Rule 5 Results
With the fifth pick in the Rule 5 draft, Cleveland swiped Texas 1B Chris McGuiness. The second piece of the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade in 2010, McGuiness rebounded from an injury-plagued 2011 to hit .268/.366/.474 for AA Frisco this year. He followed with quality form in the Arizona Fall League. Among Texas's 40-man candidates, McGuiness's future was the most difficult to predict, as he had a decent but not high probability of being added to the 40, and (in my opinion) the same likelihood of being drafted.
Cleveland is sorely hurting at 1B. Notwithstanding a veteran placeholder signing, the plan is a wide-open audition next spring, so McGuiness has a legitimate shot to stick. I've seen various reports suggesting McGuiness could see time in left field, where he's never played professionally. We'll see.
19 picks later, Texas drafted RHP Coty Woods from the Rockies. A 33rd rounder from Middle Tennessee State in 2009, Woods spent three years in the lower levels before splitting 2012 between AA Tulsa and AAA Colorado Springs. The AA stint was masterful (34 runners in 35.2 innings, 0.76 ERA, 25% strikeout rate), while his introduction to the Pacific Coast League was a kick in the teeth (46 runners in 20.2 innings, 7.40 ERA, 12% strikeout rate).
Woods pitched well in the Arizona Fall League (11.1 IP, 3.18 IP, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts). On November 7th, he struck out Texas's Kellin Deglan and Luis Sardinas as part of a scoreless 9th. Here's brief video of his appearance in the AFL Rising Stars game: http://atmlb.com/WMdavW. Woods generates good velocity for a sidearmer (90-92) along with a slider and change. Last year, righties hit .242/.300/.338 against him, lefties .284/.364/.431. His splits in 2011 were much more pronounced, not uncommon for a sidearmer. I suspect Texas's roster will undergo significant change between now and March, so it's difficult to assess his probability of reaching Arlington (aside from the stock statement that almost all R5 picks are long shots).
In the Triple-A portion of the draft, Texas selected Cincinnati 3B/2B Marquez Smith, who had signed with the Reds only a few weeks ago. Drafted four times, Smith finally signed with the Cubs as an eighth-rounder out of Clemson in 2007. As a 25-year-old in 2010, Smith batted .314/.384/.574 for AAA Iowa but was left off Chicago's 40-man roster and unclaimed in that winter's Rule 5 draft. Smith didn't hit as well in 2011 and also missed two months with a hand injury. Released at the tail end of Spring Training 2012, he labored in the Mexican League and independent Atlantic League before signing with Boston, where he batted .293/.350/.464 for AA Portland.
With the subsequent pick, Oakland nabbed Texas 3B Tommy Mendonca. Selected 62nd overall in 2009 and considered a bit of a reach at that spot, the Fresno State alum batted .260/.322/.435 across four seasons. He came to Texas as a big power bat with doubts about his ability to make contact. After a trying 2010 (.248/.331/.391 in the high-octane California League), Mendonca made the most of a surprising 2011 assignment to AA Frisco by hitting .328/.386/.585 into July. Unfortunately, he cooled off considerably afterwards, and his time in AAA Round Rock this season laid bare his deficiencies (.208/.249/.329, 9 walks, 84 strikeouts).
2012 was the first year 3B Tommy Mendonca was eligible for the Rule 5 draft. In my preview last month, I mentioned him only in passing because he had zero chance of being added to the 40 or selected by another team. Indeed, Texas ultimately didn't even protect him on its AAA roster.
Unlike the MLB portion of the draft, these players have no roster requirements. Mendonca is gone for good. Texas can place Smith anywhere in its system without restraint.
Immediately after the draft, Texas sent RHP Wilfredo Boscan to San Diego as the player to be named in its acquisition of RHP Cory Burns. Boscan took a large step forward in 2012 but still wasn't among Texas's top pitching prospects. For a second consecutive year, he wasn't involved in any 40-man or Rule 5 proceedings.
Texas also signed four minor leaguers: RHP Jake Brigham (with whom you are familiar), 1B Brandon Allen, and RHPs Evan Meek and Randy Wells. I'll write about them tomorrow along with a winter-ball update.