LAS VEGAS—Catching up on a few news & notes before Thursday’s Rule 5 draft, which begins at 12 p.m. ET:
• Rule 5 buzz remains faint, but that doesn’t mean teams will sit out the draft. Most writers and scouts we talked to Wednesday in the Bellagio think 10-12 players will be picked. The Rockies could be the hardest-hit club, as rumors persist of players such as righthander David Patton, infielders Corey Wimberly and Everth Cabrera, and outfielder Matt Miller could be picked.
Cabrera, like Wimberly listed at 5-foot-8, is less experienced than Wimberly but has more juice offensively and more upside; he also played in low Class A in 2008, while Wimberly was in Double-A and has played in the Arizona Fall League. Cabrera, a Nicaraguan, increased his value by showing enough range and arm in a second-half trial at shortstop to make it an option as well. Rockies special assistant Walt Weiss has likened Cabrera to a young Rafael Furcal, and Furcal jumped from A-ball to the big leagues back in 2000. [...] Continue Reading »
LAS VEGAS—Usually, scouts, front-office types and media schmooze and meet informally in the lobbies and bars of hotels during the Winter Meetings. At the Bellagio, though, nothing is routine. Baseball officials are spread out throughout the lobby, the casino, the bars—they all run together here.
If there’s a buzz, it’s almost impossible to hear over the music, the background noise of the casino machines and the buzz of the crowd of gamblers passing through.
Industry types say there isn’t a ton of Rule 5 buzz anyway. The rules changes prior to last year, adding an extra year of protection for teams to keep players. Under the old rules, 2005 high school draft picks and 2006 college picks would have had to be protected (and most international players signed in ’04 as well). Prep pitchers such as Sean West (Marlins), Chaz Roe (Rockies), Brandon Erbe (Orioles) and Will Inman (Padres) would have to be protected but are not on 40-man rosters. That leaves more room to protect fringy players who otherwise might not have made the cut.
Similarly, the Pirates don’t have to make a 40-man call on 2006 first-rounder Brad Lincoln, who has missed a year with Tommy John surgery, and the Indians can wait on corner infielder Wes Hodges, who can hit but hasn’t shown he can handle third base.
That has left a thinner talent pool to choose from. The ’06 Rule 5 yielded stars such as Josh Hamilton and Joakim Soria, but the top talents in the ’07 class were players such as outfielder Brian Barton, who stuck all year with the Cardinals; knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, whom the Mariners swung a trade to keep; and lefthander Wesley Wright, who stuck as a reliever with the Astros.
Observations and (often irreverent) notes from the major league portion of Thursday’s Rule 5 draft.
• Lefthander Wesley Wright was the odd man out of the Dodgers 40-man roster crunch, and it was no surprise that he was drafted in the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. The Astros selected him with the eighth pick of the first round.
Wright ranked among the Dodgers’ top 30 prospects in the 2007 Prospect Handbook, and was poised to climb near their top 20 this year after another solid season in 2007. Wright, who turns 23 next month, split 2007 between Double-A and Triple-A and finished his season with 16 consecutive scoreless innings out of Double-A Jacksonville’s bullpen. He pitches off an 88-91 mph fastball that he has deft command of. His solid-average spike-curveball is his best secondary pitch, but his best attributes are his good feel for pitching and consistency, two things that major league managers covet. As a middle reliever or situational man, his ceiling is modest, but the Astros can use him right away. [...] Continue Reading »
The whole Rule 5 draft doesn’t do it for a lot of the writers here; obviously we get excited about it while realizing it’s not a huge deal. But the Double-A phase had little pizzazz; the Diamondbacks made a move for a name I know, taking first baseman Baltazar Lopez, a lefthanded-swinging Mexican national. Pretty sure Lopez once ranked among the Angels’ top 30 prospects because of his hit tool, and he hit .273 with a team-best 12 RBIs and two homers for Mexico in the World Cup.
Six picks in the Double-A phase, and we’re done. Now the reporting phase of the Rule 5 begins as opposed to the blogging phase. Keep it here, we’ll have commentary and analysis and more news (there is more news, with trades to be announced) coming up.
Thirty-six players picked; the Double-A phase has begun. I’m going to keep my ears open for intersting names but frankly the biggest names I heard late in the Triple-A phase were guys like Luke Appert (former all-Big 10 player) and righty Ben Fritz, a part of the A’s "Moneyball" draft, toward the end of the draft. The Double-A phase is passing rather uneventfully, in terms of names that I can recall. The Rangers took Francisco Cordova in the minor league phase, out of the Angels system, but I don’t think he’s the same guy the Pirates had in the late ’90s. Teams are passing left and right; very uneventful Double-A phase, not many picks at all. Looking at single digits.
Shortstop Smelin Perez goes to the Marlins (from the Pirates), while the Reds take Juan Apodaca from the Dodgers system. RHP Santo Luis of the Astros goes to the White Sox, then the Nats pass. Apodaca hit eight homers at low Class A Great Lakes and slugged .415, well over the Midwest League average, while Luis had 99 strikeouts in 75 innings at low Class A Lexington. Hey, it’s the Triple-A phase; why not?
We’ll have more later but we need to confirm these names, but one highlight of these proceedings is watching Josh Boyd announce the Rangers picks. He was covering this event for us five years ago, now he’s announcing the picks. Nice. And now the Rangers just took Clayton Hamilton from the Pirates, saving him from the Pirates medical staff that misdiagnosed Hamilton’s cracked rib for a muscle strain. Hamilton had to have the rib removed this offseason.
