Bucs use top Rule 5 Draft pick to land infielder
Rodriguez, 25, played multiple positions in Indians' farm system
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Pirates nabbed infielder Josh Rodriguez, who had been left unprotected by Cleveland, with the first selection in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.
Rodriguez will compete to make the Pirates' Opening Day roster as a utility-infield option, general manager Neal Huntington said shortly after the completion of the Draft. It cost the Pirates $50,000 to acquire Rodriguez, who will have to be offered back to the Indians for half that cost if he doesn't remain on Pittsburgh's big league roster all season.
Rodriguez's chances of sticking with Pittsburgh will increase if the Pirates are not able to supplant Ronny Cedeno with another starting shortstop this offseason. If Pittsburgh does upgrade at the position, Cedeno would become the club's primary backup middle infielder and Rodriguez might be squeezed out of a legitimate chance to make the team in Spring Training.
Despite Rodriguez's .947 career Minor League fielding percentage at shortstop, Huntington said the organization believes the 25-year-old will be able to capably fill in at the position in a backup role. Pittsburgh likes Rodriguez's versatility -- he can play second, short, third and the outfield -- and are satisfied with what he offers offensively.
"It's an intriguing combination," Huntington said. "He does a lot of different things well. He just fills a nice need for us right now. We like him as a guy to compete to make our club as a middle-[infield] utility player with upside to potentially become an everyday player."
Last year, Rodriguez batted .293 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs in 86 games with Triple-A Columbus. He also appeared in 21 games at the Double-A level. There, he batted .317.
The addition of Rodriguez puts the Pirates' 40-man roster at 37.
The only player the Pirates lost in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft was right-hander Nathan Adcock, who was taken as the fifth-overall pick by Kansas City. Pittsburgh is still high on Adcock's potential, but gambled that he won't be able to stick on a big league roster all next year when they decided to leave him unprotected.
Adcock, who was acquired from Seattle in the Jack Wilson trade in 2009, went 11-7 and posted a 3.38 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) with high Class A Bradenton (Fla.) this past season. He struck out 113 and walked 38 in 141 1/3 innings.
"He has an average fastball with the ability to get groundballs, and there is a chance that he'll stick," Huntington said. "We knew by not protecting him that there was a pretty good chance of him being selected. We're disappointed to lose him, but we couldn't protect them all."
Pittsburgh also made two selections in the Triple-A portion of the Draft. The Pirates used their top pick to take center fielder Brad Chalk from the Padres' farm system.
Chalk split time at three different Minor League levels last season. After hitting .191 in 26 games at the high Class-A level and .214 in 65 Double-A games, Chalk finished with a .313 average in 27 games with Triple-A Portland.
"He's a former high pick that still showed some tools," Huntington said of Chalk, a second-round choice in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. "We figured he was worth the acquisition cost."
That cost was $12,500, half of which the Pirates will get back if Chalk doesn't stick on Indianapolis' roster next season.
Catcher Travis Scott was also added to the Triple-A roster. The left-handed hitter, who was in the Angels' organization, has some power, but he is seen more as an organizational player who can simply provide depth at the Minor League level.
The Pirates' catching depth had thinned with the recent departures of Erik Kratz and Luke Carlin. In an injury-plagued season, Scott hit .254 in a combined 37 games at high Class A and Double A.
The Pirates did not lose any players in the two Minor League phases of the Rule 5 Draft.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.