30 November 2015

Working Our Way Through The 2015 Rule 5 Fodder: Introduction And Infield

If you are searching for a comprehensive Rule 5 series, this is not it.  I will direct you over to Baseball America who does a decent job, but certainly makes certain conclusions that I disagree with.  For instance, it is noted that available Astro catcher Roberto Pena could improve upon his pitch presentation.  Based on the analysis I have seen, he actually rates as one of the best pitch framers in the minors.  So, yeah, don't take their word as gospel.  Likewise, think critically with my words as well.

Anyway, this series will look at areas where the Orioles might have some interest in checking out a player in Spring Training.  This means my focus will be one backup infielders and fourth outfielders.  Given the current trio of catchers on the 40 man roster, I see little need for the club to dabble behind the plate.  With the need to keep Dylan Bundy in the pen, I doubt pitchers are targeted.  The club would be interested in a starting pitcher, but those simply do not exist in the Rule 5.  This post will look at the five available infield prospects that I find most interesting.

Matt Skole, 1B
Washington Nationals
Year Age Tm Lev PA 2B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG
2011 21 Auburn A- 319 23 5 42 52 .290 .382 .438
2012 22 Hagerstown A 448 18 27 94 116 .286 .438 .574
2012 22 Potomac A+ 76 10 0 5 17 .314 .355 .486
2013 23 Harrisburg AA 7 1 0 2 2 .200 .429 .400
2014 24 Harrisburg AA 544 29 14 78 127 .241 .352 .399
2015 25 Harrisburg AA 365 14 12 44 92 .232 .332 .398
2015 25 Syracuse AAA 182 9 8 28 35 .238 .357 .457
Minors (5 seasons) Minors 1941 104 66 293 441 .260 .374 .452
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2015.

The Orioles need a first baseman and the Nationals' left hander could be a useful challenger for that role even if the club resigns the slightly versatile Chris Davis.  Skole started out as a third baseman, but a lack of range worked against him and the presence of Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon extinguished what meager light there was.

A high average and big power hitter in low minors, Skole has not seen as much success with the upper minors which was accompanied by a blown out knee in 2013.  Skole still shows big time power, but his profile is emerging as a strong platoon side bat with contact issues.  We could call him a poor man's Pedro Alvarez.

In my opinion, Skole is one of the more obvious selections, but whose ability to stay in the Majors in 2016 is a bit doubtful.  Skole was one of the players I identified in my "hidden diamonds" college features back in the day, which have been shown to identify players who have outperformed where they were drafted.  I still have hope in him.  Another 1B that was also identified by that process was Christian Walker.

Balbino Fuenmayor, 1B
Kansas City Royals
Year Age Lev PA 2B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG
2007 17 Rk 197 5 1 12 68 .174 .244 .242
2008 18 Rk 197 14 3 11 48 .307 .360 .458
2010 20 A 372 20 9 20 123 .220 .266 .373
2011 21 A--A 354 18 6 22 75 .249 .305 .366
2012 22 A- 283 20 9 14 82 .282 .325 .471











2013 23 A 108 4 4 8 32 .208 .287 .396
2015 25 AA-AAA 378 28 17 12 59 .358 .384 .589
Minors (8 seasons) Minors 2324 130 57 108 606 .266 .308 .419
Foreign (6 seasons) Foreign 357 14 16 18 96 .290 .339 .483
Other (2 seasons) Other 675 43 36 33 116 .331 .370 .575
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2015.

Balbino Fuenmayor is interesting for several reasons.  He was one of the major international signings by the Blue Jays in 2006.  His batting practice power looked immense, but never quite translated into games along with a poor walk rate and little contact.  After a poor stint in single A, the Blue Jays cut him loose.  Backed up by decent winter league numbers and an explosive 675 PA in Indy ball, Balbino was given a second chance with the Royals last year.  He responded by excelling in AA and AAA before his season ended with a torn ACL.

As such, the right hander shows promise, but full of concerns.  His ACL injury may make it difficult to keep him on an active roster.  He will need to spend most of the season with the club and has only so much time to spend on the disabled list or on rehab assignment.  His game is so dependent on contact that there is concern that his low walk rate will make it struggle for him to be a positive contributor at the MLB level.  He might be one of the more exciting names out there, but I doubt anyone will give him much of a shot.

Alex Yarbrough, 2B
Anaheim Angels
YearAgeLevPA2BHRBBSOBAOBPSLG
201220A-AA2751301023.275.307.393
201321A+615321127106.313.341.459
201422AA59238533124.285.321.397
201523AAA54529326136.236.274.324
All Levels (4 Seasons)20271121996389.279.313.396
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2015.

