Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hot Stove Update: Scouting the Rule 5 Draft

As most of you know, I am not a big fan of the Rule 5 draft, which to me seems like a redundancy to minor league free agency.  In addition, the way it is set up often ends up harming the players involved, IMO, at least as often as it helps them.  On the other hand, the Rule 5 draft is a reality and rarely there are player bargains to be found there.  The Giants have both lost and gained significant players through the Rule 5 draft.  In recent years, they have been particularly active in the minor league phases of the draft, which have different rules in that you do not have to keep the drafted player at any specific level to keep them.

I am sure most of you are aware of how the Rule 5 draft works, but here is a quick summary.  Minor league players with a certain amount of service time must be added to the 40 man MLB roster or else they can be drafted in the Rule 5 draft by another team.  A drafted player must then be kept on the 25 man active roster for the entire season or else be offered back to his original team.  The minor league phases work the same way except that teams can protect more players and a drafted player does not have to be kept at any particular level all season.  The purpose of the Rule 5 draft is to prevent teams that are rich in prospects from stashing them in the minors indefinitely.

The service time for Rule 5 eligibility was extended by 1 season in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the MLBPA.  It is now 4 years for college draftees and 5 years for most high school draftees and international FA signees. In the first 2 years after the service time was extended, the bottom dropped out of the quality of draft pool.  Quality seems to have rebounded a bit this year as there is a reasonably long list of interesting prospects who would have a reasonable chance of sticking and even contributing to an active MLB roster available.  For a complete rundown of who is available in the 2014 Rule 5 draft pool, there is a non-subscription article in the Baseball America website linked to the left.  For this post, I am going to focus on outfielders, third basemen and pitchers as those are the areas where the Giants have potential openings on the 25 man roster.


Delino DeShields, Astros, 21 yo, 5'9", 210 lbs, B-R, T-R, AA- .236/.346/.360, 11 HR, 54 SB, 11 CS. Recognizable name.  4.5 tools with plus speed.  Can take a walk. The rap on him is lack of hustle as he has been benched several times for failing to run out ground balls.  Won't turn 22 until August.

Jose Tabata, Pirates, 25 yo, 5'11", 210 lbs, B-R, T-R.  MLB- .282/.314/.333.  AAA- .281/.337/.349.  Tabata is another recognizable name. Once upon a time he was one of the most highly touted prospects in baseball, mostly by Yankee fans.  His power never developed and once promising speed disappeared, but will hit for some average.  Some have suspected that he is older than is stated age, but that seems to be all sorted out now.  Tabata is in a unique position in that he has a MLB contract that will pay him $8.5 M over the next two seasons even though he is off the Pirates 40 man roster.  Potential drafting teams probably do not want to take on the contract.  He would come cheaply in a trade without the Rule 5 restrictions and the Pirates might even chip in for some of the salary.  He is from Venezuela and the Giants seem to have a connection to that country.

Jared Mitchell, White Sox, 26 yo, 6'0", 205 lbs, B-L, T-L.  AAA- .230/.360/.375, 9 HR, 11 SB.  AA- .299/.367/.561, 10 HR, 4 SB.  Yet another recognizable name.  Former first round draft pick out of LSU.  Mitchell is a true 5 tool talent.  His pro career was interrupted by a bad ankle injury.  Big rap on him is his strikeout rate of over 30% but he also walks at a 15% rate.  Still may have tremendous upside even at age 26.  Man, I would really like to see the Giants take a flyer on him if he is still there when their turn to draft comes up.  I would think he would go earlier though.

Zach Borenstein, D'Backs, 24 yo, 6'0", 225 lbs, B-L, T-R.  Borenstein played both AA and AAA for 2  organizations last year as he was traded from the Angels to the D'Backs for Joe Saunders.  He hit for a combined .256 with 15 HR's for 4 different teams.  Hit .337 with 28 HR's for Inland Empire in the High A Cal League in 2013.  I don't know anything about his D, but I saw him play in San Bernardino in 2013 and dude can seriously rake!  BA has him listed in the category of too big a jump, but he did play a total of a half season for two AAA teams last year.  Again, some team could be getting a serious hitter at essentially no risk if they take him in the Rule 5 draft.

