26 November 2012

Seeking Value in the Rule 5 Draft (2012)

The 2011 Rule 5 draft was arguably a success as the Orioles carried utility man Ryan Flaherty the entire season after selecting him from the Chicago Cubs organization.  Before the season, Baseball America placed him as the 7th best prospect in the Orioles' system with his entire worth placed on his bat playing in the infield with hopes that his defense would become adequate.  Neither proved incredibly useful to the Orioles.  His final line over 167 plate appearances was 216/258/359, a .270 wOBA, and -0.7 UZR (with negative value coming from third and corner outfield positions).  Perhaps what most fans will remember though was his home run against the Yankees in the American League Division Series.

Flaherty will enter into his second Spring Training with the Orioles.  He no longer will be competing with Robert Andino for second base after the Andino-Robinson deal went down.  However, he will be competing with Luis Alexi Casilla, a little-bit-too-green Jonathan Schoop, an on-the bubble Omar Quintanilla, an unlikely Brian Roberts, and whoever is picked up (spring invite, free agent, or trade).  Dan Duquette has mentioned in a number of articles after the Casilla wire pickup that he was prepared to go into Spring Training with the second base position as is.  That does not mean he will rest on his laurels though.  Second base is still quite a position of need in addition to left field and everyone could use another pitcher.

Skimming through the Rule 5 eligible list, I found five players of interest:

Ryan Buchter, LHP
26 years old
Atlanta Braves

Mississippi AA 41.1 10.9 4.1 36 3.00
Gwinnett AAA 8 5.6 19.1 42 7.90
The Braves are Buchter's third organization.  He was originally drafted by the Nationals, but was dealt to the Cubs for Matt Avery who has not been in professional ball after the 2009 season.  In 2011, he was on the move again when the Braves traded for his services in exchange for Rodrigo Lopez.  It is obviously by his travels that he has attributes that are valued, but he has never appeared on any major publications top prospect rankings for any organization he has been a part of.  So what can do he so well?  He strikes batters out.  What does he not do well?  He walks everyone.  He does this with a low to mid 90s four seamer that he mixes with a good cutter (the supposed anathema in the current Orioles regime).  Being a lefty with a decent strikeout rate, he likely is worth a flyer for someone in Spring Training.  The Os are in need, or want, for a lefty in the pen, so he might be an option.

Braulio Lara, LHP
24 years old
Tampa Rays

Charlotte A+ 112 6.59 4.66 42 4.67
As mentioned by Baseball America, Lara is a player organizations can dream on, but who likely provides very little value in the near term.  The hope is that his low to mid 90s fastball and simply focusing on his inconsistent curveball as a reliever could bring out near term value.  The Rays have been keeping him as a starting pitcher, but his struggles may have reached the point where from this point forward they see what he can do as a reliever.  Lara might have the best chance for sticking with an organization that does not have playoff hopes.  The Orioles may view their roster spots as too precious to hold onto a not-ready-for-prime-time arm.

Jonathan Galvez, 2B/LF
22 years old
San Diego Padres

San Antonio AA 345 .295 .366 .432 111
This is Galvez' second year exposed to the Rule 5 draft.  He profiles as a bat first second baseman.  He has modest power for a second baseman and had a AA league average walk rate.  It is hard to see how Galvez is a better player right now than Ryan Flaherty, but maybe the Orioles' or some other's team scouts see something they like.  The Orioles could take a flyer and check him out for the entirety of Spring Training before having to send him back if he proves to be unworthy of an active roster slot.

Jeremy Hazelbaker, LF/CF
25 years old
Boston Red Sox

Portland AA 484 0.273 0.338 0.476 113
Hazelbaker has a lot of athleticism and shows plus-plus speed with a good head for the basepaths.  He has the tools to be an excellent fielder, but he has issues with proper route running and a slow first step.  He showed above average power last season in AA with average on base performance.  I'd rate him as a less impressive commodity than Trayvon Robinson, but, again, he may well be worth a flyer.  Hazelbaker has good enough defense, raw power, and uses his speed more effectively.  If he can provide similar defensive value as Robinson, his ceiling may be a bit higher as he could have a bat capable for left field.  He should be able to find someone willing to see whether they can fit him on their team.

Marc Krauss, LF
25 years old
Houston Astros

Mobile AA 429 0.281 0.415 0.5 129
Corpus Christi AA 35 0.414 0.514 1 211
OKC AAA 66 0.123 0.203 0.123 42

In 2009, Nick Faleris and I were discussing our plans for the shadow draft we were running in concert with the Orioles' draft.  I was a strong proponent of Marc Krauss while Nick was pushing for Todd Glaesmann (who was my target for the third round).  In the end, we chose Glaesmann over Krauss.  Krauss, with his poor body type and questionable bat speed, has found success and shown power at each step up the ladder.  It appears though after coming over in the Chris Johnson trade that the talent starved Astros do not see a need to put Krauss on the 40 man roster.  Krauss' poor defense and bad arm limit him to left field with his ceiling being somewhat like Luke Scott, but with a batting profile that is someone who should be limited against Major League right handed pitchers at this point in his career.  The Diamondbacks did try him out over 30 games at first base, but if the Orioles have one thing in abundance it is a number of guys who can play first base and left field.


Joelskil said...

Alexi Casilla, not Luis.

Jon Shepherd said...

Yeah, I wrote on Twitter yesterday how I noticed the mental slip up. Thought I corrected it on all of my pieces. Apparently not.


Philip Taggart said...

Thank you very much for covering this topic.
What about 1B Chris Mcguiness, who was AFL MVP?
I don't know how prestigious that award is, but his stats seem respectable, he's only 24, and I can't imagine why the rangers left him off the roster, unless they think he's too young to warrant being picked.

Jon Shepherd said...

Rule 5 guys are typically players who can fill backup roles. Who keeps backup 1B on their roster? How many MLB quality bats have been available since the new rules went into play?

Those two questions show that although McGuinness did well against uneven competition it does not mean he is good enough to hamper someone's bench. Krauss is a stretch and he can kind of be a 4th OF.

John Sede said...

There was more to Ryan's season than just that postseason homer. Buck Showalter is a great judge of baseball talent, and the O's keeping Flaherty the entire year speaks much towards the confidence they have that he's going to develop into a good player.

It was evident that Ryan was much improved at the plate near the end of the season. No true Oriole fan could forget this moment in September...


Jon Shepherd said...

True Oriole fan or not...it is a fringe bat. A bat that actually was performing better in July than at the end of the season. Him being kept in the picture is more a product of hoping that his offense comes around and that he now has three options to burn as well as how incredibly awful Orioles 2B were last year.