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Rule 5 History Not In Perdomo's Favor

Luis Perdomo (Photo by Bill Mitchell) Luis Perdomo (Photo by Bill Mitchell)[/caption]

SAN DIEGO—It has been ugly and at times painful, but the Padres are determined to keep Luis Perdomo on their roster despite his 9.50 ERA, 2.28 WHIP and his walk rate of 4.8 batters per nine innings.

The reason is Perdomo is a Rule 5 draft pick. The 23-year-old righthander must be kept on the Padres' 25-man roster or offered back to his original team, the Cardinals. The Padres are banking on Perdomo’s long-term ability, projecting the 6-foot-2 Dominican will be a key pitcher for them down the road, even as he takes his lumps now. He never pitched above high Class A before this season, and is merely going through developmental growing pains in the organization’s eyes.

“As a young guy who just pitched in A-ball last year, there’s a heck of a learning curve,” Padres manager Andy Green said during a recent homestand. “I see three plus pitches. I see 94-98 (mph fastballs). I see a live arm that misses right now over the middle of the plate, and as he gets more experience he’s going to miss corners a lot more and that will be better. I see a guy whose pitches play, and it’s just a matter of finding them at the right time and in the right part of the zone.”

It’s a positive sentiment, but nearly 20 years of Rule 5 draft data shows the Padres’ optimism about Perdomo’s future, and thus his justification of a roster spot, is misplaced.

Since 1997, 19 pitchers who had never previously pitched above high Class A were selected in a Rule 5 draft and kept on a major league roster for either part or all of the following season under Rule 5 restrictions. In 12 of the 19 cases, or 63 percent, the player never pitched more than a dozen games in the majors again after that initial Rule 5 year. The few that did largely failed to have impactful careers, with two notable exceptions.

2000Johan Santana, lhpTwins2130 G, 6.49 ERA12-year career, four-time All-Star, two-time Cy Young winner
2000Derrick Turnbow, rhpAngels2224 G, 4.74 ERASeven-year major league career, 4.30 ERA
2001Scott Chiasson, rhpCubs236 G, 2.70 ERAPitched four more games in majors rest of career
2001Jose Nunez, lhpDodgers/Padres2262 G, 4.58 ERAPitched one more game in majors rest of career
2002Miguel Asencio, rhpRoyals2131 G, 5.11 ERAPitched 11 more games in majors rest of career
2002Jorge Sosa, rhpRays2431 G, 5.53 ERANine-year major league career, 4.72 ERA
2002Steven Kent, lhpRays2334 G, 5.65 ERASent to minors, never reached majors again
2003Wil Ledezma, lhpTigers2234 G, 5.79 ERANine-year major league career, 5.40 ERA
2003Matt Ford, lhpBrewers2225 G, 4.33 ERASent to minors, never reached majors again
2005Andy Sisco, lhpRoyals2267 G, 3.11 ERAPosted 7.34 ERA in parts of two more ML seasons
2006Fabio Castro, lhpRangers/Phillies2120 G, 2.27 ERAPitched 10 more games in majors rest of career
2007Joakim Soria, rhpRoyals2362 G, 2.48 ERAIn ninth MLB season, two-time All-Star
2007Jay Marshall, rhpAthletics2451 G, 6.43 ERAPitched 10 more games in majors rest of career
2009David Patton, rhpCubs2520 G, 6.83 ERASent to minors, never reached majors again
2011Nate Adcock, rhpRoyals2324 G, 4.62 ERAPitched 32 more games over parts of three ML seasons
2011Mason Tobin, rhpRangers234 G, 6.75 ERASent to minors, never reached majors again
2012Lendy Castillo, rhpCubs2313 G, 7.88 ERASent to minors, active with 3.07 ERA in AA
2014Wei-Chung Wang, lhpBrewers2214 G, 10.90 ERASent to minors, active with 4.61 ERA in AA
2015Jason Garcia, rhpOrioles2221 G, 4.25 ERASent to minors, active with 5.50 ERA in AA

Of course, even the smallest chance Perdomo is like one of the two exceptions—Santana and Soria—could make him worth keeping.

However, there are issues with those comparisons. Soria, for one, pitched three seasons and 190 innings in the Mexican League—which is equivalent to Triple-A—and posted an 3.46 ERA prior to being taken in the Rule 5 draft. His experience and development level were well beyond Perdomo’s at the time he was selected.

Santana, meanwhile, was two years younger and performed significantly better than Perdomo in his first MLB season, with a 6.49 ERA and 1.814 WHIP for the Twins. As poor as those numbers were, they are more than 20 percent lower than Perdomo’s figures. Keep in mind, Perdomo has actually posted a higher ERA at the major league level than all but one of his 19 predecessors, including a few who were younger than he is in their debut season.

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Simply put, even by the low standard of Rule 5 pitchers making the jump from high Class A or below to the majors, Perdomo is performing poorly. The Padres have shown every intention of keeping Perdomo on their roster. At this point, however, the data and history just aren’t there to suggest it’s a wise choice.

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