Below is a quick run through of several Rule 5 options:
Right Handed Pitchers
Danny Burawa, New York Yankees
The Yankees don't exactly have a deep minor league system, but they also have a 40 man roster that every year is a bit more bloated with fringe MLB players than it should be. It creates a situation where some potential Rule 5 arms emerge. Burawa is one of those. Last year saw him effective in AA striking out a player every inning, but walking one every four outs. This performance contrasts with a player that had decent control before he missed the entire 2012 season with a torn oblique. Perhaps with time and increased core strength, the control will return. He offers a mid 90s fastball, a below average slider, and a change up that probably should not be thrown at the MLB level.
Hector Nelo, Los Angeles Dodgers
Nelo was taken last year in the Minor League portion of the Rule 5, which is where you simply find filler and nothing else. Nelo is a fringe player who could be something more if anyone could impress upon him a decent secondary offering. His fastball hums in the upper 90s as some of you might remember seeing him in Potomac in 2011. He tries to throw a slider, but with no success. If the organization thinks it can fix him, he could be a solid reliever. If not, he would be soon returned to the Dodgers.
Ryan Tepera, Toronto Blue Jays
Tepera is one of those long time minor league starters who find that a switch to the pen gains them about 3 or 4 mph. From what I can tell, he was likely on the bubble for a 40 man roster slot. I could see him being very useful as a fourth right hander in the pen with a mid 90s fastball and a solid average slider. He is the one of these three right handers that I would be most interested in.
Left Handed Pitchers
Omar Luis, New York Yankees
Luis is the flashy name of the Rule 5. Like others before (others who were not drafted), a contract issue has resulted in a well thought of international amateur being available after only one professional season. Last year, the Yankees signed Luis to a 4 MM contract. However, that deal had to be scrubbed and a new one for 2.5 MM was written. Players who are on their second contract automatically qualify for the Rule 5, so he is for the taking. That said, he saw only 30 innings in the GCL last year, showing wretched command. He has a very promising fastball/slider combo with a decent projection for his change up. He is a solid prospect to have in an organization, but I think it would be hard for any team to keep him on a MLB squad all season long. Perhaps a club like the Astros or Marlins could manage that. I doubt the Orioles can.
Brian Moran, Seattle Mariners
Moran is not a flashy player. He does not throw particularly hard. His stuff does not really grade out as impressive. He gives up a lot of fly balls. All he seems to do is perform. Last year, he induced a swinging strike rate of 19% while striking out a third of the batters he faced. He was outright dominant against lefthanders with a FIP of 1.50 and a SIERA of 1.31. Righties performed nearer to league average. When all is said and done, sometimes you have to forget appearances and go with what a pitcher has done. It might be time to stop explaining why Moran is not your traditional prospect and simply let him play. Here is a video we shot of him leading up to the 2009 draft.
Ronan Pacheco, Atlanta Braves
Pacheco is a 6'6 lefty who has a relatively slim build. He has struggled in his stints at AA, which is likely what made the Braves not protect him. However, he did have a groundball rate in the upper 60s, which is quite interesting to me. He throws a low 90s, heavy fastball that induces groundballs. Pacheco pairs that with a slow curveball and a rather poor changeup or so it appears from his massive splits. He does walk a lot of batters and that issue would make it hard for him to be helpful even in a junkball role on a team. Long term though, he appears to be a decent LOOGY prospect for the Braves.
Of course, one wonders to what extent the Orioles actually have space in their bullpen for a Rule 5 draftee. The pen has six pitchers who have no options remaining (i.e., Zach Britton, Kelvin De La Cruz, Edgmer Escalona, Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton, and Josh Stinson). Added to that, you have Mike Belfiore, Brad Brach, Steve Johnson, Brian Matusz, Darren O'Day, T.J. McFarland, and Ryan Webb realistically in the fold as well. Other pitchers on the 40 man, I imagine, will either be starting or in Norfolk.
Clearly unsettled at this point, but the seven man pen is likely to have five right handers and two left handers. There is a growing feeling that if Matusz cannot establish himself as a starting pitcher that he will be sent on to the pastures of another Major League team. That likely places Britton or McFarland in along with Patton. However, I don't think any southpaw has made the team yet. For the right handers, Darren O'Day, Ryan Webb, and Tommy Hunter seem like sure things. De La Cruz and Escalona appear to have the inside track on the other two slots if no closer is added. However, if a closer is added or Bud Norris is sent there then it gets very crowded with a large number of guys with no options involved. It would not be surprising to see a Rule 5 selection be a simple look-see at a player. It would also not be surprising to see a decent number of these pitchers going places in trades.
Below is the current 40 man roster with options listed.