Again, we’ll have the complete Triple-A phase up soon when we have the names spelled correctly and can do it intelligently.
Here comes the minor league phase, Triple-A phase first.
Rays select Rashad Eldridge, outfielder, from the Twins system. Then the Pirates take righthander Josh Hill, from — surprise! — the Twins. Lefthander Ray Liotta, who has had offseason shoulder surgery, goes third to the Royals. The Orioles take lefty Ryan Rodriguez, Liotta’s former teammate in the White Sox organization, and the Giants round out the top five with Padres shortstop Juan Ciriaco.
Everyone passing in the second round but the Nationals go again, taking Garrett Guzman from the Twins. Wow, the Twins are losing some guys. Guzman’s another guy from Chris’ preview. Again, he was on it.
The Padres took Callix Crabbe from the Brewers system in the second round, but we’re almost done it would seem. The Phillies took Lincoln Holdkom, a hard-throwing righty from the Red Sox that Boston thought it might lose, but certainly didn’t fear losing.
The third round has no picks, 18 selections in the major league phase overall, and we’re done. Commentary to come.
The Twins lose another player, but it’s Triple-A veteran R.A. Dickey; the Mariners took him. The Mets then took Rockies closer prospect Steven Register from the Rockies. Mike Gardner, who has a low 90s fastball, goes to the Padres; Gardner was in the Yankees organization. The Phillies took Aussie lefty Travis Blackley; I’m guessing they saw him good in the World Cup last month. The Rockies passed, and the Diamondbacks , Indians and Red Sox did likewise. Round One is done.
Brian Barton to the Cardinals; the Twins pass, first team to do so, followed by the Dodgers. The Blue Jays took Randy Wells from the Cubs organization, the first player I can’t think of anything to blog about.
Matt Whitney to the Nats, and the Astros take Wes Wright from the Dodgers, a lefthander. The picks are coming fast and furious, too fast for commentary right now, but no bombshells yet. Tim Lahey I can blog on a bit while we have a pause; he wasn’t making the Twins’ Top 30 prospects that I was working on yesterday in my hotel room. But we hear he’s getting traded to the Cubs.
Oakland just took White Sox righty Fernando Hernandez from the White Sox. Did Chris Kline have this covered in the preview or what?
Randor Bierd goes third to the Orioles; lefty Jose Capellan goes to the Giants next. We’ve written up Bierd; Capellan is a young lefty with a bad body but decent stuff who was at Lowell.
Screwballer Carlos Guevara goes to the Marlins, and the Reds follow with Sergio Valenzuela from the Braves organization.
The first pick goes to the Rays taking righthander Tim Lahey from the Twins. He’s a converted catcher from Princeton who throws 90-92 mph with a slider. The Twins also have a connection to the second player picked, as the Pirates took the Rays righthander Evan Meek.
Well, this is far from the ideal setup. The Rule 5 draft is being held in the Presidential Ballroom here at the Opryland Hotel, and as we found out at BA’s annual awards gala, there is no wireless internet access in that room. After trying it again, I was told by the powers that be to listen to the draft online if I wanted to do such a crazy thing. Thanks. Thanks a lot.
So we’re efforting. We’re sitting outside the media work room, listening to the "broadcast" and blogging from here. It’s like Tim Gunn says on Project Runway: Make It Work! Picks about to start . . . Roll call commencing.
NASHVILLE–Word on the street in Music City in advance of Thursday’s Rule 5 draft came fast and furious late Wednesday night.
According to several sources, the Padres are planning on moving up to Tampa Bay’s No. 1 spot to take Indians outfielder Brian Barton. [...] Continue Reading »
NASHVILLE–Astros righthander Brad James will undergo surgery next week to have a screw inserted in his fractured right foot. James will be in a boot for six weeks, and is expected to be ready for spring training.
The 23-year-old went 9-2, 1.98 at high Class A Salem before being promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi, where he finished the regular season with 1-5, 5.17 numbers.
A 2004 29th-rounder, James ended 2007 in the Arizona Fall League, going 1-2, 7.00 in 18 innings. A sinker-slider pitcher, James worked extensively to improve his changeup in the AFL for Mesa.
NASHVILLE–Earlier today, Indians outfielder Brian Barton was the odds-on favorite to go No. 1 in the Rule 5 draft Thursday. But hold the phone.
One source close to the Rays says Tampa Bay will not take Barton, and if they don’t sell their pick like they did last year, it will likely be for a piece to boost their bullpen and not a position player. [...] Continue Reading »
NASHVILLE–OK, so this is a little different than reading about the deal in ‘Trade Central,’ which the specifics of the Miguel Cabrera blockbuster deal will no doubt be broken down shortly and posted for your enjoyment. [...] Continue Reading »
NASHVILLE–After dealing outfielders Elijah Dukes, Delmon Young and Jason Pridie over the past two weeks, the Rays find themselves in a situation that seemed unthinkable in recent years: the need for outfield depth. [...] Continue Reading »
NASHVILLE–We just arrived in Nashville, and it’s time to catch up on the buzz surrounding Thursday’s Rule 5 draft here in Music City. Padres righthander Paul Abraham was the latest name to surface over the weekend, and White Sox righthander Fernando Hernandez continued to build momentum as well. [...] Continue Reading »
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog