December 6, 2012
Rule 5 Recap and Scouting Notes
Every year teams protect their own players from the Rule 5 Draft and search for a diamond in the rough among the unprotected players in other organizations. While there are historical Rule 5 success stories like George Bell, Johan Santana, and Dan Uggla, those occurrences are few and far between. Many players selected in the annual draft have intriguing tools or the overall potential to contribute at the major-league level, most fade into obscurity and are rarely heard from again. This year’s draft, which took place this morning in Nashville and in which 15 players were picked, will likely be no different in that respect, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting storylines to watch as the 2013 season approaches.
Favorite Pick: Josh Fields (RHP, Houston Astros) – Many in the industry were surprised when Fields was not protected by the Red Sox. The 27-year-old right-hander finished the season strong by not allowing a run in 10 appearances with Triple-A Pawtucket and then continued to show well in the Arizona Fall League. His fastball-curveball combination is big-league ready and his command has improved to the point that he can hang with the big boys. He has a setup reliever ceiling and could pitch in that role by the end of the season.
Least Favorite Pick: Chris McGuiness (1B, Cleveland Indians) – It is hard to be critical of the Indians when looking at their first-base situation right now, but I really struggle to understand this pick. McGuiness is a solid hitter with a very good approach at the plate, good doubles power, and average home run pop. If the Indians are looking to him as a possible stopgap in 2013, then he is a nice, cheap alternative. If they have visions of him becoming something more than a stopgap or a flyer, then I think they might be sorely disappointed.
Most Surprising Pick: Starling Peralta (RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks) – Don’t get me wrong, Peralta is an intriguing arm. However, after taking three-plus years to get out of rookie ball and then repeating the Midwest League in 2012, he isn’t exactly the type that has a good chance of sticking under the restrictions of the Rule 5 Draft. Peralta’s fastball-slider combo could work in relief, but it’s a long shot to do so in 2013.
Most Likely to Stick: Ryan Pressly (RHP, Minnesota Twins) – I had extensive exposure to Pressly in 2011 and 2012, and while I liked him as a starter, his move to the bullpen has been a boon for his career. Pressly offers the Twins an arm that could still be a back of the rotation piece or a solid seventh/eighth-inning reliever. In the bullpen, his fastball, cutter, and curveball can all play immediately, and he should have a role on a Twins team that is rebuilding.
Sleeper: Braulio Lara (LHP, Miami Marlins) – Arguably the highest-ceiling player available in this year’s draft, Lara is the type of player that may stick with the Marlins out of sheer stubbornness. With big-time heat from the left side, he is a rare prospect. His ability to throw strikes requires a lot of development, but if you can stash him as the 12th man on a pitching staff for the year, you might just be able to cultivate a valuable pitcher down the line.