Unprotected Rule 5 Pitchers

After granting Jamie D'Antona his release, the Arizona Diamondbacks now have room to acquire two players in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft, or possibly more if one of their own unprotected players gets selected. Here are some of the top pitching prospects that will be available to the D-backs on December 11th.

For possible Rule 5 position players that the Diamondbacks could acquire, click here.

For the Diamondbacks' list of Rule 5 eligible players, click here.

Chicago Cubs

Donald Veal (LHP) - After seemingly breezing through the lower levels of the minors, Veal has been beat up a little bit the past couple of seasons. He's got an above-average fastball and a useable curve, but struggles with his control. He's still just 24 and pitched at Double-A Tennessee each of the last two seasons, posting a combined 4.73 ERA.

Chicago White Sox

Derek Rodriguez (RHP) - After working as a starter in his professional career, Rodriguez moved to the bullpen this past season and did a nice job. He pitched at both Double-A and Triple-A for a combined mark of 5-2, 3.29 in 49 games (79 1/3 IP).

Carlos Torres (RHP) - Torres has pitched as both a reliever and starter and made it to Triple-A for eight games (one start) in 2008. While his numbers there weren't anything special, he's not far from being ready and could work through a season in a team's bullpen if they're willing to be patient.

Cleveland Indians

T.J. Burton (RHP) - A member of the 2008 Canadian Olympic team, Burton has pitched in a variety of roles in his seven years in the minors. The right-hander switched his motion from strictly over the top to sidearm in 2008 and basically repeated his exact numbers from 2007 while staying at the Double-A level.

Bubbie Buzachero (RHP) - Buzachero is an intensely competitive reliever acquired in a minor trade from Toronto three years ago. He's got the fastball and aggressive nature to be a setup guy in the 'pen, but comes with some rather interesting sidelights. Things like getting punched out by a teammate (who was released) and missing the 2006 Class AA playoffs, and being known for biting the head off a live fish tend to get in the way.

J.D. Martin (RHP) - A first-round draft choice out of high school in 2001, Martin has pitched quite well - when not on the disabled list. Numerous injuries have derailed his development. The right-hander has one of the best curveballs in the minors, good poise and command. Martin, who turns 26 in early January, has had two different stints at Triple-A for a combined 15 innings and a 4.80 ERA.

Detroit Tigers

Jay Sborz (RHP) - Sborz has good size (6' 4", 210 pounds) and a lot of potential. He put up good numbers out of the bullpen for High-A Lakeland (2.87 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) and has shown improvement over the past couple of seasons after a slow start to his professional career. The 23 year old hasn't pitched higher than High-A ball.

Milwaukee Brewers

Steve Bray (RHP) - Bray turns 28 shortly after the Rule 5 Draft and has made pitched in four separate stints at Triple-A, including in 2008. He's amassed a 2.94 ERA in 89 Triple-A games (four starts), has decent control and has struck out almost one hitter per inning.

Rafael Lluberes (LHP) - After working primarily as a starter in his previous outings, the 24 year old Lluberes pitched primarily in relief at High-A Brevard County in 2008. He struggled a little with the adjustment, but still struck out a hitter per inning out of the bullpen.

David Welch (LHP) - The 25 year old had a nice season at Double-A Huntsville in 2008, going 11-4, 3.90 in 27 starts. In four minor league seasons, Welch has a 3.30 ERA, moving at least one level per season.

New York Mets

Adam Bostick (LHP) – If a club is looking for a left-handed arm to fill out their rotation, they could look to this Triple-A southpaw.  Bostick, the Mets' first option from the farm for spot starts, was actually called up to New York in late April but was returned to Triple-A before he could throw even one inning.  Knee surgery in late May cut short his season, but he went 2-2 with a 6.04 ERA in 11 starts this season and brings good velocity with a sharp slider that could help him hold down a fifth spot in the rotation or make him an effective reliever.

Eric Brown (RHP) – The right-hander had a bumpy season at Double-A Binghamton as he posted a 6-9 record with a 5.05 ERA in 123 innings in a starter/swingman role, but he will not back down to hitters, coming right after them by pounding the bottom of the strike zone with his sinker/slider combination.  Though he does not boast a dominant top pitch, he has a sharp pitching mind and is one of the toughest competitors in the Mets' system.

Junior Guerra (RHP) – In his first year with the Mets, Guerra was transformed from a catcher into a hard-throwing reliever with a mid-90s fastball who is quickly raising eyebrows across the organization.  He still needs work refining his secondary pitches, but Guerra has shown great control of his fastball and good use of his slider as an off-pitch.  He is still a bit of project, but could rise quickly on the heels of his power arm.  In 34 innings in 2008, Guerra posted a 1-1 record with a 2.12 ERA with 41 strikeouts and seven walks across four levels before a stint in the Hawaiian Winter League.

New York Yankees

J. Brent Cox (RHP) - Former University of Texas closer drafted in the 2nd round back in 2005.  He projects best as a middle reliever at this point - he throws a great moving sinker at 88-92 MPH, a plus slider, and a serviceable changeup.  He compares favorably to Mets reliever Joe Smith and I suspect he'll get selected even though he missed the 2007 season with Tommy John surgery.  He got to Triple-A this year.  His ceiling isn't the highest but he's one of the safest bets to be a solid reliever.

