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Offseason Update: Rule 5 Draft Results Impact Indianapolis’ 2023 Roster

Many former Indianapolis Indians will continue their careers in other organizations
Endy Rodriguez was added to Pittsburgh's 40-man roster in November. (Photo by Adam Pintar)
January 10, 2023

With MLB Spring Training set to begin when pitchers and catchers report in less than six weeks, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Indianapolis Indians are gearing up for the beginning of their respective seasons at the end of March.

With MLB Spring Training set to begin when pitchers and catchers report in less than six weeks, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Indianapolis Indians are gearing up for the beginning of their respective seasons at the end of March.

Preparations for a successful 2023 season began in November, as the Pirates have continued to improve both the major league roster and that of their Triple-A club through various moves made throughout the winter.

From trades, waiver claims and free-agent signings to the effects of the Rule 5 Draft on the organization, the Indians’ 2023 Opening Day roster is beginning to take shape.

40-Man Roster Additions

On Nov. 15, the Pirates added C Endy Rodriguez, OF Jared Triolo and RHPs Mike Burrows and Colin Selby to their 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. Rodriguez and Burrows are both listed among Pittsburgh’s top 10 prospects in Baseball America’s preseason rankings. Former Indians RHPs Junior Fernandez (Yankees to Blue Jays) and Jeremy Beasley (released) were two of four players designated for assignment in corresponding moves.

Rodriguez, 22, made the jump from High-A Greensboro to Indianapolis over the course of the 2022 season. He was named the South Atlantic League MVP following his campaign and led all Pirates farmhands (MiLB ranking) with a .323 average, .407 on-base percentage, .590 slugging percentage (8th), .997 OPS (5th), 148 hits, 92 runs, 39 doubles (T-6th), 95 RBI, 68 extra-base hits (T-8th) and 270 total bases (T-9th). He enters the 2023 campaign as Pittsburgh’s No. 1 overall prospect.

Burrows, 23, made 12 appearances (10 starts) with Indianapolis in 2022 and earned a spot on the National League team for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in July. He stunned in 12 Double-A starts (4-2, 2.94 ERA [17er/52.0ip], 69 strikeouts) before a mid-June promotion to Indianapolis, where he went 1-4 with a 5.31 ERA (25er/42.1ip) and 42 strikeouts. He checks in as the Pirates’ No. 9 prospect ahead of the 2023 season.

Rule 5 Draft

The offseason shifted into full gear with the annual MLB Winter Meetings in San Diego, Calif., and the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 7. The Pirates selected LHP Jose Hernandez from Los Angeles (NL) as the third pick in the major league phase, a reliever who reached Double-A in 2022 and must be added to their active, 26-man roster to open 2023.

The Pirates’ other two acquisitions from the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft will likely join the Indians roster to begin 2023.

RHP Wei-Chieh Huang, 29, was selected from San Francisco in the first round of the minor league phase. He made his MLB debut in 2019 with Texas and, after two seasons spent away from affiliated baseball, spent the majority of the 2022 season with Triple-A Sacramento. In 23 games (13 starts) last season, he went 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA (35er/71.2ip) and 89 strikeouts. He was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by Arizona in 2014.

OF Josh Palacios, 27, was selected from Washington in the second round of the minor league phase. Since making his MLB debut with Toronto in 2021, he has split time between the majors and Triple-A. In 2022, he spent most of the season with Triple-A Rochester and hit .298 (82-for-275) with an .815 OPS in 76 games. He also appeared in 29 games with the Nationals. Palacios was originally selected by Toronto in the fourth round (132nd overall) of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

On the flip side, the Pirates lost 12 players in the Rule 5 Draft, more than any other organization. Former Indians selected include C/OF Blake Sabol (Reds, traded to Giants) as the No. 4 pick in the MLB phase, and LHP Joe Jacques (Red Sox), RHP Austin Roberts (Marlins), OF Jared Oliva (Angels), LHP Trey McGough (Orioles) and RHP Peter Solomon (Diamondbacks) in the minor league phase.

Trades, Waiver Claims and MLB Signings

The Pirates’ first move in preparation for the 2023 season could have a direct impact on the Triple-A club. On Nov. 9, they claimed OF Ryan Vilade off waivers from Colorado after he spent most of 2022 with Triple-A Albuquerque. The 23-year-old appeared in three games with the Rockies in 2021 and hit .249 (92-for-369) with 24 extra-base hits in 99 Triple-A games last season.

On Nov. 18, the Pirates traded INF Kevin Newman to Cincinnati in exchange for RHP Dauri Moreta. Newman, Indianapolis’ 2017 Team MVP, appeared in 170 games with Indianapolis over parts of four seasons (2017-19, ’22) and hit .301 (205-for-681) with 46 doubles.

There have been several other moves to boost the major league roster and upper-level depth. Throughout the offseason, Pittsburgh has added 1Bs Ji-Man Choi (acquired via trade from Tampa Bay) and Carlos Santana, RHP Vince Velasquez, UTIL Connor Joe (acquired via trade from Colorado), C Austin Hedges and LHPs Jarlin Garcia and Rich Hill. The Pirates also signed C Tyler Heineman, RHPs Tyler Chatwood and Nathan Webb, and LHPs Angel Perdomo, Daniel Zamora and Rob Zastryzny to minor league contracts with MLB Spring Training invites. INF Drew Maggi was re-signed to a minor league deal, too, after Pittsburgh acquired him from Philadelphia for cash in August.

Those additions led to a number of former Indians being traded or claimed by other organizations after being designated for assignment. INF Hoy Park (Red Sox to Braves), UTIL Diego Castillo (Diamondbacks), and RHPs Nick Mears (Rangers to Rockies), Miguel Yajure (Giants) and Bryse Wilson (Brewers) are among those departures.