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Pirates add Clay Holmes to 40-man roster

The Pirates have announced that they've added right-handed pitcher Clay Holmes to their 40-man roster.  No other additions were made, with today being the deadline for protecting players from the Rule 5 draft.  The roster had one opening, so no corresponding moves were made.

The team drafted Holmes out of high school in the ninth round in 2011, signing him to a record bonus for that round.  He's made uneven progress through the farm system, with injuries playing a big role.  Holmes missed all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery, then threw only 36 innings in 2015.  Despite the fact that he'd pitched only 23 innings above low class A, the Pirates sent him to Altoona this year.  In 136.1 IP, he posted an ERA of 4.22 and WHIP of 1.48, which isn't as weak as it sounds when you consider the long layoff and the lack of experience beyond low A.  He's tended to be a good news/bad news sort of prospect, as he tinkers a lot with his pitch mix and that leads to some marked changes in the results.  This year, for instance, he not only had some very good and very bad stretches, he went from getting hit hard in the first half to not hard at all in the second half, but with a much higher walk rate.  He hasn't generally missed a lot of bats.  Holmes throws in the mid-90s at times.  The rest of his repertoire varies, but in the second half of 2016 he started throwing a slider/cutter, along with a change.

The most prominent players left unprotected were third baseman Eric Wood, outfielder Barrett Barnes and catcher Jin-De Jhang.  All three are probably borderline cases for selection in the Rule 5 draft.

Wood improved across the board in 2016, including his defense, which appears good enough now to allow him to stay at third.  He's just finishing up a very strong stint in the Arizona Fall League.  The oft-injured Barnes put up a huge second half at Altoona after doing nothing to look like a prospect in the first half.  The biggest negatives with him are the fact that he's already 25; he's probably limited to left field as he's lost speed and doesn't throw well; and even in his huge finish in 2016 he struck out in over a quarter of his at-bats.  Jhang offers a left-handed bat with a plus hit tool, and a good arm, but he's probably below average in all other areas and also no doubt gets dinged by scouts for his bad body.  He went unselected in the draft last year and nothing about his profile should have changed this year.