On Thursday morning, the MLB held the 2012 edition of its annual Rule 5 Draft.
Thirteen big league clubs participated in the MLB portion of the draft, and about 2/3 of the league made picks in the Triple-A phase.
The only clubs that didn’t make picks were the Yankees, Rays, White Sox, Nationals, Braves and Brewers. Every team but the Yankees and Braves had at least one player drafted
1. Astros select RHP Josh Fields from Red Sox
2. Cubs select RHP Hector Rondon from Indians
3. Rockies select LHP Danny Rosenbaum from Nationals
4. Twins select RHP Ryan Pressly from Red Sox
5. Indians select 1B Chris McGuiness from Rangers
6. Marlins select OF Alfredo Silverio from Dodgers
7. Red Sox select 2B Jeff Kobernus from Nationals
10. Mets select LHP Kyle Lobstein from Rays
14. D’Backs select RHP Starling Peralta from Cubs
15, Phillies select OF Ender Inciarte from D’Backs
17. White Sox select SS Angel Sanchez from Angels
23. Orioles select LHP T.J. McFarland from Indians
24. Rangers select RHP Coty Woods, RHP from Rockies
1. Astros select 1B Nate Freiman from Padres
6. Marlins select LHP Braulio Lara from Rays
Astros: OF Michael Burgess (Cubs)
Twins: 3B, Mark Sobolewski (BlueJays)
Marlins: LHP Tyler Kehrer (Angels)
Red Sox: LHP Jack McGeary (Nationals)
Blue Jays: OF Sawyer Carroll (Padres)
Mariners: 2B Eric Farris (Brewers)
Padres: 3B Diego Goris (Royals)
Pirates: RHP Ethan Hollingsworth (Royals)
Phillies: LHP Brendan Lafferty (Royals)
Dodgers: SS Elevys Gonzalez (Pirates)
Cardinals: 3B, Matt Cerda (Cubs)
Tigers: OF Eliezer Mesa (A’s)
Angels: 1B Robert Widlansky (Orioles)
Orioles: RHP Tom Boleska (Pirates)
Rangers: 3B Marquez Smith (Reds)
A’s: 3B Tommy Mendonca (Rangers)
Giants: RHP Scott Shuman (Rays)
Reds: LHP Ryan Dennick (Royals)
Astros: RHP Cameron Lamb (Giants)
Red Sox: RHP Jon Bachanov (White Sox)
Blue Jays: RHP Alvy Jimenez (Cubs)
Padres: RHP Federico Castaneda (Royals)
Dodgers: RHP Hector Nelo (Nationals)
Cardinals: LHP Jay Voss (Tigers)
A’s: C Steven Hill (Cardinals)
Reds: 2B Michael Gilmartin (A’s)
Blue Jays: LHP Efrain Nieves (Tigers)
Astros (1): Josh Fields (click here for more information on Fields)
Though it was the first pick of the draft, it was arguably the smartest. The Astros took the draft’s best prospect, and a player that could slide in to their bullpen immediately.
Fields is a beast, armed with mid 90′s velocity, a wipeout spike curve, a deceptive delivery and newfound guts. After years of disappointment, the twenty-seven-year-old former first round pick has already dealt with failure and he’s learned to overcome it. A testament to his strong nerve, Fields took a career spiraling out of control and completely turned it around.
Originally drafted by the Mariners, 20th overall in the ’08 Draft, Fields has taken a long road from top prospect status, through a forest of injuries and command problems back to top prospect status.
When Seattle used their top pick on him, they believed the University of Georgia closer would move quickly through the minors, and possibly help them by the end of the ’08 regular season. But Fields’ exaggerated drop and drive delivery (similar to Tim Linecum’s) caused command and timing problems right of the gate. His mechanics decayed during his first two seasons, and he made numerous stints to the disabled list with knee, elbow and forearm problems.
After he’d worn out his welcome, the Mariners shipped him to Boston in the Erik Bedard deal. Though Fields’ velocity was no longer in the mid 90′s and he’d lost all confidence in his once vicious curve, Boston saw enough in him to take a chance. Almost immediately, they began working full force on cleaning up his mechanics and arm action.
After struggling through 2011, Fields took the mound in 2012 as the pitcher the Mariners thought he would be when they drafted him. With a drastically more compact delivery, lower arm angle and a much shorter time to the plate, Fields harnessed his control, and began pitching with confidence. His walk rate lopped in half, from over 6.30 BB/9 in his career to 3.16 BB/9 last season, and his velocity returned.
Opening the Spring in Portland (double-A), Fields dominated from start to finish. Through his first 32 appearances out of the bullpen, he posted a 2.62 ERA, a career-best 59 strikeouts and he yielded just 16 walks through 44 2/3 innings pitched. After the Red Sox promoted him to Pawtucket to finish the season, he caught fire, posting ten shutout appearances for the Paw Sox. Through 13 2/3 innings pitched, he struck out 19 batters and allowed just 10 baserunners. More than just strikeouts though, Fields’ ground-out/fly-out ratio improved from 0.83 in ’11 to 2.06.
Rockies (3): Danny Rosenbaum
A number of teams gutted the Nationals in this year’s Rule 5 draft, taking some of the organization’s top prospects (Jeff Kobernus for example). But the Rockies made out the best, selecting little southpaw Danny Rosenbaum.
In pretty much any other organization, Rosenbaum would’ve been protected, and really, even the Nationals don’t have a good excuse for leaving him exposed. He’s a good enough and advanced enough prospect that it’s criminal they let him go.
