With the Rule-5 draft now in the books, here are some first impressions!
Josh Fields was the first pick of the draft. The Astros selected the former Mariner first-round pick from the Red Sox organization. Fields was drafted as a closer prospect expected to make it to the Majors quickly. Now 27 years old, Fields has started to become a pitcher, throwing strikes while still posting well above a strikeout per inning. Fields is a solid pick that could stick with the Astros all season long and play a prominent role in their pen.
Nearly 25 years old, Hector Rondon spent most of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery. If not for the injury, he’d already be a part of the Indians' rotation. When healthy, Rondon is a strike-thrower with a good fastball/changeup combo. The Cubs could end up using him in middle relief with an eye on moving him towards starting if the righty is effective.
The Rockies selected lefty Daniel Rosenbaum from the Nationals. He’s a former 22nd round pick and something of your typical crafty lefty that throws strikes, gets groundballs, does not throw hard, but knows how to change speeds and throw strikes. Rosenbaum spent 2012 in Double-A as a starting pitcher.
The Red Sox lost pitcher Ryan Pressly to the Twins. A right-hander, Pressly spent time in A+ and Double-A in 2012. The former 11th round pick profiles best in middle relief where having a cut fastball and changeup may help him be effective against righties and lefties alike.
The first position player of the Rule-5 draft was Chris McGuiness from the Rangers organization. The Indians have had some difficulty getting production out of the 1B/DH slots so the move makes sense from that perspective. The lefty is a patient hitter with legitimate 20-plus per season HR power. Strikes me as a possible platoon first baseman with enough upside to be a solid, but unspectacular starter.
The Marlins are retooling their team and are in need of outfielders, so taking Alfredo Silverio from the Dodgers was a sound move. The righty is a fairly toolsy player who can play centerfield adequately, has 15-20 HR per season power potential and double-digit steal speed. Silverio makes fairly regular contact and could potentially hit for average, but has shortcomings when it comes to overall discipline and could have shortcomings when it comes to getting on base overall.
The Red Sox selected Jeff Kobernus from the Nationals and have already traded him to the Tigers for cash or a player to be named. The 24-year-old has plus speed, gap power, and makes contact 83-84% of the time but is an impatient hitter unlikely to post an OBP to make him a credible starter. The second baseman looks more like a utility player long-term to me, though one who may be an asset for fantasy players given 40+ steals in the Minors in each of the past two seasons.
Similarly it appears, the Mets have dealt a Rule-5 pick to Detroit. The selection was Kyle Lobstein from the Rays. Lobstein is a former second-round pick who made 27 starts for the Rays’ Double-A organization in 2012. The lefty does not throw hard but changes speeds and spins the ball well. 2012 was the first season in which his command was not an asset. The 23-year-old could have a future in middle relief or as a middle to back end member of a rotation.
Starlin Peralta was selected from the Cubs by the Diamondbacks. The 22-year-old’s future likely lies in the bullpen. The righty is a hard-thrower who can hit the mid to upper nineties and has mediocre command. The high octane fastball, however, has not resulted in high strikeout rates, indicating further work on his secondary stuff is necessary.
Ender Inciarte is a slightly built left-hander out of Venezuela, The 22-year-old outfielder has little to no power but stole 46 bases at two levels for the Diamondbacks while showing impressive contact-making abilities as well as a good batting eye, especially at full-season A-ball (1:1 BB/K ratio). If he somehow sticks with the Phillies, expect his role to be limited to defensive replacement and pinch-runner with an upside of replacing Juan Pierre's 2012 role. The test for all speedsters like Inciarte is whether or not MLB-caliber pitchers can simply overpower them. That combined with a multiple level jump could get Inciarte returned to Arizona.
In a surprising move, the White Sox selected journeyman shortstop Angel Sanchez from the Angels. The righty had a good season in the Texas League where he walked more often than struck out and batted .320/.390/.407. Regardless, Sanchez fits best on any MLB roster as a utility player/defensive replacement.
The Orioles selected T.J. McFarland from the Indians. A left-hander, McFarland is a pitch-to contact ground-baller who made 27 starts between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012. The red flag here is a drop off in strikeout rates to the sub-5.0 level during his stay in Triple-A. McFarland is most likely a fifth starter or middle reliever at best.
Sticking with pitchers, the Rangers selected Coty Woods from the Rockies. A nearly 25-year-old, Woods relieved in 61 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012, posting 27 saves along the way. It was a Jekyll and Hyde season as Woods posted an 8.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in Double-A before falling on his face with a 5.7 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 following the righty’s promotion. A submariner, Woods' best role in the Majors would be as a right-handed relief specialist.
Nate Freiman was the final position player selected in the Rule-5 draft. As a 24-year-old, Frieman belted 24 homers in Double-A while making contact over 83% of the time and posting a .298/.370/.502 line. Right now, the Astros lack a true starting first baseman and are searching for stop gaps for Jonathan Singleton. The former 8th round draft pick’s power is legitimate with back-to-back 20+ HR seasons. He could fill a role as interim first baseman or designated hitter. His solid career contact hitting skills may also make Freiman more than a mere platoon player.
The final pick in the draft was Braulio Lara by the Marlins from the Rays. The 24-year-old has moved one level at a time and has pitched only as high as A+ ball where he posted a 5.71 ERA. Lara is a hard-thrower for a lefty but lacks command of his pitches and much beyond a fastball. There is lefty specialist potential here, but it is more likely that Lara gets returned to the Rays.