Whit Merrifield, Royals, 25 yo, 6'1", 175 lbs, B-R, T-R.  AAA- .340/.373/.474, 28 2B, 3 HR, 11 SB.  listed as 2B/OF.  High AAA BA was largely BABIP driven, but he is a good contact hitter with gap power.


Third Basemen:

Matt Skole, Nationals, 6'3", 225 lbs, B-L, T-R.  AA- .241/.352/.399, 14 HR.  Once considered a top prospect, hit 27 HR's in 2012.  Missed most of 2013 due to injury and got off to a slow start to 2014.  Seems like a no-risk move to draft him and see what he shows in spring training.


Starting Pitchers:

Cody Martin, Braves, RHP, 25 yo, 6'3", 230 lbs.  AAA- 7-8, 3.52, 156 IP, 8.12 K/9, 3.12 BB/9, 1.25 GO/AO.  Strong AAA numbers, and nice size but does not have elite stuff.  Probably does not offer a lot more than a Chris Heston.

Greg Peavey, Mets, RHP, 26 yo, 6'2", 185 lbs.  AA- 11-3, 2.90, 115 IP, 7.75 K/9, 2.25 BB/9.  Recognizable name.  Terrific AA numbers but got torched for a 11.62 ERA in AAA Las Vegas.  Shut down the Flying Squirrels in the EL playoffs, but nothing really to brag about there.  92-94 MPH FB.

Logan Verrett, Mets, RHP, 24 yo, 6'2", 190 lbs.  AAA- 11-5, 4.33, 162 IP, 34 BB, 119 K, 1.74 GO/AO.  Nice numbers for Las Vegas, but "lacks a true plus pitch."


Relief Pitchers:

Edgar De La Rosa, Tigers, 24 yo, RHP, 6'8", 235 lbs.  High A-  7-9, 3.30, 139 IP, 53 BB, 91 K, GO/AO= 1.21.  De La Rosa was a starter in high A ball, but would be a reliever if he made  the jump to the majors now.  Not big with K's, but throws extremely hard, regularly touching 100 MPH.  One scout said he goes to the mound with a 7 FB every time!  Also has a pretty good changeup to go with it.  Big dude!

Jarlin Garcia, Marlins, 21 yo, LHP, 6'2", 170 lbs.  Low A- 10-5, 4.38, 133.2 IP, 21 BB, 111 K, GO/AO= 2.24.  Sports a FB that goes 91-94 MPH with a curve to back it up.  Extreme GB pitchers with a solid K rate.  Starter in low A who could probably contribute as a reliever at the MLB level now.

Mychal Givens, Orioles, 23 yo, RHP, 6'0", 207 lbs.  AA- 0-0, 3.91, 25.1 IP, 23 BB, 28 K, GO/AO= 4.25.  High A- 1-2, 3.24, 33.1 IP, 16 BB, 27 K, GO/AO= 2.50.  Former highly touted SS prospect, now converted to pitcher.  FB goes 93-95, obviously with serious sink.  Has a solid slider to back it up.

Jandal Gustave, Astros, 22 yo RHP, 6'2", 170 lbs.  Low A- 5-5, 5.01, 79 IP, 29 BB, 82 K, GO/AO= 1.84.  FB touches 100 MPH.  Could probably survive as a reliever in a MLB bullpen now.

Gregory Infante, Blue Jays, 26 yo, RHP, 6'2", 215 lbs.  AA- 0-1, 1.86, 38.2 IP, 16 BB, 34 K's, GO/AO= 1.34, 22 Saves.  AAA- 2-1, 2.35, 7.2 IP, 2 BB, 10 K.  9 year minor league veteran with 4 innings of MLB experience under his belt with the ChiSox all the way back in 2010.  Despite 9  years in the minors, he is still just 26 yo.  Reportedly pitching well in the VWL which the Giants have been known to scout heavily and find diamonds in the rough.  He just seems to fit the profile of the type of player the Giants have signed and had success with.  If I had to bet on one player that they may be targeting in the Rule 5 draft, this would be the guy!

