Minor League Rule V Report

The San Diego Padres filled out their minor league rosters with five selections from other teams' minor leagues. Four came from the Triple-A phase and another from the Double-A phase. They also lost five players, four from the Triple-A phase and one from the Double-A phase. A recap of the Padres' pickups and views from two scouts on the additions and the loss of one player in particular.

The Minor League phase of the Rule V Draft is basically a tool for major league teams to fill out affiliates rather than obtain talent.

The Triple-A and Double-A segments of the Rule 5 draft come with price tags of $12,000 and $4,000 respectively. Minor league players not protected on the reserve lists at the Double-A and Class A levels are subject to selection. Very few, if any, major leaguers come from this process.

The Padres obtained shortstop Ronnie Merrill from Colorado, left-hander Homero Rivera from Montreal, outfielder Jesse Roman from St. Louis, left-hander Ignacio Montano from Cleveland and catcher Mark McRoberts from Philadelphia.

In the process, they lost right-hander Eudy Moreal, right-hander Darwin Soto, third baseman Alex Pelaez, catcher Omar Falcon and right-hander Robert Garvin.

"Darwin is a loss," said one scout. "He had some talent and showed poise as a closer, which is surprising given his stuff. Mid 80's fastball to upper 80's at his best and just some off-speed stuff."

"Darwin doesn't throw all that hard," said another scout. "He just attacks every hitter and since he doesn't have the greatest stuff in the world, he gets hit. I would compare him a little bit to Rod Beck when he was in his heyday with the Giants.

"He would save 40 games out of 45, but those five games he didn't save, he gave up some stuff so his ERA was never 1.90 or 2.00 for a reliever. He was always in the 3.00's. And I would kind of characterize Soto as that same way."

What the Padres did accomplish is restocking the cupboard with two extra left-handed pitchers. None of the talent acquired is expected to make a big splash, but the lefties could be used as extras in potential deals as they are generally held with slightly higher regard for their upside than their right-handed counterparts.

Ronnie Merrill:

Merrill was originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the seventh round of the 2000 Draft. Up until his ascension to Triple-A in 2002, Merrill had never hit lower than .282. In 19 games, he hit just .190 playing in the PCL. A broken thumb set his journey back as he spent five weeks on the disabled list. In 62 games back in Double-A in 2003, he batted .181. Merrill, a switch-hitter, does not offer much power, has adequate speed and is more of a defensive specialist with solid range.

Homero Rivera:

Rivera was 13-4 working as a reliever with Eerie in the Tigers system in 2003. At 26, it was his first taste of success in the minor leagues. He won six straight decisions to open the season and kept his ERA down to a slim 2.97. The 2003 season was his third year at the Double-A level. His best role is as a long reliever.

Jesse Roman:

Roman, an 11th round pick of the Cardinals in 2001, saw his first action at the Double-A level last season and wished he hadn't. He hit just .167 in 16 games, striking out twice as many times (16) as he had hits (8). He is not great in any one batting category and has seen his plate discipline regress over the last year. He is a gap hitter who can use the field well and will hit the occasional home run. He has average speed and is an above average defender in the outfield and at first.

Ignacio Montano:

Montano is hard to get a read on. Over the past two seasons he has spent time at three different levels in each year. Used as a reliever, he has struggled each time he hits Double-A, albeit they are brief stints. A good portion of his playing time in 2003 came in non-pressure situations, with the team down a bunch or non-save situations. At 5-8, 155 pounds, he does not project very well into the higher minor leagues.

Mark McRoberts:

McRoberts is the most intriguing of the bunch. The El Cajon native is touted as a great fielder with power. He hit 17 homers with Lakewood of the Phils organization and 57% of his hits went for extra bases, but he hit just .177 in 103 games. The former 14th round selection in the 2000 draft, struck out when he wasn't hitting. He whiffed 120 times and had just 57 hits on the year. The Phils had been working on leveling out his swing over the summer, but it did not appear to work. Rob Deer will now work closely with McRoberts.

A view from two different scouts:

"You have the number one pick and you choose Merrill? I know they just released Mendez, but this is ridiculous. I can think of at least ten other guys I would rather have and four of them are shortstops!"

"Rivera is a decent choice. He has some value and replaces Brian Tollberg as a six year free agent."

"Montano, sometimes when you have nothing good to say it is better to say nothing at all."

"Jesse and Mark will get some good time in with Robbie (Deer). Robbie might be able to do wonders for Mark. If someone gets it through the kids' skull that he has to work on making contact, the kid could become a legitimate prospect."

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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