Though he’s listed at 6’1″, Rosenbaum is closer to 5’10″. But his lack of size actually plays to his advantage on the mound. A stocky lefty, Rosenbaum is among the best in the minors at staying compact and repeating his delivery. As a result he’s posted a 2.50 BB/9 through his four-year minor league career, and his ground-out/fly-out ratio has improved annually since 2009.
His stuff won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but each of his three pitches plays up because of his above average command and ability to maintain his delivery in to the late innings of his appearances. His fastball sits comfortably in the 87-90 range with nice sink and tail on his two-seamer, and he can dial it up to 92 MPH when he’s loose.
Danny’s secondary pitches have come along nicely in his past two seasons, and his tight bending curveball now rates big league average to plus. He’ll snap the pitch off against lefties early in the count for a called strike, and use it as a chase pitch to draw a swing and miss. His low 80′s changeup is also solid. He throws it with great arm speed, and he does a nice job of keeping it in the lower half of the zone.
When the Nationals selected Rosenbaum out of Xavier, in the 22nd round back in 2009, they believed he could be in the big leagues by the following season in a bullpen role. They stretched him out as a starter instead, and Rosey’s results have been top-notch.
After a solid debut, he posted a 2.25 ERA through 144 innings pitched between the South Atlantic and Carolina Leagues in 2010, earning him mid-season All-Star honors. He put together an even better 2011 campaign spent mostly with Potomac (A+). He finished the season ranked third among the league’s starters with a 2.59 ERA and tied for fifth with 108 strikeouts.
Last season, Danny got off to a scorching start in the Eastern League, By the beginning of May, he led his peers with a sparkling 0.76 ERA, and after between his third start on 4/18 and his eighth on 5/17, he allowed just one earned run in 45 innings.
Rosenbaum’s performance fell-off a cliff as the season went on, though he wasn’t bad enough to ruin his season. He finished with a 3.94 ERA and a 2.29 GO/AO through 155.1 innings pitched.
To the Rockies, Rosenbaum is either a candidate for the backend of their rotation, or a very solid left-handed reliever. In the latter role, he looks like a perfect fit. Out of the bullpen is fastball could play up to the low 90′s consistently, and he could focus on his best secondary pitch, his curveball. Plus, he’s been very effective against left-handed hitters as a starter, holding them to .210 batting average (.297 vs. righties) and just 40 baserunners allowed in 35 innings last season.
As a starter, he lacks the premium stuff to be anything more than number-five–or maybe a four someday–in a decent rotation. However, his high ground ball rates (2.65 in his career), suggest he could survive in the low gravity atmosphere of Coors Field, and his left-handedness gives him an advantage over top sluggers.
All and all, the Rockies got a steal. Rosenbaum is similar to former Nationals’ (and current A’s star pitcher) farm hand Tommy Milone, albeit not quite as polished, and he offers immediate value as a backend starter or a very solid southpaw reliever.
Washington Nationals: Zero Picks, 4 Players Lost
The Nationals didn’t even participate in this year’s Rule 5 Draft, but they lost some of their better prospects, leaving them with a major net loss.
Though they managed to hold on to ’08 second-round pick Destin Hood, one of the best high school ballplayers to ever come out of Alabama, they lost their most advanced lefty, Danny Rosenbaum, and Jeff Kobernus one of their top middle infield prospects. Flamethrower Hector Nelo and former top prospect Jack McGeary were also drafted in the Triple-A phase, and both players still have solid potential as future big league contributors.
The pick that hurts most, is their losing Rosenbaum (mentioned above as the second-best pick). Advanced southpaws with above-average command over three pitches, and tremendous ground-ball rates are always a mistake to let go of. Similar to Tommy Milone, the star throw-in of last year’s Gio Gonzalez deal, Rosey’s stock isn’t exciting, but it’s as low-risk as they come.
First of all, Danny has put together a successful double-A pitching career, proving he can survive against some of the most advanced talent in the minors. In fact, for the first few months of last season, he was arguably the best pitcher in double-A. Second of all, his ability to keep the ball on the ground and get lefties out makes him a prime bullpen candidate in the MLB, as soon as next season. Lastly, his above-average command over three solid pitches gives him a steep learning curve.
Kobernus is another tough loss. The Tigers traded Justin Henry to the Red Sox to get him, and the young second baseman holds immediate value in the MLB as a bench player.
The Nats’ second-round pick in 2009, Kobernus is armed with plus-plus speed, a decent swing and above-average defensive skills. He’s a career .279/.316/.356 hitter, playing many of his games in the pitcher friendly Carolina and Eastern Leagues, and he hit .282 as a twenty-three-year-old in Double-A last season. His power has developed as planned, but he’s been a solid contact hitter, and his on-base percentage has improved steadily since he was drafted.
He may not break camp with the Tigers, but if he does, he has the speed and fielding ability to be a very solid utilityman. He’s swiped 120 bases in 149 tries through 290 minor league contests, and he’s one of the fastest infielders in the minors, making him a tailor-made fit as a pinch runner. Last year, he improved his fielding percentage at second base for the third straight season, and he now appears to be a solid-average defender.
Both McGeary and Nelo are decent prospects, but out of the two, Nelo has the brighter future. A late bloomer, the twenty-six-year-old reliever improved his stock dramatically in 2011, before putting together his best season in 2012.
After floundering in the low minors for four years, Nelo finally got healthy and harnessed his command in 2011. His fastball velocity jumped to a consistent 94-95 MPH, and showed vicious run. Through 41 innings as the Potomac Nationals’ closer, he saved eighteen games, struck out 35 batters and posted a remarkable 3.22 G/F ratio. Last season in double-A, his K/9 rate jumped to 10.77 after he whiffed 63 batters in 52.2 innings pitched. He did allow 73 baserunners in that span, but his ground-ball rate (2.7 G/F) was still well above-average.