This year’s Rule 5 draft came and went yesterday, with 18 players selected in the major-league phase of the draft. All the players selected will need to spend the entire 2018 season on their new team’s active roster (or disabled list). Otherwise, they have to be offered back to their original team.
Since most of these players do not have any sort of prospect pedigree anyway, I utilized the stats-only version of KATOH. WAR figures represent projections for the first six years of a player’s major-league career. For a scouting companion to this post, read Eric Longenhagen’s analysis from earlier this afternoon.
Players listed in order of draft selection.
1. Detroit Tigers
Victor Reyes, OF, 1.9 WAR (from D-backs)
Reyes has long been a KATOH darling. Look no further than his player page to see the articles in which he has been tagged.
KATOH has always believed in Reyes’s blend of youth, contact, and speed — a skill set he carried into Double-A last year. Reyes showed everything except for power as 22-year-old in Double-A last year. Given his 6-foot-3 frame, I wouldn’t be surprised if more power eventually shows up.
2. San Francisco Giants
Julian Fernandez, RHP, 0.1 WAR (from Rockies)
From a stats perspective, Fernandez looks like nothing more than an OK, Low-A reliever. But he throws exceptionally hard.
Julian Fernandez is a howitzer. 98-101, not much else going on.
— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) December 14, 2017
Still, the outlook for Low-A relievers isn’t good, particularly when they are 21-year-old international signees with mediocre numbers. The Giants are betting on Fernandez’s ability to light up the radar gun.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
Nick Burdi, RHP, N/A WAR (from Twins, then traded to Pirates)
Burdi is another stuff-based lottery ticket. He has faced just 75 batters over the last two seasons, which obviously makes it difficult to come up with any sort of statistical projection. But Eric Longenhagen gave Burdi’s fastball and slider future grades of 80 and 70, respectively, last winter.
4. Chicago White Sox
Carlos Tocci, OF, 1.4 WAR (from Philadelphia, traded to Texas)
Tocci hit well as a 21-year-old center fielder in Double-A last year, which automatically makes him interesting. However, his power remains non-existent and his 2017 numbers were somewhat BABIP-aided. Both the scouting reports and his performance suggest he lacks the speed and defensive chops to make up for his uninspiring hitting, unless he starts hitting for more power. Tocci’s profile quite similar to that of Victor Reyes’s above.
5. Cincinnati Reds
Brad Keller, RHP, 3.5 WAR (from Arizona, traded to Kansas City)
Keller struck out a respectable 19% of batters faced as a 21-year-old starter in Double-A. His ERA was hurt by an inflated BABIP, but the 6-foot-5 righty pitched well otherwise. Pitchers who can hold their own in a Double-A rotation at 21 are hard to come by and often turn into successful big leaguers. Keller was KATOH’s best available right-handed pitcher in the draft.
6. New York Mets
Burch Smith, RHP, 0.7 WAR (from Tampa Bay, traded to Kansas City)
A former Padres prospect (and big leaguer), Smith has pitched very little since 2013. He was just OK in the Rays’ system last season, though he did strike out 29 batters in 20 innings in the Arizona Fall League.
7. San Diego Padres
8. Atlanta Braves
Anyelo Gomez, RHP, 0.7 WAR (from New York Yankees)
Gomez shot through four levels of the Yankees system last year, turning in a 31% strikeout rate and a 1.92 ERA across 70 relief innings. The outlook is never great for 24-year-old relievers below Triple-A, but Gomez pitched about as well as one could have reasonably expected last year.
9. Oakland Athletics
10. Pittsburgh Pirates
Jordan Milbrath, RHP, 0.3 WAR (from Cleveland)
Milbrath pitched well between High-A and Double-A last year, but did so as a 25-year-old reliever. His 6-foot-6 frame is a point in his favor, but not nearly enough for KATOH to buy in.
11. Baltimore Orioles
Nestor Cortes, LHP, 2.9 WAR (from New York Yankees)
Cortes pitched brilliantly as a swingman in the upper levels, spinning a 2.06 ERA and a 25% strikeout rate. He was particularly dominant following a June promotion to Triple-A. As a 5-foot-11 former 36th-rounder, it is not hard to see why he’s been overlooked his entire career. But he’s a 22-year-old who has performed at every minor-league stop, including at Triple-A. Cortes was KATOH’s second-favorite left-handed pitcher available.
12. Toronto Blue Jays
13. Miami Marlins
Elieser Hernandez, RHP, 0.9 WAR (from Houston)
Hernandez pitched respectably in High-A last year, posting a 28% strikeout rate and 3.56 xFIP as a 22-year-old at High-A. Hernandez is only 6-foot even and is untested against hitters above A-ball, but he’s shown some promise.
14. Seattle Mariners
Mike Ford, 1B, 2.8 WAR (from New York Yankees)
Ford mashed .270/.404/.471 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017 after mashing .289/.411/.479 the season prior. Ford can clearly mash, but the concern with him has always been defensive flexibility, as he’s limited to first base. And at 6-foot even, he’s a bit undersized for someone with that profile. The Yankees signed Ford as an undrafted free agent back in 2013, following an excellent performance on the Cape the summer after his junior year at Princeton. Ford was KATOH’s best available first baseman in the draft.
