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Sunday 18th Feb 2018

Boy, what a wild and wooly Hot Stove we have had this fall, with arguably two of the biggest fantasy players--not to mention Major League stars--Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols trading uniforms.

In Reyes case, the signing means the left side of an infield that would make most owners of any kind of team salivate, putting Reyes at short and moving Hanley Ramirez to third. It will be interesting to see how this pair divides now on fantasy teams, especially in 2013 when theoretically Hanley officially becomes a third sacker.

And, Albert-the-Great has left comfy Busch and migrates to Anaheim for a ten-year deal. No question Albert has been the dominant bat in baseball over the past ten years, and as he enters his 32nd year on the planet, Pujols is still in his prime years. But, at this point Albert is only the second best hitter in the league, behind Miguel Cabrera, and if Alex Rodriguez is a barometer, in five years Pujols should be slowing down. So, the upside is a good five solid seasons lay ahead, but, Pujols could be an expensive commodity over the final five years of the deal.

And, next month we will indeed take a look at the winners and losers of the Hot Stove as the New Year begins.

This time, let's look at some of the Rule 5 selections made. Rule 5 picks are interesting as when a team selects one that player must remain on the major league roster for the full 2012 year. Those players can be placed on the DL, but, rather than being optioned, they must first be offered back to the player's original team.

To qualify as a Rule 5 pick, a player must:

  • Not be on the 40-man roster of his team
  • Have played more than four years at any level, but been signed after his 19th birthday, or
  • Have played at least five years at any level but have been signed before his 19th birthday

And, that spells sleeper. Of course most of the time these players wind up with DL time, or being returned, but the likes of Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana, Bobby Bonilla and Fernando Vina are notable exceptions.

So, let's look at this year's selections, starting with former Red Sox, Cesar Cabral, grabbed by the Royals to augment their pen. Over five seasons, Cabral, now 22, has been used only as a reliever, posting a 16-23, 3.61, with 333 whiffs over 347 innings (1.30 WHIP) with a total of 22 saves. Cabral does keep the ball down with just ten homers allowed, but for now Cabral is one of many in the pen behind Joakim Soria. (Note that the Royals swapped Cabral to the Yankees right after the draft.)

Another reliever plucked would be Rhiner Cruz, taken by the Astros from the Mets. Cruz is one of those with serious gas, as witnessed by just 280 hits surrendered over 340 innings (320 strikeouts), but, he also clearly has command issues with 209 walks allowed over that same span (1.43 WHIP). Cruz' successful 2009 at Savannah where he garnered 22 saves (3-3, 1.92) suggests the 25-year old with seven pro seasons under his belt has the stuff to be a closer, and on the Astros, who currently lack a dominant arm at the spot, the possibilities increase. Still, Cruz has to show he is not Daniel Cabrera, but the case is interesting.

Southpaw Lucas Luetge, formerly of the Brewers, now Seattle, has a similar resume to his mates on the Rule V list with 17-14, 3.43 over 291 innings and four seasons. Luetge has 258 strikeouts to 103 walks, with 284 hits allowed, but after spending his last two years at Huntsville the 25-year old is probably best suited to setting up and situational work.

Former first round pick (2008) Ryan Flaherty, of the Cubs, is certainly worth tracking since being taken by the Orioles last week. Flaherty was .305-14-66 last year at Tennessee before being promoted to Iowa where he went .237-5-22 (.280-19-88 for the year) pushing his four year minor league totals to .278-57-267. With 175 walks to 334 strikeouts over 450 games, but what makes Flaherty interesting is his versatility. Flaherty played every position last year save catcher, including 32 in the outfield, 37 at second, 14 at short, and 12 at third. Meaning at Baltimore the 25-year old could fit in doing almost anything almost anywhere on the field.

