The last day of the winter meetings always starts with a flurry of activity because of the Rule 5 draft, and today's no exception for the Pirates. With the first pick in the draft they grabbed Indians' infielder Josh Rodriguez. Rodriguez hit pretty well last year between Double-A and Triple-A, but last year was his third go-round at the Double-A level and he's almost 26. Jen Langosch expects him to fill the backup infielder role should he make the club and Ronny Cedeno start the season as the Pirates' starting shortstop. That makes sense; I kind of anticipated him in a Delwyn Young type role; he's played a bunch of positions and there's an outside shot he might hit a little. I wouldn't expect more out of him than that, but it's worth giving someone else a shot rather than just handing Pedro Ciriaco a roster spot.
The Bucs also lost Nathan Adcock to the Royals with the fifth pick of the draft. I thought the Pirates might try and protect Adcock since he had a pretty good season in Brandenton last year, but he's also 22 and spent four straight years hovering around Single-A/High-A ball and only really saw success at High-A when he moved to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. He's not not a prospect, if you follow me (he's also not a really good pitching prospect, either), but he's not someone I'd want on a Major League roster at all in 2011. I'd be kind of surprised if he sticks with the Royals and I'm guessing the Pirates feel the same way, which is why he was unprotected.
Finally, the Zach Duke trade was contingent upon the Rule 5 draft and the team announced this morning that they'd acquired Cesar Valdez from the D'Backs to complete the trade. Diamondbacks' blog AZ Snakepit wrote this about Valdez after the 2010 season:
What do you get when you mix a pitcher whose stuff profiles best in relief with a pitcher who looks completely uncomfortable when put into the bullpen for the first time? You get Cesar Valdez, a prospect who looked a lot more illustrious last year, coming off of injury, than he does now, since he is now coming off of an absolutely miserable season.
Their report on him is that he's got a sinker that would be pretty effective if he could ramp it up into the 90+mph range because it would make his changeup more effective, but that it's just not there as a starter. His strikeout and walk numbers were pretty good before he got to Triple-A, so he might be a useful bullpen arm if the Pirates can get him straightened out. I wouldn't expect him to be more than that, but then a useful bullpen arm was more than I'd expected to get from the Zach Duke trade.