Yarbrough, perhaps, looks far more interesting than he really is.  A quick skim will find him as a switch hitting second baseman with some defensive accolades, strong gap-to-gap power, and decent contact until last year.  In reality, while he has sure hands, his range is atrocious, he was unable to do anything at the plate in the high flying Pacific Coast League, and has always swung and missed even with the less advanced pitchers at each level.

That said, the previous stretches of decent contact and doubles power might intrigued some.  Poor defensive range at second base can be somewhat mitigated by utilizing defensive shifts (a practice the Angels have been loathe to incorporate).  He could be worth a closer look to certain teams who might be able to make the most of his abilities and minimize the risk of his deficiencies.

Ronny Rodriguez, 2B/3B
Cleveland Indians
YearAgeLevPA2BHRBBSOBAOBPSLG
201119A39428111383.246.274.449
201220A+48320191988.264.300.452
201321AA4982551676.265.291.376
201422AA4472552592.228.270.324
201523AA28514111060.286.316.491
Minors (5 seasons)Minors21071125183399.256.289.412
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2015.

Rodriguez is in a similar boat defensively as Yarbrough, but is blessed with a plus plus arm that lets him competently throw across the diamond from the hot corner.  He once was a promising prospect in the Indians systems whose 2012 season has the club wondering about his ability to be a power mashing middle infielder, but two heavily depressed seasons later took a significant hit to his standing.  Last year was promising.  After missing half the season with a wrist injury, Rodriguez' third stint in AA gave a kickstart.  He showed power and decent contact while at a still reasonable age for a prospect.

With Rodriguez' ability to play third and first while being protected at second, he should be seen as valuable.  He appears to be a player similar in profile to Ryan Flaherty and can probably play shortstop in a pinch as well.  If the club wishes to save half a million, Rodriguez might be an option.

Jacob Wilson, 2B/3B
St. Louis Cardinals
Year Age Lev PA 2B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG
2012 21 A- 179 7 6 13 33 .275 .341 .444
2013 22 A-A+ 546 28 18 57 74 .243 .336 .424
2014 23 AA-A+ 283 25 5 23 47 .302 .362 .460
2015 24 AA 141 6 7 17 25 .225 .326 .450
2015 24 AAA 342 14 11 23 68 .231 .292 .391
Minors (4 seasons) Minors 1491 80 47 133 247 .254 .330 .428
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/25/2015.

Jacob Wilson is more of a true utility player.  He can man second, third, and left field, possessing a plus arm.  He shows power and a decent understanding of the strike zone.  Contact was an issue in the upper minors and may expose a major deficiency in his profile as he faces more advanced pitching.  He appears to have a lower ceiling than Rodriguez, but a higher floor.  That floor though is as a bench player in AAA.  However, many clubs do look at that walk rate and decent defense, finding Wilson to be an uncommonly safe player to bet on as a Rule 5 acquired role player.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Skole's AA-AAA splits last year strike me as somewhat odd
He's a LHB who hit: (vs RHP 386 PA) .222/.337/.403 (vs LHP 161 PA) .264/.348/.450
These reverse splits only surfaced this year (his splits in 2014 and 2012 were more traditional, injured much of 2013).
MLBTR suggested something in a rather strange article (by their standards) posted either yesterday or the day before that essentially looked at who the Phillies might take overall (again, this was one of the strangest articles I've ever read on there). The suggestion was that Balbino Fuenmayor could be one of two picks for a given team; they could take a pitcher and also Fuenmayor who could start the year on the DL. I could see the Orioles doing something like that, especially if the first player was an easier 'safer' guy to keep.
Ronny Rodriguez is interesting. Seems like he has some upside, plus has spent significant minor league time at SS (2274 Innings), 2B (1363), 1B (442.1), and 3B (332.1). Could be worth a cheap look.

Jon Shepherd said...

Yes, it was a weird article with respect to scope. It felt like a lead paragraph or something was missing.

Re: Fuenmayor. The difficulty I foresee is that he might be a hard person to keep on the active roster for 90 days (which is what is required to be allowed to demote the player the following season, otherwise Rule 5 rules continue to apply). In other words, he is expected to be able to play in game around mid-May to early June. He would then be permitted to serve a 20 day rehab assignment. That puts him on the MLB roster between mid to late June. At that point, he cannot hit the DL again or else he won't serve 90 days in the Majors. That said, he would be no different than someone like Ji-Man Choi who has a mid June opt out date, so who knows? He probably is a very safe selection, but not much of a shot at sticking.

