05 December 2017

Four Unprotected Rule 5 Pitchers

Last week, I took a look at a few left handed outfield bats that might be appreciated by the Orioles in the Rule 5 draft.  As noted then, the Orioles are fairly active in this draft and do their best to retain who they select.  However, they have also shown the ability to walk away from a player when that player does not provide them with the looks they were hoping to see.  In this post, we will take a look at four available pitchers.  I did have a fifth one, but for various reasons I was requested to not mention him when I was doing my typical call around. (oooh, intrigue).

So what do I look for in a Rule 5 pitcher?  Well, it is the same thing I look for in a MiL free agent.  I want to see a lot of swinging strikes and a good peripherals.  My approach is a little more complex (just a tad), but a simple way to look at this is whether there are any pitchers on a AA or AAA launchpad to the majors who have shown above average performance with metrics like swinging strikes, weak contact, groundballs, etc.  This collection of four pitchers are those who I found who have excelled at these.

The Lefthanded Option
Jordan Guerrero
Register Pitching
Year Age Lev DRA IP BB9 SO9
201218Rk5.439.04.06.0
201319Rk5.9025.11.85.3
201420A3.1078.03.19.2
201521A+-A2.31149.01.98.9
201622AA5.66136.04.87.1
201723AA2.64146.12.68.4
All All
543.23.08.2
AA (AA (Minors
282.13.77.8
A (2A (2Minors
133.12.59.5
Rk (Rk (Minors
34.12.45.5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/4/2017.

Jordan Guerrero has some knocks against him.  He does not throw hard, whihc means he has less room for failure as he faces more advanced hitting.  Throwing 90 or 91 mph is playing around the threshold of effective starting pitching.  Guerrero has also shown a need to repeat leagues, though that may be a product of his age.  For a club like the Orioles who have some post-season hopes, a pitcher who has major issues in his first taste of more advanced hitting might well find most if not all of his time sitting on the bench unused.  While Duquette may have employed the log view at times, it often seems as if Buck tolerates far fewer shows of below average production and a suspiciousness to players who may be on the roster for reasons other than good play.

He also relies heavily on his fastball/changeup mix.  Even with uneven breaking material, he still manages to handle left handers rather well with good mechanics and control.  Most see him as a pitcher who could be implemented well out of the bullpen with an eye to a 5th starter role post-2018.  For the Orioles, this might be intriguing as the club as a major lack of MLB ready starters and may need to implement more of a revolving doors of arms this year.

The Righthanders
James Farris
Register Pitching
Year Age Lev DRA IP BB9 SO9
201422A-1.5414.01.913.5
201523A-A+4.0246.23.510.8
201624AA-A+1.6466.02.310.1
201624Fal0.00*10.01.810.8
201725AAA-AA2.3757.22.710.8
201725Fal11.57*9.13.98.7
MinoMinoMinors
184.12.710.7
OtheOtheOther
19.12.89.8
All All
203.22.710.6
AA (AA (Minors
54.22.010.9
A+ (A+ (Minors
47.23.010.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/4/2017.

James Farris is an interesting pitcher.  He was a rock bottom senior sign for the Cubs, receiving a paltry $4,000 signing bonus (his four years of professional play have netted him somewhere around $36-44K total).  This past fall saw his second outing in the Arizona Fall League, which went way way worse than the first time around.  His performance in Arizona, is largely attributed to him having terrible BABIP issues.  He comes across as a right handed version of Guerrero.  He throws around 90-91 and relies heavily on his changeup and a change of pace breaking ball.  Farris may be a reverse splits pitcher due to his fastball/changeup interplay.

A potential drawback for the Orioles selecting Farris is that there really is no reason to think he can work deep into games.  His usage has been more or less as a crafty right handed closer for the Cubs and, last year, Rockies.  That said, it is hard to look past his double digit strikeout rates that he has accomplished in spite of his lack of velocity.  The club could see a strong fit with him as the fourth or fifth right hander in the pen.

Jake Reed
Register Pitching
Year Age Lev DRA IP BB9 SO9
201421A-Rk1.8631.00.911.3
201522AA-A+3.4759.13.37.0
201623AA-AAA3.0270.23.19.2
201724AAA-AA4.1238.04.07.8
Year Age Lev
IP BB9 SO9
MinoMinoMinors
199.03.08.6
OtheOtheOther
23.12.77.7
All All
222.13.08.5
AAA AAA Minors
41.12.87.2
AA (AA (Minors
114.13.98.7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/4/2017.

