Hi guys, Jays fan here. I did a write up previewing tommorows Rule 5 draft for my team, including some of the names to look out for. I thought you guys might appreciate it. I ommitted any Jays-specific angle for your convenience.
25 Names To Know
1) Dae-Eun Rhee RHP, Chicago Age 22 Level A+ Daytona (FSL) Build 6`2 190lbs
2011 stats 8-7 4.02 era 127.2ip 131h 43bb 117so
Rhee was an international signing out of Korea by the Cubs in 2008. He is arguably the best long-term starting pitching prospect available in the Rule 5 draft this year. Rhee`s potential is massive. He has a great pitcher`s frame standing at 6`2 190lbs, and he features three pitches that rate as above average to plus on a scouting scale. His best pitch is his four-seam fastball which sits between 93-95mph, which he compliments with a plus changeup and an above average 11-5 curveball that he can throw consistently for strikes. He also demonstrates good command and control overall. The only concern over Rhee, and the reason he hasn`t pitched above A-Ball, is injuries. He had Tommy John surgery in 2008, and his stuff didn`t fully return until midway through 2011. He also has questionable mechanics which could make him an injury risk going forward. In the short term, his stuff and pitchability could allow him to be reasonably effective in a low-leverage role in 2012, with an eye toward a rotation spot in 2014. A team patient enough and willing to gamble on a roster spot for Rhee could get a big reward on their investment.
2) Bryce Stowell RHP, Cleveland Age 24 Level AA, Akron (EL) Build 6’2 205lbs
2011 stats 1-1 2.09 era 38.2ip 21h 21bb 57so
Drafted in the 22nd round of the 2008 draft Stowell is a hard-throwing relief prospect who used to throw consistently in the high 90s, but due to elbow injuries sits mostly 92-95 now occasionally hitting 98 when he rears back for a little extra. In addition to the dominant fastball, Stowell throws a slider and a changeup that have both made strides towards becoming effective secondary pitches. Stowell has a special arm, but because of said arm injuries he will probably be limited to being a late-inning reliever or setup man so as to not tax his arm. He could be dominant in that role however, and should be ready to join a major league 25-man roster should he be selected in the Rule-5 draft.
3) Trevor Reckling LHP, Anaheim Age 22 Level AA, Arkansas (TL) Build 6’2 205lbs
2011 stats 4-7 3.73era 99ip 104h 35bb 63so
Once a highly regarded prospect, Reckling struggled in 2010 and 2011 while playing in the hitter friendly Texas and Pacific Coast Leagues. Reckling profiles as a mid-rotation starter with an average fastball that sits in the low 90s, and three plus off speed pitches a huge-bending curveball, a hard slider, and possibly the best change-up in the Angels' system. He has a pretty good track record of success in the minors prior to the last two years, and he’s only 22. For some reason his struggles remind me of Ricky Romero when he was in the minors, though I think Recklings struggles are partially league driven, while Romero’s issues were mental and mechanical. Reckling has a herky jerky delivery which also has caused him to have control and command problems. The team that thinks it can sort him out might take a flier, but they’ll most likely have to stash him in the bullpen first.
4) Cesar Cabral LHP, Boston Age 22 Level AA, Portland (EL) Build 6’3 175lbs
2011 stats 3-4 2.95era 55ip 56h 21bb 70so
The Blue Jays already took a chance on Cabral last season, claiming him off of waivers from the Rays after they had selected him from Boston in the Rule 5 draft. Unfortunately Toronto had already made an agreement with the Red Sox that in exchange for John Farrell’s defection, they would not target any Red Sox farmhands for a year, and it didn’t matter that the Jays got him from the Rays cause that would have simply been semantics. Got that? This year no such agreement is in place and wouldn’t you know it Cabral is once again available for the Rule 5 draft. A match made in heaven it would seem. Cabral would be an excellent replacement for Luis Perez (who sucks) as the left-handed reliever out of Toronto’s bullpen. He has an excellent frame and a solid delivery that allows him to sling a fastball at 89-92 sometimes touching 95. His arsenal also includes a swing-and-miss circle change that rates as a plus pitch and slurvy type of curveball that is at least average. In 2011 in 55 innings split between AA and AAA Cabral had a 11.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.