Oddly, while the Cubs lost Flaherty, they picked up Lendy Castillo, formerly a middle infielder, now a pitcher, signed out of the Dominican Republic four years ago. As a hitter (.239-4-36 over 444 at-bats) Castillo was not really successful, as hit .287 OBP and .600 OPS suggest, but Castillo has been a pretty good reliever since, with 7-4, 2.43 over 111 innings. Still just 21, Castillo has 111 strikeouts over that span, with 86 hits allowed, a 1.15 WHIP, and just three homers allowed. Castillo may not turn out to be Brooks Kieshnick, but he could turn into a decent reliever. Not much roto value, however.

Also from the Domincan is shortstop Gustavo Nunez, a 23-year old originally signed by the Tigers, now a Pirate. With .266-13-165 totals, Nunez is not really an offensive juggernaut, but with 26 triples and 110 swipes over 464 games, on a team with an uncertain lineup, who knows? Considering, however, that last year Nunez split between High-A Lakeland (.304-3-18) and Double-A Erie (.215-2-8) I am not holding my breath. At his age Nunez should succeed at A-ball, in fact he should be able to make the jump to Douible-A. Those 2010 results suggest the majors will not be better.

Robert Fish was a sixth rounder of the Angels in 2006, a left-hander who was a starter and now is a reliever as well as a member of the Braves. With 21-20, 4.87 numbers over 399 innings, Fish does have an impressive 415 strikeouts with an equally unimpressive 411 hits and 189 walks (good for a 1.50 WHIP). Fish did pitch pretty well at Arkansas, going 1-0, 3.26, albeit over just 30.1 innings. Probably not much there.

Hoping to fill a portion of the Albert Pujols void, St. Louis drafted Erik Komatsu from the Nationals. But, the Nats only owned the outfielder for a a few months of play, as they acquired Komatsu at the 2011 trade deadline from the Brewers in exchange for Jerry Hairston. Komatsu was an eighth round pick of Milwaukee in 2008, though he was a 37th round selection of the Yankees a year earlier (he chose to spend time at Cal State Fullerton). The left-hander has very nice four year minor league totals of .302-24-166 totals over 348 games, with 76 doubles, 57 steals, and an excellent 172 walks to 185 strikeouts, good for a .389 OBP. With a solid .843 OPS, Komatsu is a terrifc gamble for the Cards and indeed could fill a void, especially if Jon Jay, Allen Craig, or Lance Berkman struggle. 

Boston selected shortstop Marwin Gonzalez from the Cubbies and then shipped him off to the Astros. The 22-year has totals of .258-15-202 over 510 games and six seasons, but last year the Venezuelan split his time between AA Tennessee (.301-2-20) and AAA Iowa (.272-2-19), and though 91doubles and 47 steals are part of the equation, 116 walks to 272 strikeouts also factor, meaning the middle infielder will probably be a utility player.

Right handed pitcher Brett Lorin is a really big (6'7", 245 lb.) guy originally drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 draft by the Mariners, then swapped to Pittsburgh in 2009 as part of the Ian Snell/Jack Wilson trade. With 18-16, 3.03 totals over 341.1 innings, Lorin differs from his pitching mates here in that he is a starter, with good supporting numbers. Lorin earned 318 strikeouts, while allowing 295 hits and just 91 walks, good for a 1.13 WHIP. Now a Diamondback, Lorin can join the crowd a the back end of the Arizona rotation, along with Josh Collmenter and Joe Saunders. Worth watching, Lorin is.

The Mets actually selected pitcher Brad Meyers in the 14th round of the 2004 draft, but Meyers chose Loyola Marymount instead, and was then drafted by the Nationals in the fifth round of the 2007 June soiree. Another starter, Meyers has been 31-18, 2.86 over 84 starts and 453 innings, striking out 378, allowing 443 hits and 105 walks, good for a 1.21 WHIP. Now 26, Meyers is finally in New York, this time with the Yankees, and based upon the good 2011 he had at AAA Syracuse (6-5, 3.48 over 95.2 innings after 3-2, 2.48 numbers at Harrisburg) the right hander could be a nice surprise supporting a rotation that is always sort of rag tag in spots. Keep and eye on him: hide Meyers on your reserve list, even till a path is defined.

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