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Pirates select LHP Tyler Webb in rule 5 draft

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates made their first Rule 5 draft selection in five years, using the 13th pick on Yankees' left-hander Tyler Webb. The 26-year-old Webb has been mostly a reliever in the minors and probably profiles as a lefty specialist, or would on a team that had a manager who believes in getting the platoon advantage with his relievers.  In parts of three years in AAA, Webb has had a 3.44 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9 and 10.3 K/9.  (The numbers were hurt by a handful of 2016 starts in which he got hammered.)  He throws 90-92 with a slider and change.  He's dominated left-handed hitters the last two years, holding them to an OPS well below .600.  He was among the players Baseball America considered the top possible targets for the draft.

The Pirates currently have four other left-handers slated for the bullpen in Felipe Rivero, Tony Watson, Antonio Bastardo and Wade LeBlanc.  Webb appears to be ready to try the majors now, so he shouldn't need to be hidden in the back of the pen.  The team apparently hopes to trade either Watson or, preferably, Bastardo, but it's possible they'll consider trading both.  It's also possible they'll consider not retaining LeBlanc, who's been a replacement level pitcher throughout his career and has had little success sticking in the majors since 2012.

The Pirates lost nobody in the major league portion of the draft, although Eric Wood was widely considered a possible target.  They selected nobody in the minor league phase, while losing three players.  The Braves took LHP Cesilio Pimentel, the Yankees selected RHP Colten Brewer, and the Red Sox picked LHP Josh Smith.  Pimentel has usually pitched well as a reliever, but has made very slow progress, throwing only two innings so far above low A.  Brewer has missed a lot of time due to injuries, disciplinary issues and a brief retirement since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011.  He throws in the mid-90s but has control issues and hasn't pitched well when he's been on the mound.  Smith has spent the last two seasons in the Altoona bullpen and has put up dreadful numbers.