Revisiting the Cards' last two Rule 5 drafts

Catching up with players lost and added by the St. Louis Cardinals organization via Rule 5 the past two winters. There hasn't been much of an impact.

Perhaps because of a handful of exceptional players who later became all-stars after once having been selected in the Rule 5 Draft – Johan Santana, Dan Uggla and the like – the annual December event draws far more attention than it probably should.

The reality is that only rarely do either the lost/chosen players ever become big-leaguers and only a rare few make a real impact.

That is especially the case in the minor league phases of the draft. As far back as my detailed records go, 11 years, the Cardinals selected 14 players and lost just six in the minor league phase prior to this last draft.

None of them reached the majors until 2012, when St. Louis had its first major leaguer come from the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft – reliever Barret Browning, taken from the Angels in December 2011.

Even so, Browning's 15 minutes of fame was fleeting - consisting of less than 20 major league innings. The left-hander was removed from the 40-man this January and was released and out of baseball by the end of May.

In the major league phase of the December 2012 draft, the Cardinals neither selected nor lost any one, but the club was again active in the minor league phase. The Cardinals added two players and lost one.

Cerda didn't stay long
The new Cardinals were third baseman Matt Cerda from the Cubs and left-handed pitcher Jay Voss from the Tigers. Catcher Steven Hill departed for Oakland.

To say the results were minimal would be generous. Before 2013 spring training was over, both Cerda and Hill retired from baseball. Voss spent parts of the season on the disabled list, still recovering from 2012 Tommy John surgery. When the left-hander did pitch, he generally struggled.

Voss, who first reached Double-A in 2009, ended up the summer with Class-A Peoria. The 26-year-old was initially activated at Palm Beach at the end of May. After eight very rough starts, he was back on the disabled list by mid-July. Following a three-week rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League, Voss was reassigned to Peoria as a reliever in mid-August.

Across the three stops, the Illinois native had an 8.20 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk count of 27 to 24 in 37 1/3 innings. While Voss' numbers improved in the Midwest League, he was playing far below his appropriate. He is among a group of 10 Cardinals who will be eligible for minor league free agency this fall.

There was a bit of a silver lining in this, however. When Cerda abruptly quit with a week left in camp, the Cardinals scrambled to find a replacement third baseman for Springfield. That turned out to be former major leaguer Ruben Gotay.

Gotay became a mid- and post-season Texas League all-star. The switch-hitter was seventh in the Double-A league in on-base percentage at .366, tied for third in hits (139), was fourth in doubles (31) and second in runs scored (75) and RBI (89).

Like Voss, Gotay is a minor league free agent to-be.

Komatsu
Remembering the 2011 Rule 5 class

Given the Rule 5 class of 2012 was so uninteresting, let's look page another year.

In December 2011's major league phase, the Cardinals added Erik Komatsu from the Nationals and lost no one.

The outfielder made the Cardinals out of 2012 spring camp, but after hitting .216 in 30 games, he was placed on waivers. After another brief and unsuccessful stint with the Minnesota Twins, Komatsu was returned to Washington. He spent the remainder of 2012 in Triple-A, and played in just 16 games this season before suffering a season-ending injury in May.

In the 2011 minor league phase, catcher Charlie Cutler went to Pittsburgh, infielder Domnit Bolivar joined Milwaukee and pitcher Javier Avendano flew to Toronto. The Cardinals added Browning plus pitcher Scooter Hunt, who never left training camp before being released.

Cutler's second year at Altoona in 2013 (and fourth overall season at Double-A) was almost a mirror image of his 2012. Now 27, Cutler had a line of .298/.397/.420, hit three home runs and drove in 26.

After hitting .198 for Double-A Huntsville in 2012, Bolivar became a free agent last winter and did not play in the US in 2013.

Avendano, a 23-year-old Venezuelan, reached the Midwest League in 2013. Among his season highlights was a seven-inning, two-hit scoreless outing against the Cardinals' Peoria affiliate in early July. Overall, the right-hander went 8-6 with a 3.76 ERA and logged a 99/62 strikeout to walk count in 115 MWL innings pitched.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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