Alan Horne (RHP) - He was a top five prospect a year ago but was hurt all year this season and then had shoulder surgery.  The prognosis for his return is a bit shady.  Some are saying he'll miss half of the year this season but the Horne camp is saying he'll be ready by Spring Training.  He's a former first round pick of the Indians out of high school and he's got great stuff [fastball, curveball, and slider are all plus pitches, and his changeup can be solid].  I can't see a team taking him because of the injury but he's one of those high reward picks if somebody does take him.  I'm sure the Yankees are banking on his injury scaring teams away.

Kevin Whelan (RHP) - Former college catcher has some nasty stuff but some command issues.  He can top out at 97 MPH and has one of the best splitters around.  He has developed a solid slider and changeup as well, but the guy walks like five batters per nine innings.  He compares favorably to Marlins reliever Henry Owens and could be selected if a team is going just on pure stuff.

Zack Kroenke (LHP) - Former Nebraska starter has found a niche as a left-handed reliever.  He continues to post solid numbers but he gets overlooked because he doesn't throw too hard [88-92].  His slider is his only plus pitch and it makes him extremely effective against left-handed batters. 

Oakland Athletics

Brad Kilby (LHP) - This is the type of pitcher that teams may be attracted to. He's a lefty who specializes in getting left-handers out (lefties hit just .163 against him) and he spent the entire season at Triple-A Sacramento. Kilby will turn 26 in February and looks like he may be ready to pitch in the majors, making him a pretty safe pick for a team. His fastball tops out in the low-90s, but he has good movement on the pitch and gets a lot of strikeouts.

Philadelphia Phillies

Patrick Overholt (RHP) - Overholt split his 2007 season between High-A and Double-A, struggling mightily at Double-A. The Phillies sent him back for some more work at the Double-A level and the results were no better than in 2007. In two stints with Double-A Reading, he's now 9-17 with a 5.88 ERA.

San Diego Padres

Tim Stauffer (RHP) - Stauffer is coming off surgery, but had a terrific arm that hit low-90s with solid secondary pitches. His mental game was always in the way of his success though. Stauffer missed the entire season, but has pitched a total of 94 2/3 innings in the majors with San Diego.

Jon Ellis (RHP) - Ellis is a right-hander who is especially tough on right-handed hitters. He's got a sidearm style motion and features a plus slider. He gets lots of ground balls and is very good with men on base. The 26 year old pitched primarily at Double-A San Antonio in 2008, posting a 3.19 ERA in 73 1/3 innings.

St. Louis Cardinals

Mark McCormick (RHP) - The Cardinals decided not to protect McCormick, mainly because the odds of a team taking him aren't very good. He ended the season on the DL and was pitching at the Advanced-A level in 2008, making him a long shot to be ready to stick with a major league club. He's definitely got talent and received a nice signing bonus, but injuries have been a stumbling block for him on his way to the majors. McCormick is a powerful pitcher, but struggles with control.

Mike Parisi (RHP) - After pitching well for Triple-A Memphis, the Cardinals were disappointed with what they got from Parisi when they brought him to the majors. The 25 year old wound up needing Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2009 season, making it unlikely that another team will grab him in the Rule 5 Draft. Even if they kept him on the DL for the entire season, he would then have to stay on the major league roster for 90 days during the 2010 season, making it a little risky for another team to draft him.

Luis Perdomo (RHP) - A reliever, Perdomo came over to the Cardinals in the deal that shipped pitcher Anthony Reyes to the Cleveland Indians. The 24 year old has a mid-90s fastball and an improving slider and pitched at Double-A Springfield after coming over to St. Louis. Perdomo was eligible in last year's Rule 5 Draft, but was not picked. His stock is higher this time around and he could go in the loss column for the Cardinals.

Tampa Bay Rays

Eduardo Morlan (RHP) - There were a lot of people who assumed the Rays would protect Morlan, who came over in the Delmon Young deal with Minnesota a year ago. He's got a good, live fastball and a strong slider and pitched at Double-A at just 22 this past season, going 4-2, 3.64 in 30 games out of the bullpen. He was hurt for much of the 2008 season and the Rays may very well lose him in the Rule 5 Draft.

Washington Nationals

Yunior Novoa (LHP) - The 24 year old had somewhat of a breakout season in 2008. Pitching at both High-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, he pitched to a combined mark of 4-2, 2.09 appearing in 45 games, all in relief. He struck out a hitter per inning in 2008 after putting up very average numbers in previous seasons.

Contributing to this article were Keith Glab (SoxHardball.com - Chicago White Sox), Tyler Hissey (RaysDigest.com - Tampa Bay Rays), Chuck Hixson (Philly Baseball News - Philadelphia Phillies), Steve Holley (InsideTheIvy.com - Chicago Cubs), Melissa Lockard (OaklandClubhouse.com - Oakland A's), Todd Mishler (BrewerUpdate.com - Milwaukee Brewers), Chuck Murr (Indians Ink - Cleveland Indians), Denis Savage (FutureHalos.com - LA Angels and MadFriars.com - San Diego Padres), Jon Star (Inside Pitch - NY Mets), Patrick Teale (PinstripesPlus.com - NY Yankees), George Von Benko (PiratesDugout.com - Pittsburgh Pirates), Brian Walton (The Birdhouse - St. Louis Cardinals), Paul Wezner (TigsTown.com - Detroit Tigers) and Jay Zenz (DC Baseball News - Washington Nationals).

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