5) Nick Barnese RHP, Tampa Age 22 Level AA, Montgomery (SOUL) Build 6’2 170lbs
2011 stats 6-8 3.76era 117.1ip 109h 57bb 91so
A 3rd round pick by Tampa in 2007 Barnese fastball sits at 91-93 mph with good life. His breaking ball is a hard slurve with good depth and late break, and it has a chance to become a 12-to-6 curveball. He's still working on his changeup, but his command is advanced. He has a sense of arrogance and cockiness, but he's focused and confident. Barnese pitches very aggressively, and isn't afraid to challenge a hitter in any count. His breaking pitches show good potential, but need work. His hard slurve has good break, but he needs to command it better, while his change-up flashes plus potential and keeps hitters off balance.
6) Erik Komatsu OF, Washington Age 24 Level AA, Harrisburg (EL) Build 5’10 175lbs
2011 stats .277/.367/.382 7hr 48rbi 64bb/66so 28sb 9cs
Originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 8th round of the 2008 draft Komatsu was acquired by the Nationals in the Jerry Hairston trade. A left handed hitter with a quick short stroke, Komatsu is a high-contact hitter, with great plate discipline who seldom strikes out. With his advanced approach he consistently hits for high averages and gets on base. He is a prototypical leadoff type hitter, not a burner on the bases, but heady enough to steal them at a good percentage. A smart player with excellent makeup and work ethic, he can play all three outfield positions and has an above average arm. Just about the only thing that is lacking from Komatsu’s game is power, though he will hit his share of doubles. There’s nothing stopping Komatsu from being at least an excellent 4th outfielder for a team right now, and he could possibly be an everyday centerfielder for a second division team.
7) Ryan Flaherty INF, Chicago Age 25 Level AA, Tennesse (SOUL) Build 6’3 220lbs
2011 stats .280/.347/.478 19hr 88rbi 50bb 99so 5sb 6cs
Taken by the Cubs in the 1st round (41st overall) of the 2008 draft Flaherty is only in the Rule 5 draft now because of Chicago’s depth of young infielders, and the fact that he doesn’t really have a position yet, having played 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, RF and LF, though that versatility could make him quite valuable for a team looking for a young super-utility type. In 2011, he hit .305/.384/.523 at AA before struggling a bit in AAA. He has some left-handed power, hits for a solid average, maintains a respectable walk rate, and has never posted 100+ Ks in a season. Flaherty is ML-ready (or nearly so), and could be a valuable bench bat and backup at several positions in 2012, with the potential for further improvement down the road.
8) Rob Bryson RHP, Cleveland Age 23 Level AA, Akron (EL) Build 6’1 200lbs
2011 stats 2-1 2.29era 39.1ip 28h 16bb 48so
Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 31st round of the 2006 draft, Bryson was one of the players acquired by Cleveland as part of the C.C Sabathia trade in 2009. Bryson is one of many excellent relief prospects within the Indians system which includes Bryce Stowell and TJ McFarland. He is strong armed reliever whose fastball sits comfortably in the 92-94 mph range, but can get as high as 97. He compliments this pitch with a plus-plus slider which is a major league out pitch already, generating lots of swings and misses. Bryson also throws a changeup, but it is a below average to average pitch at the moment. He has a clean, easily repeatable delivery which allows him to generate outstanding arm speed, without taking away from his command, evidenced by a nearly 4/1 K/BB ratio in 2010. The team selecting Bryson will be getting a reliever with a great combination of stuff and command, which along with his bulldog mentality and makeup project him to be a backend bullpen arm at the big league level.
9) Jiwan James CF, Philadelphia Age 22 Level A+, Clearwater (FSL) Build 6’4 180lbs
2011 stats .268/.327/.363 4hr 38rbi 40bb 120so 31sb 16cs
Jiwan James is one of the more intriguing names available in the draft. Only 22, the former 22-round pick in the 2007 draft has yet to translate his impressive physical attributes into performance. Originally drafted as a pitcher the Phillies decided that his tools translated better on the field where he projects to be a five-tool type of player. He is very similar to another Philly prospect, Dominic Brown, in terms of build and athleticism. A switch-hitter; he possesses at least average raw power on his wiry-projectable frame, and his speed grades out as a 70 on a typical scouting scale, just a tick below former Philly, and current Blue Jay, Anthony Gose. He’s said to be an excellent defender in centrefield albeit raw, and he projects to be a top tier defender with plus-plus arm strength. He has hit decent in his 2 minor league stops posting averages of .270 and .268 respectively, but like Gose, he’ll have to learn to take more walks, and strikeout less. He’s probably not ready to be rostered, but a team may take a flier on him for a selection and perhaps a spring training invite to get a better evaluation, and perhaps work out a deal later on to send him to the minors.
