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Pirates' Zack Thornton could be a top Rule 5 Draft prospect

Justin K. Aller

Ben Badler of Baseball America lists Pirates minor-leaguer Zack Thornton as a potential candidate to be the top pick in the Rule 5 Draft.

Pirates reliever Zach Thornton is a strong candidate RT if u were astros what player would u take #1 in the rule 5 draft?

Clearly, it wouldn't be a shock if someone took Thornton -- he spent most of last season in the high minors, and his numbers jump off the page, with 90 strikeouts against just 12 walks in 75.1 innings, plus a good ground ball rate. Thornton also got good results in the Arizona Fall League. He isn't exactly a flamethrower like a lot of Pirates relievers are, but he does throw 92-93 MPH, so he isn't getting his minor-league results with craft alone.

Thornton throws from a low arm angle, and I'm guessing he'd have trouble against lefties in the majors, so he would be limited from a tactical perspective. But he's definitely good enough for a bad team to be interested in him, and polished enough that he should be able to stick on a roster for an entire year.