The five additions set the Bucs' roster at 39.
First-time eligibles for the Rule 5 Draft, and thus requiring protection, were 2008 draftees out of high school and 2009 draftees from college.
Major League Baseball's deadline to protect players was Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. ET. Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five years or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process
. Players signed at 19 years old are to be protected within four years.
Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, to be held on Dec. 6 at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings in Nashville. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
Until the moves with Sanchez and Cabrera, Michael McKenry had been the lone catcher on the Pirates' roster. Neither figures to play a major role in 2013, but the promotions at least ensure that both will be in Major League Spring Training camp, with a chance to play themselves into the club's near-future.
Sanchez, ranked by MLB.com as the Pirates' No. 14 overall prospect
, got his career, and his reputation, back on track in 2012 following two seasons of general regression, since he'd hit .310 for Class A Bradenton in 2010. He split the season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a combined .251 but more significantly earning praise with his developing maturity in working with pitchers.
Cabrera, a 23-year-old Venezuelan and the club's No. 2 catching prospect, made the midseason All-Star team of the Eastern League while hitting .276 with Altoona. He was the 2011 Florida State League batting champ, batting .343 in 92 games with Bradenton.
Black, another midseason Eastern League All-Star and ranked No. 15 by MLB.com, held opposing hitters to a league-low .189 average while fanning 85 in 60 innings with the Curve.
Irwin earned Altoona pitcher-of-the-year accolades after posting a 2.93 ERA in 18 games. Overall, he went 8-7 in 23 games (21 starts) over three Minor League levels, including a 3-0, 2.57 mark with Indianapolis.
Strickland split the 2012 season between Bradenton and Altoona, putting up a composite ERA of 3.70 in 87 2/3 innings. It represented a convincing comeback season for the 24-year-old Georgian, who had missed the entire 2011 season around August surgery for a torn rotator cuff.