With the Rule 5 Draft coming up on the last day of the Winter Meetings December 9th, the list of eligible names this year is perhaps the deepest it has been in recent memory. From a pitching standpoint, there are rarely notable starting pitchers available during the Rule 5 Draft, but a plethora of relief arms of all ages are usually available for the taking. The problem with minor league relievers though, is that it is tough to gauge whether or not they will have success at the Major League level based on their minor league statistics.
That being said, it is usually not as much of a problem when there are opportunities to pick up an arm at virtually no cost like in the Rule 5 Draft. Conveniently the Jays have some openings in the bullpen right now, so the Rule 5 Draft seems to be the perfect opportunity to add at least one potentially decent arm for 2011.
Here’s a look at some of the most notable Rule 5 Draft-eligible pitchers that are available, with their 2010 MLB parent club in parentheses:
RHP Michael Dubee (Pirates):
Drafted in 2004, 2005, and 2006, Dubee has been dominant in the minors the last two seasons. The 6’3” reliever finished 2010 6-2 with a 2.21 ERA in 77.1 innings, and his respectable 7.9 K/9 was actually below his career average (8.3 K/9). He posted a 7.2 H/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 2010, and has logged at least 71.1 innings in each of the last four seasons.
The only concern would be that he has pitched only one inning above Double-A, but he’s still only 24-years-old and could be a nice steal for the Jays.
RHP Pedro Beato (Orioles):
Initially drafted by the Mets in the 17th round in 2005, the 6’6”, 230 lb. Beato was a 1st round pick of the Orioles (32nd overall) in the 2006 draft. A starter for his entire career, Beato was shifted to a relief role in 2010.
The conversion definitely paid off, as he finished 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 59.2 innings, giving up only 4 home runs while walking 19. He posted the lowest H/9 of his career (7.4), and his lowest K/9 since his rookie season in 2006 (7.5).
Still relatively young at 24-years-old as well, Beato has never pitched above the Double-A level.
RHP Justin Miller (Dodgers):
Drafted by the Dodgers in the 6th round of the 2007 draft, Miller ranks the youngest on this list at 23-years-old. Similar to Pedro Beato, Miller had been a starter his whole professional pitching career until he was experimented with as a reliever in 2010.
The results were decent, and they earned him a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga in the process. In 2010, Miller finished 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA in 77 innings pitched between Single-A and Double-A. Miller’s not as overpowering as others (career 5.2 K/9), and his walk total this year was not the greatest, but he still could be an option worth taking a look at.
LHP Douglas Arguello (Astros):
The only starting pitcher on this list, the 6-foot-3 Arguello showed promise in 2010. After finishing 2009 strong after his promotion to Double-A, the left-handed Arguello spent all of 2010 with AA Corpus Christi.
He recorded the best season of his career so far, finishing 7-5 with a 2.55 ERA in 127 innings. His 0.3 HR/9 tied a career-low, and his 7.1 K/9 was his highest in five seasons. The Nicaragua native could be a great Rule 5 selection, but it’s hard to imagine the Jays selecting him and keeping him in the already crowded 2011 rotation for the entire season.
RHP Jay Buente (Marlins):
A 14th round pick by the Marlins in 2006, Buente has never posted an ERA higher than 3.75 in any full season of his professional career. Even though he has given up more walks recently than in the past, he still managed to post identical 3.14 ERAs in 2009 and 2010.
His Triple-A stats in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League are of particular interest though, because he has more experience at the Triple-A level than anyone else on this list.
In 91.1 innings pitched in 2009 and 2010 with Triple-A New Orleans, the right-handed Buente gave up 32 earned runs (3.16 ERA), 9 home runs, 50 walks, and racked up 94 strikeouts (9.3 K/9). Being one of the more proven players in the upper minors could prove beneficial for the 6’2”, 27-year-old Buente.
LHP Jeremy Horst (Reds):
Drafted in the 21st round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2007, Horst makes this list as the only left-handed reliever. Across 3 levels of the minor leagues in 2010, Horst managed a combined 2.62 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 72 innings. The 26-year-old actually posted a better ERA in Double-A and Triple-A than he did in Hi-A this past season.
His durable 6’4”, 220-pound frame, combined with his overall 2.2 BB/9 and 9.4 K/9 in 2010 could make Horst a solid pick in this year’s draft.
RHP Adam Carr (Nationals):
After posting relatively ugly 2008 and 2009 seasons, Carr rebounded in 2010 and earned a promotion to Triple-A Syracuse. Carr finished the season 6-2 overall with a combined 2.75 ERA in 72 innings spread across AA and AAA. Carr had his lowest walk total in four seasons, and only gave up 3 home runs all season. He managed a tidy 2.08 ERA in Triple-A while striking out 19 in 21.2 innings as well, and could have an outside chance of getting selected in this year’s Rule 5 Draft.
I’ll have an update on notable position players worth taking in this year’s Rule 5 Draft soon!