The Seattle Mariners selected a veteran minor league left-handed relief pitcher with the third selection in the Rule 5 draft this morning.
Lucas Luetge has pitched to a 3.43 ERA, 1.33 WHIP , 8.0 SO/9 and 2.5 SO/BB in 125 minor league games in his four seasons in the Brewers' system. He pitched the full season in Double-A Huntsville in 2011 in the Southern League (where the M's also play, so they've seen a lot of him) and posted a 3.13 ERA (2.81 FIP), 1.25 WHIP and 9.0 SO/9 while limiting left-handed hitters to a .175 average. He has done a remarkable job of keeping the ball in the park in the minors as he's allowed just 16 home runs in his 291 pro innings to date.
Luetge attacks hitters with a fastball in the 86-88 range and a big curveball that he throws in the mid-70s, which is his strikeout pitch. He throws a change-up at times, too, but he is really a candidate as a left-handed specialist at best unless he gains more MPH on his fastball and improves his change-up. He faced a lot of right-handers in 2011 as he pitched multiple innings out of the bullpen regularly and they hit him pretty hard, batting .296 and hitting all three of his home runs allowed. He has a clean delivery with good arm speed and a consistent release. He also has a plus move to first base.
He'll turn 25-years-old early during Spring Training in 2012. As a Rule 5 pick, Luetge will be thrown in the mix for a big league bullpen job, but I'd handicap him behind at least Brian Moran and Charlie Furbush (if he's moved to the pen as I expect) at this point. If he doesn't pan out, the M's can try to get permission from the Brewers to send him to the minor leagues, but if not, so be it. The Rule 5 isn't as big of a deal as it used to be as all teams do a great job of protecting their top talent.