Pitchers are the most popular selections in the Rule 5 draft. Teams always have a pitching prospect who is talented, but isn’t talented enough to crack his team’s 40-man roster. Pitchers are also easier to protect, as they can be stashed in the bullpen, and used in blowout situations. The Pirates have landed some talent in this area in previous years, selecting Evan Meek in the 2008 Rule 5 draft, and getting Donald Veal in the 2009 draft. Here are the results of the Rule 5 draft over the last four years, detailing how many players were selected by position, and how many of those players were protected all season.
There have been 75 players selected in the Rule 5 draft over the last four years, and 55 were pitchers. Here is a look at the most interesting pitchers available for the Rule 5 draft this year.
RIGHT HANDED PITCHERS
Wynn Pelzer, Baltimore Orioles
The decision to leave Pelzer unprotected was a surprise for Baltimore. Baltimore traded Miguel Tejada for Pelzer, then left him unprotected from the Rule 5 draft, despite Baseball America recently naming him the number six prospect in the system heading in to 2011. That ranking isn’t a consensus, as Baseball Prospectus has Pelzer as the 15th best prospect in Baltimore’s system. Pelzer throws a 91-94 MPH fastball, touching 97, with a slider that is Major League average and the potential to be a plus pitch. Pelzer pitched in AA in 2010, mostly as a starter. He put up a 4.25 ERA in 114.1 innings, with an 8.1 K/9 and a 5.0 BB/9. He did much better in relief after going to Baltimore, with a 9.0 K/9 and a 3.2 BB/9 in 20 innings, making only one start in ten appearances. Pelzer could still work out as a starter, but is likely best used as a back of the bullpen reliever, especially with his velocity and the potential for his slider to end up as a plus pitch.
Jason Rice, Boston Red Sox
Rice is a small frames right hander who throws 92-94 MPH, working a lot in the mid-90s. In 2010 he worked at the AA level, with a 2.85 ERA in 60 innings as a reliever, along with a 10.6 K/9 and a 4.5 BB/9. Rice has had great strikeout numbers in his career, although he’s struggled with control, with his 2010 BB/9 ratio being one of his best yearly totals.
Matt Klinker, Cincinnati Reds
Klinker worked as a starter in 2010 in the Reds system, although he’s probably best long term as a reliever. In 18 starts in AA he put up a 2.83 ERA in 111.1 innings, with a 7.8 K/9 and a 1.9 BB/9. In AAA he pitched 52.1 innings, with a 5.85 ERA, a 7.1 K/9, and a 3.6 BB/9 ratio. Klinker throws a low-90s fastball, along with a good curveball that he throws below 70 MPH.
Adam Miller, Cleveland Indians
Miller was the top prospect in the Cleveland farm system from 2005-2008, and was a top 100 prospect in the majors from 2005-2009. Miller hasn’t pitched since the 2008 season, after having serious finger surgery to rebuild the pulley system in his middle finger. He returned during the instructional leagues this off-season, throwing 93-94 MPH. Prior to his injury issues, he was throwing 98 MPH, and touching 100. He would likely spend time on the disabled list to start the season, and he’s only pitched 28.2 innings in the last three seasons, but Miller could be a good gamble to take for a team hoping he can return to his former self.
Louis Coleman, Kansas City Royals
Coleman was recently rated the 17th best prospect in the Royals’ system by Baseball Prospectus, and the right handed reliever could be in the majors at some point this year, regardless of the Rule 5 status. He split the 2010 season between AA and AAA, putting up great numbers at each stop. In 51.2 innings at the AA level he had a 2.09 ERA, a 9.6 K/9, and a 2.4 BB/9. In 40.1 innings in AAA he put up a 2.23 ERA, a 10.7 K/9, and a 2.5 BB/9. Coleman throws 92-93 MPH, touching 95.
Update: Coleman isn’t eligible.
Adam Ottavino, St. Louis Cardinals
Ottavino was a first rounder in 2006, and has pitched in the majors, but was removed from the St. Louis 40-man roster, exposing him to the Rule 5 draft. In nine starts at the AAA level in 2010, Ottavino had a 3.97 ERA in 47.2 innings, with an 8.1 K/9 and a 2.3 BB/9. He pitched 22.1 innings in the majors, but didn’t have the same success, with an 8.46 ERA, and a 4.8 K/9. Ottavino was the 11th best prospect in the Cardinals system heading in to the 2010 season. He has a fastball that usually sits around 92-93, and can touch 96. He could be a good bullpen option, possibly a back of the bullpen guy with his fastball velocity.
