Wrapping Up The 2015 Rule 5 Draft

Ask BA

Chris Devenski's changeup of death worked well for the Astros in 2016
Chris Devenski’s changeup of death worked well for the Astros in 2016

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Q:Now that the season is over how did this Rule 5 draft compare to most and who from this class has the best chance to make a long-term impact?

Bryan Ramsey

Chicago, Ill.

BA:
Only five players made it through the 2016 season without being offered back to their original team. That’s down dramatically from last year when 11 players stuck with their new teams (technically 2014 Rule 5 pick righthander Daniel Winkler has yet to fully fulfill his active roster requirements thanks to Tommy John surgery and a fractured elbow).

With only 31 percent of the 16 players picked remaining with their new clubs, it’s the lowest success rate for a Major League Rule 5 draft since the 2010 draft when five of 19 players picked stuck. But overall, the five success stories is right in line with a typical Rule 5 draft. Over the past decade 53 Major League Rule 5 picks have not been offered back to their original team, an average of just over five per year.

The five two stick this year includes a pair of part-time outfielders–Tyler Goeddel (Phillies) and Joey Rickard (Orioles)–a pair of minor league starters who became useful big league relievers–Joe Biagini (Blue Jays) and Matt Bowman (Cardinals)–and a developmental reliever/starter in Luis Perdomo (Padres).

Biagini and Bowman made the biggest impacts in 2016.

The Biagini and Bowman picks are the ones that may create a new template. Both were useful minor league starters with average stuff, but both saw their stuff tick up as relievers. The minors are filled with starters with average stuff and above-average control. Not all will become useful relievers with a move to the bullpen, but there are a number who could fit the Bowman/Biagini profile.

In Bowman’s case it let him focus on his strengths more–a two-seam fastball with sink. With Biagini, he’s still using his curveball, changeup and slider, but in shorter stints his fastball ticked up from average to plus. He struck out 5.8 per nine innings in Double-A in 2015 but struck out 8.25 per nine for the Blue Jays in 2016.

Long-term, Bowman and Biagini are the safest bets to be productive big leaguers for years to come, both as lower-leverage relievers.

But the player who stuck who has the highest ceiling is Perdomo. Perdomo jumped straight from low Class A to the big leagues because of Rule 5 roster requirements. He found himself struggling to keep up during the first half of the season–he went 3-4, 7.48 in the first half. But a move to the rotation in the second half saw him start to catch up to the much more advanced level of competition. Perdomo was 6-6, 4.30 after the all-star break. He cut his walk rate nearly in half in the second half to 2.1 BB/9 and worked at least five innings in his final 12 starts of the year.

Perdomo wasn’t ready for the big leagues in 2016. But he survived the experience and has the stuff to develop into a useful starter or reliever. It’s risky to expect him to ever put it all together, but if it does, he’s a potential mid-rotation starter.

What was also notable about the 2015 Rule 5 draft is who wasn’t picked.

The Astros left righthander Chris Devenski unprotected and saw him slide through unpicked. Devenski ended up making the Astros’ Opening Day roster and stuck in the big leagues all season, proving to be better than any of the players who were taken in the Rule 5 draft. The Red Sox left Sandy Leon unprotected and sent him to Triple-A to start the season. But he was quickly recalled and hit a surprising .310/.369/.476 in 78 games with the Red Sox. Padres infielder Ryan Schimpf signed as a minor league free agent in late November, had a great first-half with Triple-A El Paso and proved to be a surprisingly productive low-average, big power second baseman for San Diego in the second half. Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph put a series of injuries behind him to hit .257/.308/.505 with 21 home runs.

With the exceptions of Devenski, Leon and Joseph, the majority of players on this all-unprotected team spent significant time in the minors this year, so it can be argued that they wouldn’t have developed as well if they were forced to spend the entire season in the majors. But it’s notable that Leon, Charlie Culberson, Andrew Toles, Gorkys Hernandez, T.J. Rivera, Ty Kelly and Grant Dayton all made postseason rosters.

Teoscar Hernandez, Rivera and Devenski were on the Baseball America pre-draft list of players to watch.

ALL-UNPROTECTED TEAM

C: Sandy Leon, Red Sox

1B: Tommy Joseph, Phillies

2B: Ryan Schimpf, Padres

SS: T.J. Rivera, Mets

3B: Ty Kelly, Mets

CIF: Rob Segedin, Dodgers

MIF: Charlie Culberson, Dodgers

LF: Tyler Austin, Yankees

CF: Andrew Toles, Dodgers

RF: Teoscar Hernandez, Astros

OF: Gorkys Hernandez, Giants

IF/OF: Whit Merrifield, Royals

SP: Tim Adleman, Reds

SP: Albert Suarez, Giants

RP: Chris Devenski, Astros

RP: Zach Neal, Athletics

RP: Brent Suter, Brewers

RP: Hunter Cervenka, Braves/Marlins

RP: Brooks Pounders, Royals

RP: Grant Dayton, Dodgers

RP: Alex Wimmers, Twins

Here’s what happened for all 16 major league Rule 5 picks from last December’s draft.

Tyler Goeddell, of: Hit .192/.258/.291 as part-time Phillies outfielder

Jake Cave, of: Returned to Yankees

Evan Rutckyj, lhp: Returned to Yankees

Luis Perdomo, rhp: 9-10, 5.71 in 147 innings with Padres

Colin Walsh, 2b: Returned to A’s after hitting .085/.317/.106 in 47 at-bats with Brewers

Jabari Blash, of: Offered back to Mariners, who sold his contract to Padres for cash considerations

Josh Martin, rhp: Returned to Indians

Joey Rickard, of: Hit .268/.319/.377 for Orioles as part-time outfielder

Deolis Guerra, rhp: Elected free agency, re-signed with Angels on minor league deal. Went 3-0, 3.21 for Angels.

Joe Biagini, rhp: 4-3, 3.06 in 68 innings for Blue Jays. Playing a significant role in Blue Jays’ playoff bullpen.

Matt Bowman, rhp: 2-5, 3.46 in 68 innings with Cardinals.

Daniel Stumpf, lhp: Returned to Royals after 50-game PED suspension and 0-0, 10.80 record in five innings.

Chris O’Grady, lhp: Returned to Angels

Zack Jones, rhp: Returned to Twins

Blake Smith, rhp: Returned to White Sox

Ji-Man Choi, 1b: Returned to Orioles, but Angels retained him after Orioles declined to pay $25,000 for his return. Hit .170/.271/.339 for Angels.

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