Now that teams are starting to finalize their rosters prior to today's deadline, I thought it might be fun to create a thread and look at some of the players who will be available to us in this year's Rule 5 draft. We'll be picking second in the draft order, and as such, should have a good opportunity to come away with a useful talent (or two?).
Here are some of the options I like - please add your own in the comments. I'll try to add more to my list periodically, time permitting, though I'm going to be out of town for most of this weekend.
Yohan Pino , RHSP, 6'3'', 158 lbs, born 12/26/83, Cleveland's system. A Venezuelan originally signed by the Twins , Pino was traded to the Indians in the Carl Pavano deal last year. His fastball only reaches the high 80s, and he lacks the physical projection to add any more velocity, but he's got a good curve and slider and strong command of all his pitches. He misses bats (8.1 career K/9), doesn't give many free passes (2.2 career BB/9), and keeps the ball in the park (0.7 HR/9) despite being a flyball pitcher. He's been primarily used as a starter, but also has some experience in relief, and could handle either role. His health record is largely clean - there was some trouble with one of his feet in 2008, but it doesn't seem to have had any lasting effects.
Finesse pitchers sometimes experience diminishing returns with promotion, but I think Pino is a fairly good bet to succeed in the majors, insofar as his component rates have remained strong against more advanced competition (8.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 in 127 IP this year, mostly at AAA). He does not have a star-level ceiling, which might turn off a front office that reached for the sky with Veal last year, but I think he could do well at the back end of a rotation or in a bullpen for a number of years, and he would be useful right away.
Aneury Rodriguez , RHSP, 6'3", 180 lbs, born 12/13/1987, Tampa Bay's system. Like Pino, Rodriguez was dealt by his original team in 2009, moving from the Rockies to the Rays in exchange for Jason Hammel early in the year. He has better raw stuff than Pino, however, with a fastball that's already in the low 90s and some projection remaining on his frame. He also has a good curveball, and a fairly advanced feel for a changeup for a pitcher of his age (which is not necessarily the same thing as having a functional change for MLB, of course). He maintains a good strikeout rate (career 8.0 K/9) and is solid on walks (career 3.1 BB/9) and home runs (career 0.9 HR/9) despite flyball tendencies. He has been used exclusively as a starter in his pro career, though some scouts see him as a potential bullpen option, and his health record is clean.
Rodriguez has more upper-minors experience than some "live arm" picks, having spent all of 2009 in the rotation of AA Montgomery, but at this point he is probably not ready to compete in the majors, and would likely need to be hidden in a Vogelsong-type role of multi-inning low-leverage situations. He has some weaknesses typical of young pitchers, including a tendency to overthrow, and he could be frustrating to watch next season. Still, he has the potential to be a relatively high-value option down the road, occupying a spot in our rotation in late 2011 or 2012.
Cole Rohrbough , LHSP, 6'3'', 205 lbs., born 5/23/87, Atlanta's system. One of the last high-priced draft-and-follow players before the system was abolished, Rohrbough signed for $675,000 as a 22nd-round pick out of Western Nevada College in 2006 - second-round money at the time. He has a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a big curveball that can be a killer when it's on, and a changeup that's a work in progress. He was regarded as one of Atlanta's top prospects coming into 2009, but had inconsistent mechanics, which led to inconsistent command of his pitches. He also experienced some shoulder soreness last year, though no injury was found, and it was attributed to tendinitis. His rate stats were sound, though not exceptional, with the walk rate (3.7 BB/9) being the biggest concern. His ERA, while ugly, was much higher than those component rates would suggest.
Rohrbough is fairly raw, with no experience above A+ and inconsistent mechanics. He would probably need to be hidden like Veal was last year. There's a fairly high chance that he'll be a bust, but there's also a very high ceiling here - he could be a front-of-the-rotation starter if everything goes right. The team's success with a similar type of pitcher in Veal last year may encourage them to go back to the same well once more with Rohrbough, and we certainly have a need for lefty power arms.
John Raynor , R/R LF/CF, 6'2'', 185 lbs., born 1/4/84, Florida's system. A 9th-round pick out of UNC-Wilmington in 2006, Raynor was the Sally League MVP in 2007. He's one of the fastest players in the minors - timed at 6.3 in the 60 yard dash, with 141 stolen bases in only 418 career games, at a career success rate of 83%. He's mostly played left field, due to a weak throwing arm and some questionable defensive instincts, but could potentially play center with continued improvement. With the bat in his hands, he leverages his foot speed to hit for a good average (.298 career), and can pop a decent number of line drives. He has holes in his swing, however, leading to a fairly high K rate, and he'll probably never have much over-the-fence power. Raynor played at AAA in 2009 and struggled, posting a .255/.326/.357 raw line at New Orleans. His batting average on balls in play this year was significantly below his career norms, however, suggesting that luck may have been partially responsible for his poor performance. He had been dominant in both 2007 and 2008, but was a little bit old for his leagues, so the performance might need to be discounted somewhat. To further complicate matters analytically, he broke a bone in his hand playing in the AFL after the 2008 season, which may have dragged down his 2009 numbers.
