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Wednesday 21st Feb 2018

What a fun and wild Winter Meetings week this was, with trades and signings, all of which are of interest to us all. The  proverbial dessert of the meetings is the Rule 5 draft, which took place Thursday.

The Rule 5 draft involves signed players who have been property of a team for five years who have never been to the Majors and who are not protected on the 40-man roster. Such players can be drafted by another team (draft order is worst record to best for teams participating). The selecting team pays the player's original team $50,000. The caveat is said player must remain on the active Major League roster for the entire season or be offered back for $25,000.

Still, drafted players can make at worst a cheap place holder in deeper fantasy leagues (they usually fetch no more than a dollar) and sometimes surprise, a la Geronimo Berroa. However, the notion that the player must stick with the roster all season makes for a gamble that promises the allure of a full season in the Majors (note, though, that doesn't always happen thanks to the DL and other tricks).

Anyway, let's take a look at this year's Rule 5 spoils (unless otherwise noted, picks are out of high school).

Tyler Goeddel (3B/OF, from Rays to Phillies): First round pick in 2011, Goeddel has a .262-31-244 line over four years with 108 swipes and a .337 OBP (172 walks to 388 strikeouts) and goes into next year as a 23-year-old with a pretty good mark at Double-A last year of .272-12-72 with 28 steals. Goeddel is big (6'4", 186 lbs.) and played a lot of outfield last year, and a lot of third the year before because the outfield would likely be his home. He has some interesting skills, but nothing earth shattering. Fifth outfielder at best for 2016.

Jake Cave (OF, from Yankees to Reds): The Yanks sixth rounder in 2011, like Goeddel, Cave had a nice enough season at Double-A Trenton last year (.269-2-37 with 17 steals) but like Goeddel, doesn't have much to offer but a cluster of pretty good lesser skills, suggesting a bench role at best. Whether you like Jay Bruce or not, Cave is not a replacement.

Evan Rutckyj (P, from Yankees to Braves): A 16th round pick in 2010, Rutckyj, (would he challenge for the "eyechart" nickname?), became a reliever in 2013 and has 365 punch-outs over 377 innings. The problem is the 373 hits and 191 walks (1.496 WHIP), although those numbers got better once the 6'5" lefty moved to the pen. Over 111.3 relief innings, he earned 140 strikeouts to 58 walks with 101 hits (1.426 WHIP) with a couple of saves. Set up and situational are the words that come to mind, but you never know. Not worth a roster spot. 

Luis Perdomo (P, from Cardinals to Rockies, then to Padres): The Dominican import has questionable 16-31, 4.16 totals over 316 minor league frames. The righty has whiffed 270 over that span, but allowed 351 hits and 94 walks (1.408 WHIP), so it was hard to see how that could work at Coors. However, the Rocks moved Perdomo to San Diego right away for the ubiquitous "future considerations,' although I am not sure Petco helps much either. Per Brian Walton, the expectation is Perdomo winds up back with St. Louis.

Colin Walsh (2B, from Athletics to Brewers): Mostly a second baseman, though he played a chunk of third and left over his career, Walsh was originally drafted by the Cardinals (13th round) in 2010, out of Stanford, meaning at 26 he is much longer in the tooth. The Cards flat out released Walsh in 2013, and the Athletics picked him up, only to lose the prototype Oaklander to the Brewers. The middle infielder has a modest .278-16-377 line over 564 games, with a solid .395 OBP (377 walks to 439 strikeouts), 51 swipes, and 351 runs. Over 191 Triple-A games, Walsh held his own over 47 games in the PCL, hitting .272-2-18 at Sacramento last year, and he could be just fine as a cheap middle infield crapshoot in an NL-only format.

Jabari Blash (OF, from Mariners to Athletics): At 26, Blash is another older selection, one who was drafted by the White Sox (29th round) in 2007, the Rangers (9th round) in 2008, and finally the Mariners (8th round) in 2010 out of Miami-Dade. With a solid .870 OPS over 551 games, Blash's bottom line is .256-109-340, but the whiffs (303 walks to 614 strikeouts) are the issue. Not sure what the Athletics will do with him, but they did judge Mark Canha well enough last year, so who knows?

