The Rule 5 draft took place on Thursday morning, bringing an end to what turned out to be a fairly uneventful Winter Meetings with roughly 20 minutes of prospect fury.
Rule 5 draftees are not the high-end prospects we know and love, but they’re not without their merits. The hope for each team that drafts a player is that he has one skill that is good enough to justify a roster spot on a major league club for the entire 2014 season. If not, the player is returned to his original team. Because of this, many clubs elect to pass on selecting a player.
In this year’s Rule 5 draft, only nine players were selected, the fewest in years. Below is a brief scouting report on each player, followed by the likelihood that he’ll stick with his new club for the entire season. Input from other prospect staff members is incorporated where indicated. In draft order:
1. Patrick Schuster, LHP
Drafting Team: Astros (traded to Padres as part of Anthony Bass deal)
Previous Team: Diamondbacks
Scouting Report: Starter in 2010, swing man in 2011, reliever in 2012-13. Fastball 88-90, above-average curveball.
Stickability: Moderate. As a three-quarters/side-arm lefty, Schuster has a chance to make it as a lefty specialist. Along with backup catcher, that’s usually the best bet for a Rule 5 pick to stick with his new team. The jump from A-ball is tough, but making it all year in the California League with a 1.83 ERA in any role is impressive. His splits as a minor leaguer don’t favor him against lefties; if anything, southpaws have actually hit him better over his career.
3. Adrian Nieto, C
Drafting Team: White Sox
Previous Team: Nationals
2013 Numbers: High-A Potomac (Carolina League), .285/.373/.449, 110 G, 11 HR.
Scouting Report: A former over-slot pick in 2008 (fifth round) who has never been able to stay on the field long enough to make a case for himself. Played over 100 games in 2013 for the first time in his career. Good approach at the plate and above-average plate discipline. Above-average power for a catcher. However, he doesn’t have the defense to match. According to Mark Anderson, “Everything I had on his glove this year indicated he was a below-average receiver, decent footwork, above-average arm, and overall below-average to fringy defender without much projection.”
Stickability: Moderate. The aforementioned backup catcher, Nieto too is making the jump straight from A-ball. The offensive bar isn’t set very high for catchers, and it’s even lower for second-stringers, but he’ll have to hold his own behind the plate.
4. Kevin Munson, RHP
Drafting Team: Phillies
Previous Team: Diamondbacks
2013 Numbers: Double-A Mobile (Southern League), 29 G, 31 2/3 IP, 3.41 ERA, 17 H, 39:15 K:BB. Triple-A Reno (Pacific Coast League), 24 G, 23 IP, 25 H, 5.09 ERA, 27:7 K:BB.
Scouting Report: Deliberate delivery with a heavy 92-94 fastball from a high-3/4 release point. Slider is mid-80s with a short, sharp, and sometimes inconsistent break. Hhas bouts of control issues where he rushes and his arm is late getting through. — Steffan Segui
Stickability: Moderate. The Phillies have struggled badly with internal evaluation and lack power arms in their bullpen. If Munson can miss bats as usual and get away with the walks in the short term, the Phillies will probably give him a chance in the middle innings.
8. Tommy Kahnle, RHP
Drafting Team: Rockies
Previous Team: Yankees
2013 Numbers: Double-A Trenton (Eastern League), 46 G, 60 IP, 2.85 ERA, 38 H, 74:45 K:BB.
Scouting Report: Stocky, thick build. Plus fastball, 94-97 with lots of 96s and 97s. Threw from a high-3/4 slot, quick and short action.
Stickability: Moderate. There’s always a chance that a new face arriving in camp throwing 97 mph will wow everyone enough to grab a roster spot. If he does that, however, he’ll have to throw a lot more strikes than he did in 2013 to keep it.
