40 Man Roster / Rule 5 Draft
In a week, Texas will finalize its 40-man roster in anticipation of the Rule 5 draft. In brief, players left off the 40 are eligible for the draft if 18 or younger when drafted/signed and have five seasons of experience, or 19 or older when drafted/signed with four seasons of experience. So, for the upcoming draft, eligible players include collegiate draftees from 2009 or earlier and under-19 players signed during or before 2008. Drafted players must remain on the MLB roster for the entire season or be offered back to the original team. If the original team declines, the drafting team can attempt to run the player through waivers.
The Rule 5 draft is a shadow of its former self. Under the old rules, teams had only three years to decide on older players and four on the younger ones. The 40-man decisions were tougher, and many more beguiling names were available. Texas would be deciding this winter about Frisco starter Nick Tepesch, infielder Luis Sardinas, and the three Rs in Surprise -- Rowen, Rodebaugh, Reyes. With the extra year, there's less projection, and the draft list is relatively dull, to be honest. But with little else of interest going on, it receives plenty of attention.
Even with the extra year, some players who might someday reach the Majors are too young to draft now. Many eligible players from south of the US have yet to turn 21 and haven't reached the upper minors. On the other side, college-drafted, mature products are indirectly competing against minor-league free agents who may have already seen MLB action. Why bother with an outfielder hindered by Rule 5 restrictions when you can sign Aaron Cunningham to a minor-league deal? The answer is, you don't, unless you see some untapped potential in the Rule 5 guy. The stock Rule 5 picks are walk-prone flamethrowers (who might benefit from different coaches), lefty specialists and utility players.
There are also AAA and AA phases of the draft with no restrictions. Texas routinely swipes a small handful of players every winter. The only recent loss was reliever Beau Vaughan, whose following season would be his last in affiliated ball.
Texas has six open spots on its 40-man roster. Even though I think only one player is a lock, I expect Texas to add others. Here's my assessment of the likelihood of Texas selecting the following players. Number in parentheses is age on Opening Day 2013.
MIF Leury Garcia (22) -- Book it.
LHP Chad Bell (24) -- Possible. Bell is a fairly mature product with a decent repertoire. He reaches lower 90s in relief. Limited upside.
LHP Joe Ortiz (22) -- Possible. Ortiz is a hard-throwing lefty with good control and a good K rate throughout most of his career. In AAA, his strikeout rate dipped and his mistakes were pummeled. Despite his 5'7" height, there's a good chance he's on someone's 40-man roster next March.
1B Chris McGuiness (25) -- Possible. Notwithstanding the Moreland comp, McGuiness does have a mature approach and a bat for first. Nobody's holding the door open for him; he'll have to break it down with his bat. Lack of versatility is a problem.
IF Odubel Herrera (21) -- Unlikely. Any team envisioning him as a utility infielder will take pause at his poor performance at shortstop. He hasn't reached AA. 2013 will be a critical season for him, in Frisco, ideally.
RHP Arlett Mavare (23) -- Unlikely. Gaudy K numbers (102 in 80 innings) but not a hard thrower and no experience above low-A.
OF Teodoro Martinez (21) -- Unlikely. Too green to be picked if unprotected.
RHP Wilfredo Boscan (23) -- Unlikely. In 2012, Boscan posted his best strikeout rate outside of rookie ball. I saw his playoff start and wasn't terribly impressed. Hard to see him matching up against big leaguers.
RHP Carlos Pimentel (23) -- Unlikely. Pimentel picked up some velocity this year and looked pretty darn special at times. He's still very erratic and hasn't improved his control a bit.
OF Joey Butler (27) -- Unlikely. Butler's produced back-to-back excellent AAA seasons, but he's a corner outfielder lacking a tool that sets him apart and facilitates an MLB bench spot. Still, another team could give him a shot.
1B Mike Bianucci (26) --Unlikely. Bianucci has tremendous raw power and two 30-homer seasons to his credit. The other tools aren't much in evidence and he's best suited to DH.
Other players eligible for the first time, to my knowledge: IF Santiago Chirino, C Vin DiFazio, 3B Tommy Mendoza, RHP Francisco Mendoza, RHP Jose Monegro, OF Jared Prince, RHP Matt Thompson, C Kevin Torres. News
Yesterday, I said Texas RHP Jon Edwards was undrafted. Not so. I'd forgotten he was drafted as an outfielder in the 14th round of 2006 by the Cardinals (Texas pick that round: lefty Mike Ballard).
Leury Garcia is starting in CF for Gigantes tonight. In Puerto Rico, ex-Ranger Ryan Tatusko is pitching to Jorge Alfaro, and Brandon Snyder and Mike Bianucci are manning the corners.
I promised my pitchers of the year. Combined with today's report, it would be in excess of 2,500 words, so I'll save it for tomorrow.
Newberg Report (newbergreport.com)