Josh Martin (P, from Indians to Padres): Matriculated at Samford University in Alabama, and selected first by the Pirates (25th round) in 2011, then for good in the tenth round a year later. He is big (6'5", 230 lbs.) and a potentially dominant reliever with 265 strikeouts over 258.3 innings, with nine saves and an excellent 1.008 WHIP (74 walks, 207 hits). Martin does give up the dingers (25) but he is certainly worth tracking, if not a stash in a deep format.

Joey Rickard (OF, from Rays to Orioles): Selected in the ninth round in 2012 out of the University of Arizona, Rickard is now 24 and had a very good line of .283-13-139 over 359 games, with 209 runs and 73 swipes. Rickard played 29 games at Durham last season and posted a solid .360 average and .390 OBP. He is another who could be a good stash.

Deolis Guerra (P, from Pirates to Angels): Maybe the most interesting pick, Guerra fared well on my Top 250 Prospect List following his 6-7, 2.20 record at Hagerstown in 2006 as a 17-year-old. But alas, very little came to fruition for Guerra, who was signed by the Twins in 2007, re-signed in 2013, and the Pirates inked the 6'5" right-hander in November, 2014, and now Guerra goes to the Angels. His career has shown flashes, but few, so as much as I would like Guerra to succeed, I doubt he will.

Joe Biagini (P, from Giants to Jays): San Francisco grabbed Biagini in the 26th round of the 2011 Rule 4, out of UC Davis (my partner Diane's alma mater), and he has posted the okay stats of 29-30, 4.06 with 365 whiffs over 448 frames. He did comport well at Richmond last year with a 10-7, 2.42 line, but as a 25-year- old at Double-A, that is to be expected.

Matthew Bowman (P, from Mets to Cardinals): The Metropolitans' 12th round pick out of Princeton in 2013, Bowman logged 176.3 innings at Triple-A the past two years with a 10-18, 5.10 line with 109 whiffs and a 1.599 WHIP. It is easy to see why the pitching rich Mets would not need to protect Bowman, but I am not sure what the Cardinals see in him.

Daniel Stumpf (P, from Royals to Phillies): A lefty, Stumpf was Kansas City's ninth round pick in 2012 out of San Jacinto College, and he functioned primarily as a reliever in the Royals system, posting ten saves under a 20-23 record with a 3.21 ERA. He struck out 308 over 311 innings, and notched an excellent 1.182 WHIP. He has only pitched as high as Double-A, and did okay there (5-4, 3.21, 76 whiffs over 71 frames), so I would be leery.

Chris O'Grady (P, from Angels to Reds): The Angels' tenth round pick in 2010 out of George Mason, O'Grady is another big guy (6'4", 220 lbs.) who is also a lefty. Another reliever, O'Grady bagged four saves at Arkansas over 49 innings before moving up to Salt Lake for 8.6 innings. He has pretty good control with 198 strikeouts over 210.3 innings with just 52 walks and 195 hits (1.174 WHIP) and, well, anything might go with the Reds and their pen this season.

Zach Jones (P, from Twins to Brewers): Kansas City drafted Jones in the 24th round in 2009, but Jones continued to San Jose State where the Twins nabbed him in the fourth round in 2012. Another reliever, the 25-year-old has the best resume of the Rule 5 picks with 33 saves and 186 whiffs over 130.3 innings to go with a 9-7 record and 2.83 ERA. Jones has not hurled past the Double-A level, but he does have pretty good credentials.

Blake Smith (OF/P, from White Sox to Padres): The Dodgers drafted Smith out of UC Berkeley in 2009, where he played in 515 games as an outfielder but really has worked as a reliever since 2013. During the 2015 season, L.A. traded Smith to the Pale Hose for Eric Surkamp. Blake makes the third Rule 5 who landed with San Diego, which should mean some interesting roster decisions, but as for Smith, the 28-year-old throws hard with 137 whiffs over 134 innings but has control issues with 75 walks over that span.

Ji-Man Choi (1B, from Orioles to Angels): Hit .302-35-211 over 335 minor league games, with a .280-8-52 line over 109 Double-A games. Choi has 180 walks to 222 strikeouts (.404 OBP) and an excellent .886 OPS in the Minors. With C.J. Cron and Albert Pujols in tow, it is hard to figure where Choi fits in (remember, the Angels picked up Guerra as well), but Choi is an interesting reserve stash in Ultra Leagues.

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