10) Jay Jackson RHP, Chicago Age 23 Level AAA, Iowa (PCL) Build 6'1 200 lbs
2011 stats 8-14 5.34 era 146.2ip 180h 46bb 97so
Drafted in the 9th round of the 2008 draft by the Cubs, Jackson has good feel for four pitches that are average or better. His best offering is a fastball ranging from 90-95 mph. He features a plus slider that sits around 81-84 mph with great vertical and horizontal movement, and his high-70s curveball rates as above-average as well. Jackson is a superb athlete who played in the outfield in college, which allows him to field his position well. He has a long arm action, but he’s so athletic that he repeats his high-three-quarters delivery easily. He’s fearless and fields his position well. Jackson doesn`t walk very many batters and he also strikes out batters at a very good rate. He has been compared to former Blue Jay Dave Stewart in stuff and demeanor, and his bulldog mentality and poise on the mound should make him an excellent back of the bullpen reliever, maybe even a closer.
11) Josh Smoker LHP, Washington Age 23 Level A+, Potomac (CARL) Build 6’2 195lbs
2011 stats 5-2 2.31era 50.2ip 32h 37bb 56so
Smoker is the type of pitcher teams like to gamble on in the Rule 5 draft. He’s a former 1st round pick (31st) of Washington’s in the 2007, whose development has been stalled by a variety of arm problems, (including shoulder surgery in late 2008). Nevertheless, he remains a player with very high upside. Smoker is a 6’2 lefty with power stuff. He throws three pitches: a fastball, a curve, and a splitter. In relief his fastball sits in the mid 90s and sometimes reaches 97 or 98, and the splitter at times can be a plush pitch. His feel for the curveball is inconsistent, but when he has command of it, it can be a very good pitch. Command has been an issue throughout Smoker's career. His walk rate last year was 6.6 per nine innings, and for his career as a whole it's a not-much-better 4.9 per nine. He's more of a grip-it-and-rip-it type than a true scholar of pitching, which doesn't help. That type of mentality makes him a better fit for the bullpen, and he made the move to that role in 2011, showing some improvement in his results and the quality of his stuff. Smoker is a high-risk, high-upside bullpen arm, who would be frustrating to watch as a situational lefty in 2012, but could pay big dividends in the long run if he's able to put it all together.
12) Isaias Velasquez CF, Cleveland Age 23 Level AA, Montgomery (SOUL) Build 5’11 155lbs
2011 stats .254/.328/.413 2hr 25rbi 22bb 33so 5sb 4cs
Signed by the Indians out of Panama in 2004 he was later traded to the Rays for Juan Salas. Velasquez is versatile player who can play the infield or outfield. The Rays have had him play centerfield where his speed is more of an asset. Velasquez has the makings of a good contact hitter, he strikes out very little and demonstrates excellent plate control leading to high on-base percentages. His speed and athletcisim help him on both sides of the ball and he has a knack for scoring runs, making him an exciting overall player to watch. Without much power he profiles as a right-handed hitting leadoff type hitter. A young team with roster space and playing time to spare, might take a chance on him. At worst he’s a utility player and a quality bat off the bench.
13) TJ McFarland LHP, Anaheim Age 22 Level AA, Akron (EL) Build 6’3 209lbs
2011 stats 9-10 3.74era 149.1ip 149h 51bb 115so
Drafted by the Indians in the 4th round in 2007 McFarland is an athletic groundball pitcher with the potential for three major league average pitches. He pounds the strike zone with a sinking a two-seam fastball that sits 89-92 and touches 94 mph. McFarland also throws a slider which has good tilt on it, and which he commands well, and has shown confidence in his changeup as it’s improved. McFarland throws all three of his pitches for strikes but really relies on his fastball. He is not scared of contact, and as he continues to mature as a pitcher both physically and mentally he may see a jump in his strikeout rate due to potential velocity gains and improved command and action of his sinker. He works quickly and creates some deception in his delivery which helps keep hitters off balance. Having already pitched at AA, he could conceivably make the jump to the Majors as a 5th starter or be stashed in the bullpen as a low-leverage middle relief guy with upside. He has been compared to Aaron Laffey.
