bucs may not escape cleanly this year; we've seen reliever Mike Dubee's name mentioned in a couple of pre-draft mock-ups.