The Pirates don't have a crying need for outfielders, but you never say "no" to talent, and it's not a ludicrous fit. Our backup CF from last season (Salazar) is a free agent, and Gorkys is probably at least a year away from being ready for the majors. We could carry Raynor as our fifth outfielder and use him as a PH/PR, a caddy for Cutch, and a late-inning defensive replacement if Garrett Jones ends up as the starting RF. In time, he could develop into a Nyjer-like player if everything goes right, though he'll need to put in a lot of work for that to happen.
The 2010 CHONE projection for Raynor is a .247/.324/.359 line. That projection assumes that his 2009 was not affected by the injury.
Luis Marte , RHSP, 5'11'', 170 lbs., born 8/26/86, Detroit's system. One of several interesting players left unprotected by the Tigers, Marte is a solid pitching prospect despite his small frame. Signed at 19 out of the Dominican Republic, he features a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a good slider, and a spotty changeup. He has good control numbers (2.7 career BB/9) despite inconsistent command, and fairly high strikeout totals (7.4 career K/9), mostly due to his slider. He leaves balls up in the zone at times, leading to a higher-than-ideal number of home runs, and his lack of a solid changeup gives him problems against lefties, who hit .305 against him last year. He also has some medical red flags, spending time on the DL with both elbow and shoulder pain over the last two years, although in neither case was surgery needed. His velocity reportedly dipped into the high 80s on several occasions last year, possibly due to the tender arm.
In the majors, I see Marte as a short reliever with tactical value against righties, in the mold of Steve Reed or Scott Strickland. His aggressive approach should translate well to short relief, which would also minimize his risk of injury, and let him use his fastball and slider to best effect. If he could show improvement down the road with the change and become a true setup option, so much the better. That said, many teams will not even consider a RHP under six feet tall, so it's hard to know whether Marte would be a consideration for our scouts or not.
Brayan Villareal , RHSP, 6'0'', 170 lbs., born 10/5/87, Detroit's system. Another undersized Latin righty from the Tigers, Villareal is a high-risk, high-reward option. The Venezuelan's fastball routinely sits in the mid-90s and sometimes spikes higher, and it also has good life and sink. He complements it with an above-average slider and a pretty decent changeup for a kid in A-ball. He enjoyed a breakout season in the Midwest League this year, striking out more than ten batters per nine innings, and allowing only five home runs in 103 1/3 innings pitched. This was, unfortunately, almost the entirety of his experience in the American minors, as he missed almost all of 2007 and 2008 due to Tommy John surgery. He was used mainly as a starter last year, but also spent some time in the bullpen, in an effort to limit his total innings.
Villareal is a high-ceiling talent, advanced for his age and regarded as someone who could move quickly through the Tigers system, but his lack of even mid-minors experience means that he probably could not be counted on to contribute much in the majors next year. His injury history and small size present risks, but if he remains healthy and continues to develop, he could be a #2 or #3 starter.
Danny Dorn , LH LF/1B, 6'2'', 190 lbs., born 7/20/84, Cincinnati's system. One of the heroes of Cal State-Fullerton's College World Series championship squad in 2006, Dorn was a 32nd-round pick in the 2006 draft who has consistently outplayed the expectations of scouts. His bat is his best tool, with good contact ability and solid power, thanks to sound mechanics and a high flyball rate. He doesn't draw many walks because he doesn't go deep into counts. He also has a fairly dramatic platoon split: .299/.370/.497 against RHP in 2009, but only .189/.238/.365 against LHP. For his career as a whole, it's just as dramatic: .312/.394/.554 against RHP, .215/.310/.356 against LHP. L/R offensive splits ARE predictive for left-handed batters, and as such, he would probably need to be platooned rigorously in the majors. He's not particularly toolsy, and has below-average speed. Defensively, he's limited to LF or 1B due to both a lack of speed and an injury to his throwing shoulder suffered in his college days, though he's a competent enough fielder at both spots. His health record as a pro is fairly clean, with a few minor nagging injuries but no serious problems since the shoulder injury.
Dorn has the ability to be a solid platoon starter in the majors right away, but his lack of positional flexibility and his problems with RHP will impose tactical limitations on his manager and limit his ultimate upside. He'll probably always be more of a complementary part on a good team, rather than a core player - he's drawn some scouting comparisons to Garret Anderson. Still, his swing would look good in our park, we could use a challenger for Brandon Moss in the corner outfield, and Dorn's made a habit of exceeding expectations.
The 2010 CHONE projection for Dorn is a .257/.321/.452 line.
To be continued...