14) Diego Moreno RHP, Pittsburgh Age 25 Level A+, Bradenton (FSL) Build 6’1 177lbs
2011 stats 2-4 3.63era 44.2ip 36h 18bb 45so
Moreno's 95-98 MPH fastball grades out as an 80 on the 20-80 scale. A 24-year-old out of Venezuela, Moreno backs up his heat with a solid changeup and a sweepy slider; though his unrefined off-speed repertoire keeps him from becoming a top prospect. Even with his fastball velocity Moreno has a solid idea of how to locate his stuff, and between Bradenton and Double-A Altoona he posted a 2.35 ERA and a 59-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 38 1/3 innings. About the only negative that's come this season for Moreno was when the Pirates suspended and demoted him back to Bradenton last month for unprofessional conduct. Combines power stuff with an ability to throw strikes. With only 18.2 innings above A+ ball selecting Moreno would be a bit of a risk but his combination of velocity and control could make it worthwhile.
15) Erasmo Ramirez RHP, Seattle Age 21 Level AAA, Tacoma (PCL) Build 5’11 180lbs
2011 stats 10-8 4.83era 152.2ip 178h 32bb 116so
Ramirez isn’t an overpowering pitcher by any stretch, he relies on his command and control for success. He’s a smaller pitcher but his fastball is pretty good sitting 89-91 and touching 94 at times. He shows incredible feel for such a young pitcher and his changeup already grades as a plus pitch, which he throws with good deception, and makes his fastball play up. He also throws a slider which shows the makings of an average pitch. Ramirez aggressively attacks the zone with his fastball and can place it inside or outside at will, setting up his off-speed pitches. Ramirez has put up incredible ground ball rates so far in his young career, and though he doesn’t have the upside of a number 1 or 2 starter he could settle in as a solid number 3 or, if drafted, a solid young reliever out of someone’s bullpen.
16) Elvis Araujo LHP, Cleveland Age 19 Level A-, Mahoning Valley (NYPL) Build 6’6 215lbs
2011 stats 9-1 3.36era 69.2ip 65h 25bb 63so
Araujo is a former international signing by the Indians who missed a lot of time (all of 2009 and 2010) due to elbow injuries. Araujo is a big bodied left-handed pitcher who flashes some impressive power stuff. He features a three pitch mix of a fastball, curveball, and changeup. When healthy his fastball consistently clocks in at 90-93 MPH, topping out at 96 MPH. Still only 20-years-old there is a chance his average and top velocity could increase. His curveball projects as a future plus pitch, though his changeup is still a work in progress. Unfortunately, because of his injuries Araujo doesn’t have that much experience pitching, and has not pitched a single inning above A-Ball. He’s not at all ready to be rostered onto someone’s 25-man, which is why Cleveland felt comfortable exposing him to the draft even though he is arguably their best lefty pitching prospect. If I’m the Jays, I try to work out a deal to acquire this pitcher and send him to the minors, as I think the sky’s the limit for him. Not sure Cleveland would be amendable to that for obvious reasons, but Araujo could eventually turn out to be a Francisco Liriano type or maybe even C.C. Sabathia.
17) Kyle Russell RF, LA Age 25 Level AAA, Albuquerque (PCL) Build 6`5 195lbs
2011 stats .255/.343/.488 20hr 72rbi 31(2b) 5(3b) 53bb 154so 6s 1cs
Kyle Russell is a left-handed hitting outfielder who the Dodgers drafted in the 3rd round in 2008. He`s played some center in the Dodgers system, but his future is most likely in right field, where he profiles to be average to slightly below average with a plus arm. Russel`s calling card at the next level will be his power. He hit 26 home runs between Class A Inland Empire and AA Chatanooga with a combined OPS of .933 to go along with 11 steals. In order to make it to the next level however Russell will have to improve his consistency in making good solid contact. He has the tendency to strikeout a lot (set Cape Cod League record for strikeouts) and in 2011 he struck out a combined 154 times over two levels (AA-AAA), to go with 54 walks and a triple slash line of .255/.343/.488. His rawness at the plate (think if Michael Crouse were in AA) might make a transition to a big league roster a difficult one, but he’s 25, and team might select him and see how he does in spring training.