9. Brian Moran, LHP
Drafting Team: Blue Jays (Traded to Angels for international bonus money)
Previous Team: Mariners
2013 Numbers: Triple-A Tacoma (Pacific Coast League), 48 G, 62 2/3 IP, 3.45 ERA, 70 H, 85:20 K:BB.
Scouting Report: An average fastball is his best pitch, which is why he’s 25 and still in the minors despite success at almost every level. Limited ceiling as a left-handed specialist.
Stickability: High. The Angels wanted Moran enough to trade for him, so there’s definitely an interest there. Additionally, he has a long track record of minor league success and a year-and-a-half of Triple-A action under his belt. He’s more major league-ready than most Rule 5 picks.
10. Seth Rosin, RHP
Drafting Team: Mets (sold to Dodgers)
Previous Team: Phillies
2013 Numbers: Double-A Reading, 26 G (23 GS), 126 2/3, 4.33 ERA, 120 H, 96:35 K:BB.
Scouting Report: Large but not all that in-charge. Throws a ton of strikes with an average fastball and below-average secondary offerings.
Stickability: Low. It’s strange that the Dodgers liked Rosin enough not only to grab him in the Rule 5 draft but to have someone else take him before their pick, then trade for him. Rosin worked as a reliever with the Giants, but the Phillies decided to try him as a starter. He’s not terribly effective in either role, and his fastball doesn’t play up much in short stints. His only chance to make the Dodgers is as a reliever or if there are injuries to the team’s starting pitchers in spring training.
11. Wei-Chung Wang, LHP
Drafting Team: Brewers
Previous Team: Pirates
2013 Numbers: Gulf Coast League Pirates, 12 G (11 GS), 47 1/3 IP, 3.23 ERA, 37 H, 42/4 K:BB.
Scouting Report: Low-90s fastball, plus changeup. Only Rule 5 eligible because he was an international free agent with a previously voided contract.
Stickability: Moderate. Guys trying to jump straight from the GCL to the big leagues don’t usually have much of a chance, but Wang wasn’t your typical GCLer. At 21, he was way too old for the league, and the maturity showed. He has a chance because he throws a ton of strikes and because the Brewers bullpen isn’t all that great.
15. Marcos Mateo, RHP
Drafting Team: Diamondbacks
Previous Team: Cubs
2013 Numbers: Rookie-level Arizona Cubs, 5 G, 6 IP, 0.00 ERA, 3 H, 8:2 K:BB. Double-A Tennessee (Southern League), 6 G, 8 2/3 IP, 1.04 IP, 6 H, 7:7 K:BB. Triple-A Iowa (Pacific Coast League), 13 G, 16 1/3 IP, 2.76 ERA, 15 H, 15:4 K:BB.
Scouting Report: The 29-year-old is a Tommy John survivor (June 2012) who appeared in the majors in 2011-12. Features a mid-90s fastball and upper-80s slider.
Stickability: High. Because he’s older and has previous major league experience, Mateo could easily stick with Arizona, depending on his spring and their needs.
16. Michael Almanzar, 3B
Drafting Team: Orioles
Previous Team: Red Sox
2013 Numbers: Double-A Portland (Eastern League), .268/.328/.432, 131 G, 16 HR.
Scouting Report: Plus raw power. Long arms, with length and leverage in the swing. Generates solid bat speed. Extends well on balls out and over the plate. Gets tied up with stuff on the inner third due to early extension. Improved balance at the plate from early career, but can still get way out on front foot, and head of the bat drags as a result. Below-average pitch recognition, especially with breaking stuff. Aggressive approach. Can square up velocity. On the stiff and rigid side at third base. Choppy footwork. Slow with reads and lateral movements. Charges balls well. Plus arm. Playing increasingly at first base. At times looks uncomfortable, average defensive potential at position. Level of engagement drifts on the field. Has struggled with attitude issues in the past. —Chris Mellen
Stickability: Moderate. Almanzar is still raw and will be making the jump from Double-A, but as a third baseman now with the Orioles, he could get a shot to prove himself early in the season if Manny Machado doesn’t return in time for Opening Day. If he can prove himself during that time, the O’s could choose to keep him as a bench player after Machado’s return.