2010 MLB Rule 5 Preview

A look ahead to Thursday's Major League Baseball Rule 5 Draft that closes out the 2010 Winter Meetings.

Before the acquisition of Lance Berkman, it appeared that the St. Louis Cardinals would not be players in this week's Rule 5 draft. But with the lineup appearing to be set and the payroll leaking, John Mozeliak may look to add some low cost depth to his roster.

Players that are eligible for the Rule 5 draft and not protected on the 40-man roster can be selected from another for $50,000. The player must stay on that team's roster for the whole season or offered back to the player's original team for $25,000.

According to history, pitching is always more appealing than position players. It seems it is easier for a team to hide a player for a year in the bullpen than taking up a position on the bench. That has not been the case in recent years for the Cardinals. Both Hector Luna and Brian Barton were nabbed by the team and found valuable playing time and more importantly, at bats.

Left-handed pitcher Ben Jukich was nabbed by the team during last year's draft proceedings. He would later be returned to the Reds.

Looking at possible needs that could be filled through the draft, a reliever capable of pitching multiple innings and middle infield depth appears most likely. Also, the organization is very thin in left-handed pitching. The Cardinals are still in search of a backup catcher though I don't see them filling that need through the Rule 5 process.

Listed below are available rpitchers followed by position players.

Pitchers

Robert Fish LHP
Los Angeles Angels

The 22-year-old looks to be a valuable commodity. He has a fastball that reaches the mid nineties and is left-handed. Unfortunately, his production has failed to live up to his talents. During his time in the Texas League this past summer, he posted an ERA of close to nine. He followed that up with a trip to the Arizona Fall League where he posted an ERA over 10.

On the bright side, he did strike out 48 in 42 innings while with Arkansas. With that type of power arm, it might be worth a shot to give him a spring training look. Maybe pitching coach Dave Duncan can straighten him out like he has so many in the past.

Daniel Gutierrez RHP
Texas Rangers

The former Kansas City Royals farmhand has been compared to the late Darryl Kile due to his superb fastball and knee buckling curve. Unfortunately, he has not acted like Kile off the field. He has had multiple issues with law enforcement over the past few years resulting in the Royals moving him to Texas.

The 23-year-old made pitched only 51 innings last season and worked only one in the Arizona Fall League after being suspended 50 games of the 2010 season for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. In 2009, he was named to the Rising Stars Game in the AFL and was considered one of the Rangers' top 10 prospects.

Craig Heyer RHP
New York Yankees

Climbing slower than most college pitchers, the former UNLV star has only reached high class-A after being drafted in the 22nd round in 2007. The 6'3 pitcher pounds the lower half of the strike zone with his low nineties sinking fastball which keeps his fielders working. In 2010, he posted a 2-to-1 groundball-to-fly ball ratio.

Even more impressive is his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 11-to-1. Yes, Heyer struck out 66 while walking only six in 92 innings. The Yankees rewarded him with a trip to the Arizona Fall League. In 18 innings, he posted a 2.50 ERA and a groundball-to-fly ball rate of nearly 3-to-1.

Kasey Kiker LHP
Texas Rangers

The 10th overall pick in 2006 MLB First Year Player Draft was a high school teammate of Cardinals' centerfielder Colby Rasmus. After a solid season in 2009, Baseball America ranked him as Texas' sixth best prospect as it appeared that Kiker was ready to start knocking on the door at Arlington.

Unfortunately, nagging injuries derailed his 2010. He had elbow issues in May followed by shoulder fatigue in August. Somewhere in between, he lost his rhythm and faulty mechanics caused the train to completely come off the tracks. The Rangers shut him down and he now appears to be ok once again.

In the Puerto Rican Winter League, the 23-year-old is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA.

Eddie Kunz RHP
New York Mets

The closer on two NCAA World Series champions at Oregon State seems to be a victim of his own success. The Mets rushed him to the bigs in 2008 after being drafted the previous year and he has struggled ever since.

Earlier in his career, he touched the high nineties but now his fastball sits in the low nineties. With better conditioning, there is no reason to think that he could not bounce back. To get him more work, the Mets put him in the rotation at Double-A and he pitched a career-high 111 innings.

Fu-Ti Ni LHP
Detroit Tigers

The Cardinals need to take him just so fans can enjoy broadcaster Mike Shannon having fun with his name on a nightly basis. The southpaw struggled to keep runs off the board in both Detroit and Toledo but he has some interesting peripherals. In 12 innings at the Triple-A level, he racked up 16 strikeouts while he struck out 22 in 23 innings at the big league level. Control doomed the 28-year-old, he allowed 22 free passes while pitching for the Tigers.

Aneury Rodriguez RHP
Tampa Bay Rays

He will probably be gone by the time the Cardinals pick but he is an interesting player to take a look at. The 22-year-old possesses a low nineties fastball to go along with solid secondary offerings. At Triple-A Durham, he posted an ERA of 3.80 with 94 strikeouts in 113.2 innings.

This winter he is playing in the Dominican where he has posted a 1.22 ERA in seven starts. Opponents are hitting only .133 against him and he has 33 strikeouts in 37 innings. Just another example of the ridiculous pitching depth assembled in the Tampa Bay Rays' system.

Brad Meyers RHP
Washington Nationals

A mountain of a man (6'6), Meyers racked up 35 strikeouts against only seven walks in 30.2 innings in the Eastern League. The 25-year-old made only seven starts in 2010 after suffering a poorly healing foot injury. In the 2009, he went a combined 11-3 with a 1.72 ERA over two levels and would be named the Nationals' Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Meyers works in the low nineties with an average slider, curve, and change up.