18) Cole St. Clair LHP, LA Age 25 Level AA, Chatanooga (SOUL) Build 6’5 225lbs
2011 stats 1-5 3.04era 50.1ip 43h 13bb 46so
St. Clair was taken by the Dodgers in the 7th round of the 2009 draft. He’s battled health issues in his career (as many Rice pitchers have), but when healthy he throws a fastball in the 88-90 range but has touched the mid 90s in the past. Drafted as a potential starter with a three pitch mix, he is mostly a reliever now, and that same three pitch mix could make him a dominant one. St. Clair features a wicked slider and a very good changeup. He creates deception with his fairly high leg kick, leading to high strikeout and low hit totals. He also displays excellent command and control walking very few batters. St. Clair has posted good numbers in the minors and at 25 might be ready for a job in a major league bullpen as a late inning lefty specialist who can also get right handers out (a rare commodity). I have a soft spot in my scouting heart for St. Clair as I thought he’d turn out to be much better than he is. Much of that can be attributed to injuries which have taken some of the juice out of his fastball. I still think he could become a Scott Downs type of reliever, which would be very valuable. He would look excellent in the Jays bullpen that has lacked a reliable lefty reliever (with all due respect to Rzepczynski) since Scott Downs.
19) Beau Mills 1B, Cleveland Age 25 Level AA, Akron (EL) Build 6’3 220lbs
2011 stats 289/.347/.513 18hr 67rbi 22(2b) 32bb 59so
Taken 13th overall in the 1st round of the 2007 draft there were high expectations for Mills. He’s had his ups and downs throughout his minor league career, but seems to have finally gotten on track last season when he hit .300/.358/.522 with 10 homeruns in AA, Akron, and walked 22 times compared to only 37 strikeouts. Mills has always projected to be a very good hitter, with a sweet lefty swing that could hit for power as well as average. He has great plate coverage, and is adepth at hitting the ball to all fields, and making adjustments during games and sometimes at-bats. He has a nice line-drive swing and hits the ball hard, leading the entire Indians orginzation last year in line-drive percentage. Though initially drafted as a third baseman, Mills has been moved to first base where he has become at least an average defender. He has a very good major league body and the prototypical size for a first baseman. He is not a fast runner, but he is smart on the base paths and makes good decisions. Mills' makeup and level of intensity are off the charts
20) Ethan Martin RHP, LA Age 22 Level AA, Chattanooga (SOUL) Build 6`2 195lbs
2011 stats 9-7 5.95era 95.1ip 96h 66bb 104so
Taken by the Dodgers in the first round (15th overall) in the 2007 draft Martin is a power pitcher who has struggled with mechanical issues and well-below-average control over the last four years. He had a great debut for Great Lakes of the Midwest League posting a 3.87era to go with 120so and 61bb in 100ip. Since then however his era has soared from 6.35 in 2010 to 7.36 in 2011. Martin`s numbers improved slightly when he was promoted away from the hitter friendly CAL league and thrust into the more neutral AA Chatanooga of the SOUL league for 21 games. There, used almost strictly as a reliever, he posted a 4.02era to go along with 43so and 29bb and 31h in 40.1ip. A former high school third baseman, Martin is pretty athletic, and he has a smooth repeatable delivery. His best pitch is his fastball which he can throw from 93-98mph with good late life. He also has a breaking ball, which is a hard-downer curve that is a plus pitch when he can command it. He`s extremely competitive and at this point might fit well in someone`s bullpen, though he`s still young at 22.
21) Kasey Kiker RHP, Texas Age 24 Level A+ Myrtle Beach (CARL) Build 5’10 185lbs
2011 stats 3-4 7.05era 44.2ip 45h 52bb 54so
A former 1st round pick (12th) of the Rangers in 2007 Kiker's is very aggressiveness on the mound and attacks hitters with stuff that is more above-average than plus. He features a fastball that is 88-91 mph with a little sink, and his mid-70s curve has a short downward break. Kiker also flashes a changeup that rates as a plus, with hard fade away from right-handed hitters. Kiker has posted consistently high strikeout rates throughout his minor league career, despite lacking a true outpitch. He doesn’t allow allot of hits, but his walk rate has been atrocious the last few years, surpassing his innings pitched in 2010 and 2011. A team that thinks it can harness his stuff, most likely as a reliever, will take a chance on him.
