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Pirates protect four players from Rule 5 Draft

Two top prospects and two other contributors added to 40-man roster

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced the addition of four minor leaguers to the 40-man roster Tuesday night, protecting them from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

Catcher/first baseman Endy Rodriguez, infielder/outfielder Jared Triolo, and right-handed pitchers Mike Burrows and Colin Selby.

To make room on the 40-man, catcher Tyler Heineman, left-handed pitcher Manny Banuelos, and right-handed pitchers Jeremy Beasley and Junior Fernandez were designated for assignment. With the subtraction of Bañuelos, the Pirates do not have a left-handed arm on the roster.

Rodriguez become a force at the plate since being traded to the Pirates from the New York Mets in a Jan. 2021 three-team deal also involving San Diego. The Bucs’ No. 6 prospect and No. 97 in the sport, according to MLB Pipeline, sported a .323/.407/.590 slash line between three levels this season.

The Honus Wagner Player of the Year award winner in the Pirates organization hit 39 doubles, 25 home runs, and drove in 95 runs while walking 60 times in 125 games. Rodriguez hit .302 in 88 games for High-A Greensboro, .356 in 31 appearances for the Double-A Altoona Curve, and spent the final week of the year at Triple-A Indianapolis, totaling a home run, 8 RBI, and a 455 average in six games.

Rodriguez was named the 2021 Florida State League MVP and was recently honored as the 2022 South Atlantic League MVP.

The 22-year-old switch hitter is a versatile defender, playing catcher, first base, second base, and in the outfield as well as being slotted in the lineup as the designated hitter. Rodriguez could factor into Pittsburgh’s plans at the Major League level and catch before former No. 1 overall pick Henry Davis is ready, before moving to another defensive position.

Triolo, 24, is best known for his defense at the hot corner. The Pirates’ No. 24 prospect won a 2021 Minor League Gold Glove while playing in Greensboro. The former 2019 Competitive Balance Round B selection slashed .282/.376/.419 in 112 games from the right side of the plate for the Curve along with nine home runs and 39 RBI this year. He took home the Bill Mazeroski Defender of the Year award as the Pirates’ best defensive player in the minors.

Burrows is the highest-rated pitcher who needed protected from being picked by another club. The starter offers a fastball and curveball - both pitches ranking a 60 on MLB Pipeline’s 20-80 scouting scale - while flashing an occasional changeup. He shined in Altoona to a 2.94 ERA in 52 innings, striking out 69 hitters and recording a 1.10 WHIP. Burrows represented the Pirates in the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Los Angeles.

Things changed for Burrows, 23, after being promoted to Indianapolis halfway through the season. He struggled mightily in 12 games, 10 starts, registering a 5.31 ERA, 2.71 opponent average, 1.35 WHIP, and 45 hits allowed spanning 42.1 innings. He limited his walks to 12 compared to 19 in Double-A, not being able to work five innings in all but two starts.

Selby is the most surprising name included as a recent addition on the surface but is becoming a dependable bullpen arm. The 25-year-old righty totaled a 2.20 ERA in 32.2 innings as a member of the Curve including 41 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP. Overall in the organization, Selby outperformed his fellow bullpen teammates.

His fastball can reach the upper 90s and mixes in a strong slider and curveball. Selby may have sealed his spot in the Arizona Fall League, striking out nine hitters in as many innings and allowing two earned runs for the Surprise Saguaros.

Notable players including first baseman Malcolm Nuñez (No. 12), Matt Fraizer (No. 16), Matt Gorski (No. 22), Tahnaj Thomas (No. 28), and catcher Blake Sabol were not added. Nuñez was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals in the Jose Quintana/Chris Stratton deal. The 21-year-old hit 23 homers and drove in 88 runs overall in 119 games, being left available for any team to acquire and hold onto the power bat for the entire 2023 campaign. The 40-man roster remains full.

The Rule 5 Draft will take place on Dec. 7 during the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings in San Diego, California.