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Pirates get pitchers Nick Burdi, Jordan Milbrath in Rule 5 draft

| Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, 9:30 a.m.
Jordan Milbrath with the Akron RubberDucks.
David Monseur
Jordan Milbrath with the Akron RubberDucks.
Jordan Milbrath with the Akron RubberDucks.
David Monseur
Jordan Milbrath with the Akron RubberDucks.
Jordan Milbrath with the Akron RubberDucks.
David Monseur
Jordan Milbrath with the Akron RubberDucks.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Pirates on Thursday traded a chunk of their international slot money to acquire right-hander Nick Burdi via the Rule 5 draft.

The Philadelphia Phillies claimed Burdi from the Minnesota Twins in the major league phase of the draft. The Pirates then gave the Phillies $500,000 in slot money for Burdi.

Burdi, 24, had Tommy John surgery at the end of May and will begin next season on the disabled list.

“We like the arm, we like the upside and we're willing to carry him on the DL for a while,” general manager Neal Huntington said.

A second-round pick in 2014, Burdi has pitched in just 17 games over the past two seasons. In 2015, he made a total of 43 relief outings for High- and Double-A, put up a 3.82 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP, and averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

“We'll be patient with him,” Huntington said. “We feel like it's a good arm to have that has good short-term, moderate-term and potentially long-term value.”

The Pirates also took right-hander Jordan Milbrath from the Cleveland Indians system.

Milbrath, 26, spent last season at High-A and Double-A. In 30 relief outings (56 23 innings) he went a combined 5-3 with a 1.29 WHIP. He averaged 10 strikeouts and four walks per nine innings pitched.

“He made (an arm) slot change last year, and the velocity spiked,” Huntington said. “Heavy sink, very high ground-ball rate. We like the slider, and we're intrigued by what he might become. He will come to camp with a legitimate chance to make our club.”

If Milbrath does not stick on the active roster all season, the Pirates must offer him back to the Indians. Once he comes off the DL, Burdi must serve 90 active days — which can carry over into 2019 — to remain with the Pirates.

The Pirates did not lose any players in the major league portion of the draft.

In the minor league phase, the Pirates selected righty Damien Magnifico from the Los Angeles Angels and catcher Rafelin Lorenzo from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Magnifico, 26, has pitched in four games in the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016 and Angels in 2017. Last season, he pitched for four teams in Double- and Triple-A.

A fifth-round pick in 2012, Magnifico is a four-time minor league all-star. In 193 outings in the minors, he is 29-22 with a 4.07 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. He has averaged 7.4 strikeouts and 4.4 walks per nine innings.

The Pirates considered claiming Magnifico when the Angels put him on waivers last summer.

“He's a guy that we've liked,” Huntington said. “(Throwing) strikes has been a challenge. To be able to acquire an arm like this, we felt was a chance worth taking.”

Lorenzo, 20, hit .250 with a .667 OPS in short-season Class A.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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