Aneury Rodriguez, Tampa Bay Rays
Rodriguez went unprotected by the Rays last year after being acquired for Jason Hammel, but wasn’t selected in the 2009 draft. That was before he spent most of the 2010 season in AAA, with a 3.80 ERA in 113.2 innings, along with a 7.4 K/9 and a 3.9 BB/9 ratio. Rodriguez sat in the 92-94 MPH range with the Rockies, but dropped to the 89-91 MPH range after joining the Rays. He was working in that range at the start of the 2010 season, which lowers his appeal. He could be a back of the rotation starter, or a bullpen option, and since he turns 23 next month, there’s a chance that he could regain his velocity back to the 92-94 MPH range. His AAA success might make him a better risk to take this year.
Jake Brigham, Texas Rangers
Brigham hasn’t pitched above high-A yet, but he’s got a powerful arm, with a 92-96 MPH fastball that touches 97, and a power curveball that sits in the low 80s and grades as a plus pitch. Brigham has been used as a starter at the lower levels, with a 6.93 ERA in 49.1 innings in high-A in 2010, along with a 7.1 K/9 and a 4.7 BB/9. He might be best as a relief prospect, although it would be a big jump taking him from high-A to the majors and expecting him to stick.
Wilfredo Boscan, Texas Rangers
Boscan also worked as a starter in high-A in 2010, although he doesn’t have as good of an arm as Brigham. Boscan throws 88-92 MPH, with room to increase that velocity due to his loose arm movement. In 2010 he put up a 4.67 ERA in 163.2 innings, with a 7.1 K/9 and a 2.2 BB/9 ratio. He’s even more unlikely to make the jump to the majors from high-A than Brigham, as he doesn’t have the strong arm to help him out.
Brad Meyers, Washington Nationals
Meyers was limited to six starts in 2010 due to a foot injury. In those six starts at the AA level he put up a 1.47 ERA, along with a 10.3 K/9 and a 2.1 BB/9 ratio. He works in the 88-90 MPH range with his fastball, touching 92. He has a four pitch mix, although none of the pitches grade out as better than average. His fastball is effective due to command and deception in his delivery. He’s unlikely to stick in the majors all year, and his upside is only a back of the rotation starter.
LEFT HANDED PITCHERS
Jeremy Horst, Cincinnati Reds
Horst moved to the bullpen in 2010, working between high-A, AA, and finishing off with 14.1 innings in AAA, including two starts. In his time in AA he put up a 2.09 ERA in 43 innings, with a 9.6 K/9, a 1.9 BB/9, and a 0.2 HR/9. At the AAA level he had a 2.51 ERA in 14.1 innings, with a 7.5 K/9 and a 3.1 BB/9. Horst pitched in the Arizona Fall League, with a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings, and a 9:6 K/BB ratio. His fastball sits in the 88-90 MPH range. He might work best as a LOOGY long term, with a .190 BAA versus left handers in the AFL, compared to a .304 against right handers.
Tim Collins, Kansas City Royals
Collins split the 2010 season between three organizations. He started as the 19th best prospect in the Toronto system, and the top left handed relief prospect. Collins pitched 43 innings at the AA level with Toronto, putting up a 2.51 ERA, along with an impressive 15.3 K/9 and a 3.3 BB/9 ratio. He moved to Atlanta in the Alex Gonzalez/Yunel Escobar trade, and pitched eight innings, with a 1.12 ERA, a 15.8 K/9, and a 3.4 BB/9. Collins was moved to the Royals at the trade deadline, where he made the jump to AAA. He posted a 1.33 ERA in 20.1 innings the remainder of the season, with a 9.3 K/9 and a 3.5 BB/9. Collins has a fastball that tops out at 93 MPH, with a 12-to-6 curveball, making his strikeout numbers legit. He could compete for a regular bullpen role in the majors in 2011.
Update: Collins isn’t eligible.
Wilkins Arias, New York Yankees
Arias has worked at the AA level the last two years, combining for a 3.88 ERA in 137 innings, with a 10.0 K/9 and a 4.1 BB/9. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, topping out at 95. He’s more of a LOOGY option if he can make the jump to the majors, although his control is a concern.
Kasey Kiker, Texas Rangers
Kiker was the sixth best prospect in the Texas Rangers system heading in to the 2010 season, but was limited to 40 innings at the AA level due to poor performance. Kiker had a 7.65 ERA, with a 42:46 K/BB ratio. He’s rebounded in Winter Ball, with a 2.33 ERA in 19.1 innings, and an 18:8 K/BB ratio. Kiker used to throw 95-96 MPH, but fell to 90-93 MPH in 2009, and was around the high-80s at the end of the 2009 season. Kiker is a bounce back candidate, and at 22, there’s a chance he could regain the form that made him a top prospect, although he would be hard to protect as a Rule 5 guy, especially with no time above the AA level.