22) Robert Fish LHP, Anaheim Age 23 Level AA, Arkansas (TL) Build 6’2 230lbs
2011 stats 1-0 2.97era 33.1ip 24h 18bb 44so
Fish is a former 6th round pick of the Angels in 2007. He’s a southpaw that shows above average velocity sitting 92-93 sometimes reaching 95MPH. His delivery has a bit of deception which makes the fastball play up. Fish works from a ¾ arm slot with a drop and drive delivery. His arm action can be somewhat inconsistent and can lead to spotty control from time to time. His primary secondary offering is a big breaking 11/5 curveball, but he can sometimes telegraph it, making it easier to read. Fish is a strikeout pitcher and would profile well as a lefty reliever in a big league bullpen with his plus fastball.
23) Steve Geltz RHP, Anaheim Age 24 Level AAA, Salt Lake (PCL) Build 5’10 170lbs
2011 stats 3-3 3.72era 48.1ip 35h 16bb 68so
An undrafted free agent Geltz is the epitome of a strikeout machine. Working primarily in relief the 5’10 Geltz has struck out 203 batters in 146 ip over three minor league seasons. Sure it’s not quite Tim Collinseasque but it’s still pretty impressive. Geltz is a strikeout artist who doesn’t allow a lot of hits and walks very few. He primarily attacks hitters with a fastball in the low to mid 90s, which he compliments with a plus slider, and a splitter which he uses like a changeup. The fastball has good movement but can sometimes be left up in the zone. Geltz one main flaw is his enormous fly ball rates, which could cause him to give up a lot of homeruns at the big league level. Despite this, I think he has a good chance at a career as a bullpen arm for someone, where I believe he can be just as successful as Tim Collins has been for the Royals. There are probably more exciting options than Geltz in the Rule 5 draft, but I wouldn’t mind one bit if the Jays selected him and gave him a shot in the bullpen.
24) Nick Schmidt LHP, Pittsburgh Age 26 Level A+, Lake Elsinore (CALL) Build 6’5 245lbs
2011 stats 4-6 3.91era 71.1ip 70h 26bb 67so
The first thing you notice about Schmidt is his size. He’s a big imposing lefthander with power stuff. A former 1st round pick (23rd) in the 2007 by the Pirates Schmidt’s bread and butter pitch is a plus 12-6 curve. His fastball rates as only average at 85-90 for a starter, but he will sit at 91-93 MPH in relief. With his arsenal and intimidating presence, in addition to his age, the time may be now for Schmidt. He can sometimes loose control and walk batters ala Marc Rzepczynski, but like Zep he could make a pretty good living as a lefty specialist in some teams bullpen, where his plus fastball and plus curve will be a nightmare for lefties.
25) Philippe Valiquette LHP, Seattle Age 25 Level AAA Build 6’1 200lbs
2011 stats NA
Originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in in the 7th round of the 2004 draft the Canadian, from Montreal, Quebec is one of the hardest throwing lefties in baseball. Though standing only 6’1 and 200lbs he can consistently hit the triple digits on the radar gun and has a playable slider. Unfortunately for Valiquette he has had trouble staying healthy and missed all of 2011 due to elbow problems. He also lacks a natural feel for pitching and has a very violent delivery leading to control problems he’s only struck out 7.2 batters per nine in his career (4.4 BB/9) while working almost exclusively out of the bullpen. Still, lefties with this kind of velocity are rare, and who better to give him a chance than a team from his home country.
Honorable Mention: RHP, Caleb Brewer (Angels); RHP, Tim Alderson (Pirates); OF, Shane Peterson (Athletics); RHP, Wynn Pelzer (Orioles); CF, Thomas Pham (Cardinals); LHP, Braulio Lara (Rays); SS, Marwin Gonzalez (Cubs); CF, Leandro Castro (Phillies); RHP, Travis Banwart (Athletics); LHP, Tyler Ibarra (Twins).