Re: Redriguez. Those innings are largely a product of a less filled out youth and a lower bar of defensive adeptness. He can stand there. He cannot play there without sinking the club.

Re; Skole. My guess is that weird things happen.

C Moore said...



If your looking to add a player via rule 5 draft
then your not competing for the playoffs -period.
Playoff teams lose guys to rule 5 - they certainly dont carry them
all year. The Phillies had a nice rule 5 pick in 2015 - they could afford to
but you dont see the Dodgers or other "contending " teams in 2015 carrying
those rule 5 guys.

IF that is the case they should blow it up. Keep Machado - but acquire
prospects /assets for every one else - Re load the system.

Jon Shepherd said...

That is a pretty restricted view of things and ignores precedent. Last year did not see any Rule 5 players on the playoffs teams, but that was not the case is years prior. Many people who come here are Orioles fans and I am sure they remember Ryan Flaherty in 2012.

The Rule 5 has shown to be a perfectly fine place for a junk inning reliever with promise, utility players, and back up catchers. It is not a great place to find talent, but it would be ill advised to suggest that there are no potentially useful players.

Anonymous said...

Another way for DDDD to stay cheap. Look at all the other teams making moves, PLEASE JUST DO SOMETHING!!!!

Jon Shepherd said...

Not that many teams have made moves. It has been pretty quiet this year. Things should pick up around the league in the next few weeks.

Philip said...

Jon you're mistaken re:rule 5 guys on playoff teams. Delino DeShields was a rule 5 for the Rangers and I think Sean Gilmartin was with the Mets. And Logan Verrett had meaningful innings with the Mets after being returned by the Rangers.
Meanwhile, the Orioles would pick 15th if every team drafted.
Do we know what pick they'll actually have?
Do you think any of these guys will fall far enough the Orioles will have the option of taking them?
I guarantee Dan will make a pick. He is abnormally fond of the "something for nothing" concept.

Philip said...

Odubel Herrera was worth 3.9 WAR for the Phillies.
It's possible.
However someone said his one-year WAR was higher than the career WAR of any player chosen since the rule change...so it might be unlikely.

Jon Shepherd said...

Ah...sometimes my memory is as sharp as a marble.

Jon Shepherd said...

Oh...no idea yet what pick it will be. I would imagine two or three of these guys will be available.

C Moore said...



It certainly can be done - my point was its a long shot
odds are against you - but your right its only 50K
Rondon - Cubs closer was rule 5 from Indians, but they knew they were not
competing and would lose 90 games. So that was really my point - for ATL, Phil, Cinn, Col? It makes sense - but are the Orioles trying to win the division? If so you cant carry 1 guy ( 2 if you count Bundy) that you have to hide.

Anonymous said...

Just read JJ Cooper's article and was very surprised to find almost no overlap between his suggestions and your names.
Do you think the interesting guys he mentioned will be gone when the Orioles pick?
Or did you just disagree with his ideas?

Jon Shepherd said...

I think with any Rule 5 piece that there is a great deal of difference in the boards. This is all middling talent with players who either have a lot of average tools or one big one to go with several deficient ones. In such a population, you have a lot of similar players where the evaluator simply goes to what he feels most comfortable with.

That said...I have not read Coopers piece. His view may be more in line with his industry contacts. BA almost exclusively reports and does not assess on their own. My list is my assessment and, in this case, I did not call my guys to validate my interest.

Jon Shepherd said...

Ha...I did read that piece. Rough week. Yeah...there were some weird things reported in there. Roberto Pena is known for his pitch handling. Some of the other names feel more like a who's who. Of course, again, his job is to find the pulse of the market, so his list might well be more relevant.

Jon Shepherd said...

Ha...I did read that piece. Rough week. Yeah...there were some weird things reported in there. Roberto Pena is known for his pitch handling. Some of the other names feel more like a who's who. Of course, again, his job is to find the pulse of the market, so his list might well be more relevant.

Anonymous said...

Question: If the player is currently only playing at the 2A level (or lower), can an organization take him via the Rule 5 draft and place him on the 3A affiliate for a year?

(I'm asking because this would be one way to get around the issue of having to create a spot on the 25-man roster if allowed.)

Jon Shepherd said...

Each affiliate has a roster. Players on the AAA roster do not necessarily have to play for AAA, so those have to be kept on the active roster. Players not placed on the AAA roster can be had in the minor league portion of the draft and play anywhere.