There are at least 10 other potential reliever types, several of whom reportedly touch triple digits with the heater, available which seem to be the most likely ones to stick and contribute on a MLB team for a full season.

Josh Osich seems to be the Giants prospect most likely to be drafted but there are so many reliever types available, I will be surprised if he goes.  Do you have any players in mind who the Giants might go after in this Rule 5 draft?


  1. Snag Wheeler! lol. I kinda like the idea of trying a Rule 5 guy. The worst that happens is we return him. Giants try out guys each year from minor league deals anyway. If one can't break camp, then that's that, right? But realistically, Giants don't do Rule 5 and we haven't a roster spot.

    The BA article mentions one of the names I was thinking of, as a 'stash' guy while he rehabs (Stilson). Easier to keep one of these guys, but harder to figure if he'll ever be valuable enough to bother. A few guys might warrant that consideration. And I was excited when I first learned we'd signed De Paula last winter. I thought it was Rafael De Paula, not Jose. Kaleb Cowart, anybody? Some "big" draft names on that list. Levi Michael, Kentrail Davis, Hobgood, Tate... I'd add four names as suggestions:

    LHRP Cody Wheeler, ARI
    RHRP Steve Ames, TB or John Stilson, TOR.
    3B TJ Rivera, NYM or Matt Skole, WAS (as you mentioned).

  2. So can the Giants work out a trade for Tabata before the Rule 5 draft? He might be had pretty cheaply and could make an interesting platoon partner with fellow Venezuelan Blanco.

    1. He has a negative defensive WAR from Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. His record suggests that he would be a serviceable player for the Giants but not more.

    2. Yeah, I don't see Tabata as being an upgrade on Juan Perez let alone Gregor Blanco. I put his name and profile up mainly due to the curiosity of a player who was that highly rated and currently has a MLB contract being Rule 5 eligible.

  3. Not a Rule 5 guy, but looks like Gordon Beckham may be available should we fall short on a Panda replacement.

    -0.2 WAR last year(actually played better in LA after the trade though).

    I think that a EA/Arias/Matt Duffy! option would work-just curious as to your thoughts on Beckham.


    1. Beckham definitely has more power upside than any of the EA/Arias/Duffy trio. Giants should definitely kick the tires if he is non-tendered.

    2. Thanks!


  4. Jose Tabata isn't a guy I'd be spending money and/or prospects on. wOBA of .287. He's not shown he can't hit much. Blanco is better, IMO. None of that is good news for Tabata. Plus, Blanco hits LHP's pretty well. And Perez has always hit RHP better.

    Beckham profiles very closely between Hicks and Colvin, IMO. With better defense. No way would I be okay with a .274 wOBA as a starter, and IMO our bench doesn't need a guy like that either.

    If we were going to look for a Rule 5, might as well gamble BIG, eh? That guy could be Jabari Blash (SEA). Or Noe Ramirez (BOS). Either we get big production from the jump, or we ship him back whence he came. I like the risk of trying a guy. The nearly unimaginable upside (so infrequent that this works out) is getting 7 years of team controlled salary on a good player.

    Well, the Giants don't seem to Rule 5- not since Eugenio Velez. lol. So I figure we're not even in this game anyway. Just my opinions. I figure others go for names they "know" from some MLB service time. Sorry if I'm jumping in here, sure, opinions may vary. Cheers.

  5. 3B -- Mark Canha. Nominally a 1B prospect for the Marlins, he's part of a numbers game. Supposedly has the tools necessary to play both corner spots and LF.

  6. Apparently the Giants have already checked out of the MLB phase of the Rule 5 draft as the 40 man roster is full. Some of these players are also minor league FA's though and the Giants sometimes take a player or two in the minor league phase, but the pickings are usually a lot slimmer down there.