The deadline for Major League Baseball teams to add players to their 40 man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft is 8 PM Friday, and the Pirates have added a Minor League pitcher to the 40 man roster to protect him.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have added right-handed pitcher Clay Holmes to their 40 man roster. This was done in order to protect him from next month’s Rule 5 Draft. The 23-year old Holmes was the Pirates’ ninth round draft pick in 2011.
This move comes as a perplexing one to me. The reason I do not understand it is that Clay Holmes almost assuredly would not have been selected in the Rule 5 Draft. And even if he would have been, in my opinion, he would not have been a big enough of a loss that he is worth protecting on the 40 man roster.
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At one time Holmes was one of the Pirates’ top pitching prospects. This came before he missed all of 2014 due to Tommy John Surgery. Since then, Holmes has not been the same pitcher.
In 2015 he combined to pitch 36 1/3 innings at Rookie Ball and High-A. In 2016 he pitched for Double-A Altoona. Holmes pitched 136 1/3 innings for the Curve. In these 136 1.3 innings pitched he averaged 6.67 K/9, 0.66 HR/9, and he owned a 1.48 WHIP.
The big issue with Holmes in 2016 was his control. He averaged 4.22 BB/9, which is simply far too high. This is a big reason he finished the season with a 4.22 ERA and a 4.55 FIP.
While Holmes still possesses a strong fastball (94-96mph), he is a good ways away from the Major Leagues. He struggled in his first full season at Double-A last year, and should start the season there again in 2017. However, it is possible the Pirates view him as a potential bullpen option for 2017. That is, if he pitches out of the bullpen for Altoona and/or Indianapolis instead of their rotation.
As I said above, I did not see a need to add Holmes to the 40 man roster. For a variety of reasons, I do not believe any team would have selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. Due to this, I believe his spot on the 40 man roster could be better used on someone else.