Kyle Waldrop RHP
Minnesota Twins

The former 2004 first-round pick is a groundball machine who induced twice as many groundballs as fly balls last season. In the Arizona Fall League, the 25-year-old posted a three-to-one average.

The right-hander does not have overpowering stuff. Waldrop's fastball sits in the high eighties and low nineties with heavy sink. In 88 innings, he allowed only five home runs. His changeup is his best pitch and is above average. With the ability to pitch multiple innings, he could be an interesting replacement for the recently departed Blake Hawksworth.

Position Players

Ryan Adams 2B
Baltimore Orioles

After injuries derailed his 2009 season, Adams bounced back with a strong performance this past summer. The right-handed hitter posted a line of .298/.365/.464 with 15 home runs and an eye catching 43 doubles while playing both second and third base.

The 23-year-old finished his season with a trip to the Arizona Fall League. In 19 games, he had with an OPS of only .673 but did manage 14 RBIs. A high energy player with a great work ethic, the right-handed hitter could provide depth behind Skip Schumaker at second.

Brad Emaus 2B
Toronto Blue Jays

Coming off a season in which Emaus hit a career high 15 home runs, it is interesting that the Blue Jays are making him available. The Tulane product also finished with 81 walks compared to 69 strikeouts over two levels.

The right-handed hitter played both second and third in 2010 and his defense is improving. He has a high baseball IQ and looks to be the part of a solid big leaguer in the future. Playing in the Dominican this winter, the 24-year-old is slugging .476 in 105 at bats.

Tuffy Gosewisch C
Philadelphia Phillies

The 27-year-old has only 16 at bats over Double-A. This past summer he hit only .241/.353/.405. So why would the Cardinals be interested in the backstop?

With fans like those in St. Louis, he would quickly become a fan favorite with a name like Tuffy Gosewisch. With that come thousands of t-shirts sold which in turn helps fund Albert Pujols' contract extension.

Josh Horton SS
Oakland Athletics

The former second round pick is a capable defender who should be able to handle shortstop at the big league level. Horton hit .286/.353/.364 with 41 walks compared to 50 strikeouts at Double-A Midland last summer.

Currently the left-handed hitter is playing Mexican Winter League where he has a slash line of .459/.500/.514 in 37 at bats.

Josh Rodriguez 2B
Cleveland Indians

I have never understood why Rodriguez has not gotten a better shot in Cleveland. The 25-year-old is capable of manning all the infield positions and has some outfield experience.

In 2010, the left-handed hitter posted a line of .293/.372/.486 in 317 at bats at Triple-A Columbus. The Rice Owl hit 12 home runs last summer and has posted double digit home runs in three of his five minor league seasons including 20 in 2007.

Marquez Smith 3B
Chicago Cubs

In an organization lacking in minor league depth, it is interesting to find such an interesting bat being exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Smith slugged .574 at Triple-A Iowa in 2010 and the site Fangraphs projected his major league equivalent slugging percentage to be .502. Playing predominantly third base during his minor league career, Smith has had a few appearances in the middle infield.

Presently playing in Venezuela, the 25-year-old has hit five home runs and has posted an .808 OPS in 97 at bats.

Brad Suttle 3B
New York Yankees

The former Texas Longhorn signed a record $1.3 million bonus after being drafted by the Yankees in the fourth round in 2007. Since that time, he has struggled with consistency and missed all of 2009 due to injury.

In 2010, the switch hitter posted a line of .272/.340./411 with 10 home runs and 80 RBIs. The 24-year-old is strikeout prone with 136 whiffs in 514 at bats last season. Suttle is a sure handed defender with good reactions at the hot corner.

Chad Tracy OF
Texas Rangers

Not to be confused with the former Diamondback, this Chad is the son of Colorado manager Jim Tracy. The right-handed hitter slugged .502 at Triple-A last summer while smacking 17 long balls.

The 25-year-old broke into the Rangers' system as a catcher but has since been moved off the position.

Scott Van Slyke OF
Los Angeles Dodgers

Yes, I know there is no chance of the Cardinals nabbing the 24-year-old outfielder. But it would make a great story for the son of Andy to come back to his hometown. The right-handed hitter posted a line of .270/.329/.439 over three levels.

Stephen Vogt C
Tampa Bay Rays

The left-handed hitter caught 27 games while also playing left field and first base last year at high Class A. In .414 at bats, he hit .345/.399/.511 with eight home runs. Obviously, the Rays don't feel he can catch at the big league level or they definitely would have protected him.

The 25-year-old threw out 11 of 25 base stealers and could provide an interesting bat off the bench.

Corey Wimberly 2B
Oakland Athletics

For as long as I've been doing these previews, it seems like Wimberly's name has been showing up on these lists. The 27-year-old would provide an interesting mix of speed and versatility that this Cardinal team is lacking.

Wimberly made double digit starts at second, short, third, left, and center in 2010. In six minor league seasons, he has 259 steals including 56 last summer. Currently, the switch hitter is batting .266/.361/.351 in 94 at bats in Mexico.

Utility

Joe Savery
Philadelphia Phillies

I didn't really know where to slot the former first round pick. Savery posted a record of 1-12 on the mound in 2010 but he did hit .348/.348/.478 in 46 at bats during his second season at Triple-A.

The former Rice Owl bats and throws left and is a tremendous athlete. Maybe worth a flier if the Cardinals brought him in and had him concentrate on one position.





Dustin can be contacted at dustin@whiteyball.com.
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