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December 13, 2010

Future Shock

Monday Ten-Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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With last week's Rule 5 draft in the books, it's time to figure out who is going to stick; in general, the over/under on players ending up on the 25-man roster of their selected team is somewhere around four, and by the end of the season, that number is at least halved. Per Rule 5 rules, if a player selected does not make his new team's 25-man roster (or is taken off of it during the season), he must be offered back to his original team at the cost of $25,000. Some recent Rule 5 success stories include Johan Santana, Dan Uggla and Josh Hamilton.

These 10 guys below might not end up as stars, but they have a good chance to make an Opening Day roster:

1. Josh Rodriguez, IF

Pirates (from Indians)

The first pick in the draft, Rodriguez's combination of talent and opportunity places him on this list. Caveat: he's only a career .266 hitter in the minors—but he makes up for it with secondary skills rarely found in a middle infielder, as he's averaged roughly 13 home runs and 70 walks per 500 at-bats as a pro. His range is below average for a shortstop, but he can play there in a pinch, as well as two other infield positions and the outfield corners. The Pirates are young next year, and need flexibility like this in terms of personnel. That will help Rodriguez.

2. Aneury Rodriguez, RHP

Astros (from Rays)

The 23-year-old's fastball is a plus pitch at 92-94 mph, and with two average secondary offerings to go with solid control, there is no reason he can't serve as a usable swing-man for Houston. Honorable mention to Houston's second pick, Lance Pendleton of the Yankees, who has less stuff but more polish than Rodriguez. I'd take one of these Houston arms sticking over the whole field. We need to remember figuring out the full composition of the Astros' bullpen is basically a dart-throwing exercise, so someone's going to stick.

3. Elvin Ramirez, RHP

Nationals (from Mets)

His fastball touches 98 mph. In the Dominican winter league, he whiffed 28 in 22 innings and only walked four. If he keeps those kinds of numbers up, he's a lock to make the Nats—and if he doesn't, his velocity might keep him around anyway. He walked 5.5 men per nine innings last season in the minors, so control is a problem for Ramirez.

4. Joe Paterson, LHP

Diamondbacks (from Giants)

Paterson is nasty against lefties; they went 21-for-97 (.216) against him in 2010 with just one home run and 36 strikeouts. His combination of sink and deception means that, even when he is hit, it's rarely in a dangerous way, and while his ceiling is that of a one-sided specialist, he's good enough to learn on the job.

5. Scott Diamond, LHP

Twins (from Braves)

Like Paterson, Diamond is a left-hander who can get ground balls and get lefties out, and like Paterson, that's about the sum of his skills. The Twins have historically valued command and arsenal depth more than most organizations, so Diamond likely looks better in their eyes. The biggest concern heading into spring training is a strikeout rate that dropped significantly (7.9 per nine down to 5.3) following a mid-season promotion to Triple-A as some of his tricks didn't play so well at the upper levels.

6. Patrick Egan, RHP

Brewers (from Orioles)

He's 6-foot-8 with good fastball movement, which is a plus. Another plus is that he has a good sinker and a ground ball ratio of almost 3-to-1 last year. The bad, which is also the reason the Orioles didn't protect him: he has no "out" pitch, and he only strikes out about one guy per every two innings. That's too much contact to survive at the big-league level.

7. Jose Flores, RHP

Mariners (from Indians)

The second overall selection in the Rule 5, Flores struck out 51 batters over 42 innings in 2010, while walking just seven and surrendering just one home run. Those give him the best raw numbers of any pitcher selected. Those, however, were achieved in the Midwest League, and the jump from Low Class A to the majors is so large as to be almost impossible to properly calculate. On his side he has above-average velocity and command, but those traits being enough to stick in the Seattle bullpen seems like a long shot.

8. Brian Broderick, RHP

Nationals (from Cardinals)

The Nats basically have the final three bullpen slots for 2011 up for grabs, and one scout put it best when he said, "If Broderick had any stuff, he'd be a great prospect, because he sure knows how to pitch." Mixing up a deep arsenal while treating walks as if they are a criminal offense, Broderick is a survivor and a battler—and he's so good at his craft that you have to give him an outside shot of survival.

9. Brad Emaus, IF

Mets (from Blue Jays)

With incumbent Luis Castillo delivering misery in two of the last three years, the Mets' second base job is an open competition, so they took a cheap risk by inviting Emaus to the party. Always the type who plays above his tools, Emaus' .298/.395/.495 line a Triple-A impresses initially, but he was taking advantage of a hitters' paradise in Las Vegas as in Pacific Coast League road games he hit just .259/.383/.386. Emaus has a good understanding of the strike zone and gap power, but he's a poor defender and below average runner. That combination only works if you have Uggla's power, and Emaus is far from that.

10. Michael Martinez, IF

Phillies (from Nationals)

On the surface, Martinez looks like a zero-chance player: he's 28 years old, wasn't protected by a last-place team, and now will try to make the roster of a perennial championship contender. In his favor, he's a plus runner with a little bit of pop who played six positions last year, all of them at least at an average level. Incumbent Wilson Valdez is his competition for the multi-positional backup job in Philly, but Martinez has enough skills for a fighting chance.

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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