Padres nab four from Rule 5 draft

As baseball’s winter meetings come to an end, the San Diego Padres were the most active club in the annual Rule 5 draft. While relatively few players emerge from the Rule 5 to become major contributors, there are occasional exceptions and the 2015 season saw the most robust production since the rules changed to give players another year of development before they became eligible.

The team selected a pair of potential relief arms with their own picks, but the headliners for the day could very well be the players acquired by trade. Oakland selected outfielder Jabari Blash,from the Seattle Mariners and then flipped to the Padres as the player-to-be-named from last week’s trade that brought Drew Pomeranz down the coast. Hours later, the Rockies sent San Diego former Cardinals farmhand Luis Perdomo (a cousin of the former Padre) for cash.

Blash, a 26-year-old originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands who the Mariners eventually drafted from a Florida junior college in 2010, will, to paraphrase Billy Beane and Michael Lewis, sell a lot of blue jeans. A right-handed hitter, the big man is a physical specimen whose tools have had him on watch lists for nearly a decade.

Blash was suspended for 50 games under the minor league drug policy in June, 2014, a penalty which indicates it was a second positive test for a drug of abuse. As our friends at Seattle Clubhouse noted when they ranked him the Mariner’s 22nd prospect heading into the 2015 season, the suspension raised concerns about Blash’s decision-making and commitment.

Blash didn’t start the 2015 campaign off well either, striking out in 50 percent of his April at-bats to get demoted from Triple-A Tacoma. But he obliterated the Southern League until the All-Star break to earn a return trip to the PCL, where he hit .286/.374/.696 (yes, that’s a .410 IsoP) over the last half of the season with a more manageable K rate.

Blash’s arrival adds to the area of greatest depth in the Padres organization, upper-level outfielders. Though he definitely has flaws with his long-levered approach at the plate, he will certainly get every opportunity to see if his power can translate often enough against big-league pitching.

Perdomo, 22, worked exclusively as a starter for the Cardinals since signing out of the Dominican in the winter of 2010. He earned The Cardinal's nod as DSL pitcher of the year in 2012, and got a quick promotion from short-season ball to the Midwest League in 2014. However, he stalled out a bit there and got a return ticket to start 2015.

This year, the hard throwing righty was a force for Peoria, posting a 3.68 ERA and striking out 100 in 100 innings over the first half to both earn a trip to the Futures Game and a promotion to High-A.

Perdomo will be challenged by such a massive jump, but is somewhat reminiscent of Ivan Nova, who the Padres took in the 2009 Rule 5, but ultimately returned to the Yankees. you can hear Cardinals' director of player development Gary LaRoque's thoughts on his former charge in this interview with our colleague Brian Walton in October. In addition to trade acquisitions, the Padres also selected a pair of potential righty relievers themselves in Josh Martin and (former Logan White signee) Blake Smith.

Martin, who signed as a senior out of Samford University in 2012, was seen by Indians Baseball Insider’s Jeff Ellis in August, when he was “nothing short of dominant” while relying on breaking balls and off-speed to post an impressive 10.69 K/9 rate in Double-A. With barely 250 innings of professional experience under his belt, he is very much a wildcard heading into spring.

Blake Smith was originally a second-round pick of the Dodgers as an outfielder out of Cal back in 2009. After stalling out at the plate, he switched to the mound in 2013. After getting traded to the White Sox organization this year, he emerged as a classic high-strikeout/high-walk big-armed reliever, whiffing 31 percent of the batters he faced, but also allowing 44 men to reach base in his 30 innings at Triple-A.

While players selected in the Rule 5 are required to stay on the big league roster or be put through waivers and then offered back to their original clubs, the pitchers’ career trajectories and relative age make them more likely candidates to make it through to the minors if they don’t earn a roster position out of spring training.

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