15. Texas Rangers
16. Tampa Bay Rays
17. Los Angeles Angels
Luke Bard, RHP, 1.1 WAR (from Minnesota)
Bard faded into obscurity shortly after Minnesota took him in the supplemental round back in 2012. But then he put up video-game numbers between Double-A and Triple-A last year, anchored by a 35% strikeout rate and 8% walk rate. KATOH likes Bard better than the similarly obscure, mid-20s relievers listed above, partly because Bard has proven himself at Triple-A.
18. Kansas City Royals
19. St. Louis Cardinals
20. Minnesota Twins
Tyler Kinley, RHP, 0.3 WAR (from Miami)
Kinley is nearly 27 but struck out 32% of batters in High-A and Double-A last year. As I keep writing, the outlook for old relievers below Triple-A is not good. But one of them will probably have an ERA under 3.00 next year, because that’s just how relievers work.
21. Milwaukee Brewers
22. Colorado Rockies
23. New York Yankees
24. Chicago Cubs
25. Arizona Diamondbacks
Albert Suarez, RHP, N/A WAR (from San Francisco)
Suarez tossed 116 innings with the Giants between the last two seasons, turning in a 4.51 ERA and a replacement-level-ish performance. He missed some bats out of the Giants’ pen last year, relying primarily on his fastball and curveball.
26. Boston Red Sox
27. Washington Nationals
28. Houston Astros
Anthony Gose, LHP, N/A WAR (from Texas)
Once a toolsy outfield prospect, Gose never really learned to hit. He converted to pitching last year and struck out 31% of batters in 11 High-A appearances. It will be interesting to see how the Astros choose to use Gose in spring training. The Astros believe Gose “had the best stuff in the Draft.”
29. Cleveland Indians
30. Los Angeles Dodgers
Pedro Araujo, RHP, 1.0 WAR (from Chicago Cubs)
Araujo dominated High-A batters last year, posting a 1.75 ERA and 33% strikeout rate. He also walked just 7% despite his gaudy strikeout numbers. Araujo is a 23-year-old who has one appearance above A-ball, but he’s been dominant enough to catch KATOH’s attention.
Brett Graves, RHP, 0.9 WAR (from Oakland)
Graves was a third-round pick in 2014 but struggled in the minors prior to last year. He pitched relatively well between High-A and Double-A before going down with injury in June. However, Eric Longenhagen noted in October that Graves was touching 96 mph in instructs.
Jose Mesa, Jr., RHP, 1.5 WAR (from New York Yankees)
The son of the former All-Star closer, Mesa pitched excellently as a swingman between High-A and Double-A, posting a 31% strikeout rate and a 1.93 ERA. Despite his bloodlines, the 24-year-old has never been seen as much of a prospect, but he’s always posted gaudy strikeout numbers.
|Round||Pick||Player||Position||New Team||Former Team||KATOH|
I won’t bore you with write-ups for the guys taken in the Triple-A phase. Instead, I’ll provide you with a few notes and a gigantic table. Triple-A Rule 5 picks are not subject to any of the aforementioned roster restrictions. They simply become part of a new organization with no strings attached.
- I saw Eduardo Rivera (SFG) pitch in the NYPL this summer and was impressed by his stuff. He touched 97 out of the pen and also threw a 75-79 mph curveball with good movement. Rivera has big-league stuff but has long arm action and very little idea of where the ball is going. He posted a 1.90 ERA and 34% strikeout rate in the NYPL, but that’s not terribly impressive coming from a 24-year-old facing hitters several years younger than him. He was with the Yankees last season, but had signed with the Reds as a minor-league free agent.
- A former Cistulli’s Guy, Yermin Mercedes (CHW) hit .276/.340/.455 between High-A and Double-A last year while playing catcher. Presumably teams do not think he’s a catcher long-term, however.
- Brallan Perez (OAK) has bounced around between levels and teams, but over the past two seasons, he’s hit a solid .299/.376/.374 in A-ball. He’s still just 21.
- Tyler Smith (ATL) is a shortstop who didn’t embarrass himself offensively at Triple-A last year. The Mariners briefly called him up last June.
- Brandon Barker (MIA) came to the Orioles in last May’s Brian Matusz trade. He pitched decently as a 24-year-old swingman in Double-A last year.
|Round||Pick||Player||Position||New Team||Former Team||KATOH|
|1||2||Yermin Mercedes||C/1B||White Sox||Orioles||1.3|
|1||3||Mitch Nay||1B/3B||Reds||Blue Jays||0.0|
|1||10||Drew Muren||RHP||Blue Jays||Giants||0.3|
|1||13||Locke St. John||LHP||Rangers||Tigers||0.1|
|1||22||Andy Ferguson||RHP||Red Sox||Royals||0.2|
|2||31||Alberto Mineo||C||Blue Jays||Cubs||0.1|
|2||38||Luke Tendler||OF||Red Sox||Rangers||0.1|
|3||41||Ivan Castillo||SS||Blue Jays||Indians||0.5|