Moving on: Pirates select Springfield native Jordan Milbrath in Rule 5 draft

Jordan Milbrath

For Jordan Milbrath, Thursday was all about a new opportunity.

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected the Springfield native from the Cleveland Indians’ organization in the baseball’s Rule 5 draft on Thursday.

Milbrath spent the 2017 season in the Indians’ organization, starting the season at High Class A affiliate Lynchburg before being moved up to AA affiliate Akron. There, he went 3-2 with a 3.90 ERA in 30 innings pitched. He picked up two saves and pitched in 15 games for Akron. He had pitched in the Indians’ organization since 2013, when he was drafted by them in the 35th round of the amateur draft out of Augustana College.

Because Milbrath was selected in the Rule 5 draft, he must be kept on Pittsburgh’s major league 25-man major league roster for the entire season — he may not be optioned or designated to the minors.

The Pirates may, at any time, waive Milbrath and if he clears waivers by not signing with a new MLB team, he must be offered back to the Indians.

The Indians didn’t keep Milbrath on the 40-man roster this past November 20, meaning Milbrath was eligible for the Rule 5 draft. The Pirates selected the side-arm righthander and he was contacted by the Indians shortly after.

“I was just working out this morning and I knew the Rule 5 draft was going on, I heard that I was picked by the Pirates after I got some texts and calls,” he said.

He said he wasn’t completely surprised by being selected and he was happy for the new opportunity.

“Ever since November 20, my agent and I knew it was going to be a possibility,” he said. “I didn’t change anything that I was doing, I still worked out and I was preparing like it was another season.”

He changed his delivery this past season after it was recommended to him that he switch to sidearm. The 26-year old seemed to make the transition rather quickly and he had one of his best seasons yet but wasn’t a part of the 40-man roster for Cleveland.

He put that decision behind him quickly and continued his offseason workouts and he now has a new opportunity in Pittsburgh.

“I owe how good I am to the Indians right now, for all the resources and time that they put into me and help me build my career and help me continue to grow as a baseball player,” he said. “It was more of a business decision when you’re a really good team and competing for World Series’ every year, they’re going to have those extra guys that they’re going to have to make decisions about that are bubble guys. I understood where they were coming from and they understood the risk too.”

Milbrath isn’t sure what the next step is yet but he’s ready to have the chance to pitch at the major league level in 2018.

“I’m really excited, I want to play baseball at the end of the day and the Bucs are a great organization to be a part of, I’m looking forward to it,” he said.