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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?
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.
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.