Jake Reed has a more compelling repertoire to stick as a reliever than Guerrero or Farris.  He employs a heavy mid 90s fastball with a slider and change up that at times appear useful.  He does not give up home runs, tends to keep the ball on the ground, but has bouts of control issues.  He is a player who when you look at him, he looks far more like a successful reliever than he actually has been in practice.  2017, though hindered with an oblique injury, left some hope with him tossing 30.2 IP of 2.05 ERA ball in AAA.

Reed is an arm that might strike the Orioles fancy. He is a hard thrower. He puts the ball on the ground.  Although these attributes are not hard requirements to be an Orioles pitcher, the club tends to lean in these directions and Reed shows promise with both of those.  Of course, there is not multi-demensionality of his pitching role.  He is a bullpen arm and nothing other than a bullpen arm.  That could be useful, but, again, the club is likely to look toward arms with secondary potential to fill in the rotation.

Burch Smith
Register Pitching
Year Age Lev DRA IP BB9 SO9
201121Rk4.112.04.518.0
201222A+2.13128.21.99.6
201323AAA-AA2.2992.12.29.9
201323MLB5.4836.15.211.4
201424AAA5.205.18.45.1
201424Fal5.52*14.23.15.5
201727A+-AAA-Rk3.8656.13.88.9
201727Fal3.98*20.14.912.8
Year Age Lev
IP BB9 SO9
MinoMinoMinors284.22.59.5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/4/2017.

There is an old scouting adage about prospects: if they flash it, they own it.  It is an idea that basically means that if a prospect flashes a plus tool that, with maturation, they will grow into a more consistent ownership of that tool.  That perspective bleeds into other assessments and when it does it gets a bit worrisome.  This year, Burch Smith has been the recipient of that perspective.

Smith is coming off a very long Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation.  His surgery was on April 2015, but he suffered several setbacks and did not get back out into competitive play until midway through this past season.  He would enter games pretty hot.  He was capable of touching mid to high 90s, but would very quickly lose that and settle around 91-92 and cratering if left in longer than once through the lineup.  This is not new and was a trait that plagued him pre-surgery, too.  He throws a curve with decent movement, but that movement comes in a way where bats should rarely miss it.  He has some trouble getting much out of his changeup, which poses some issues for him profiling as a long reliever.  He has also played around with a cutter, but it is uncertain to what extent he will try to utilize this pitch in the future or how well it will be used.

That all said, he was particularly devastating to the first couple batters he would face before fatigue would erode his mechanics and velocity.  To those who think he can be a starter, that is based on his having been a starter once and carrying the residual starter's collection of pitches.  What is probably in front of him is like as a fastball and curveball heavy pitcher with emphasis on the fastball.  You might be able to see something Tommy Hunter-ish if you squint.  But, yes, he looks like a decent Rule 5 pickup, but there certainly are reasons why he was left off the 40 man roster.

Conclusion
As always, no one really shines forth in this draft as an amazing talent.  You have talents who have major red flags; be it talent, performance, or injury based.  The above are all interesting.  They are all arms that a club would like to have in their system, but perhaps no so much as to have to put them on an active roster or even a 40 man roster.

6 comments:

Unknown said...

Fascinating. I might have missed the stat explanation in the article but what is DRA?
"Defensive runs allowed" wouldn't apply to pitching, would it?
Meanwhile, Dan has frequently ignored draft-eligible players on top-30 lists and gone randomly into the system for guys he liked.
Garcia and Santander were two such, I think.
It's impossible to go through every eligible player and Dan seems to have little pattern in his choices but I do hope he chooses a higher floor than a higher ceiling. Flaherty and McFarland were no stars but they did make genuine contributions in their time with us.

Jon Shepherd said...

Santander wad a top 30 guy. I don't remember with Garcia.

Unknown said...

Crapola.

Unknown said...

Mcfarland genuine contribution as...an extra batting practice pitcher?

Jon Shepherd said...

This is frankly a wholly ignorant comment to go along with typically ignorant comments. If you have difficulty remembering back to 2013 or 2014 then please try to use Google before making foolish comments.

Comments are for people to add to the conversation as opposed to saying silly things that defy reality. To say McFarland contributed nothing indicates no understanding of the game or willingness to be genuinely curious about it.

Please try harder.

Unknown said...

I think Matt Hobgood is available... he just won a hot dog eating contest at the Pasadena county fair!