I was just reading through the comments on Vlad's excellent post about potential Rule 5 picks, and I got to thinking that one guy the Pirates might actually consider is George Kontos of the Yankees. This isn't a pick I'm necessarily endorsing--I haven't done enough research yet, but the guy I'm most interested in so far is the Rays' Aneury Rodriguez. But I think the Pirates will think hard about Kontos.
You might recall that Kontos was one of two pitchers (the other was Phil Coke) who were rumored to be included in the original Xavier Nady trade, along with Ross Ohlendorf and Jose Tabata. It was widely reported that the Pirates would get those four guys, but then, for reasons that vary depending on who's telling the story, Daniel McCutchen and Jeff Karstens wound up in place of Kontos and Coke.
This is important not only because it suggests that the Pirates are already well aware of Kontos, but because many players acquired by Neal Huntington in minor transactions seem to come from the Yankees and Mariners organizations. (I'm not the first to make this point, although I can't remember who brought it up initially.) After acquiring Tabata, Ohlendorf, No Relation McCutchen and Karstens in the Nady trade, Huntington also picked up pitchers Eric Hacker, Steven Jackson and Anthony Claggett from the Yankees. And after getting Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Brett Lorin, Nate Adcock and Aaron Pribanic from Seattle for Jack Wilson and Ian Snell, the Pirates also plucked Justin Thomas and Chris Jakubauskas from the Mariners organization.
This makes sense, in a way--the Nady/Marte and Wilson/Snell deals were fairly major, so the Pirates probably dedicated a fair amount of time to scouting the Yankees' and Mariners' AA and AAA teams and coming up with lists of guys they liked.
Now there's a Yankees prospect who's been connected to the Bucs before who's available in the Rule 5. The rub is that Kontos went down with Tommy John surgery in late June and may not be ready to pitch until this June or so. For the Rule 5, though, that may actually be a positive. The Pirates can keep him off their active roster until July, after he's rehabbed at AAA for a few weeks, then put him in the big-league bullpen for a couple months at the end of the season to pitch in incredibly low-pressure games. They'd have to keep him on the big-league roster for part of 2011, too, but by then he'd probably be fully ready--Kontos was probably pitching well enough as a minor league starter before being injured to warrant a spot in a big league 'pen. Maybe the injury will prevent the Pirates from considering Kontos, but if they really like him, it might be less of an impediment than you'd think.