Looking over tomorrow's scheduled Rule 5 draft, I felt it would be wise to preview a few of the favorite players the early teams scheduled are scheduled to choose from.
The Yankees, through their trade of relief pitcher Brian Bruney a few days ago to the Nationals, are set to receive the first pick in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft. A lot of speculation has them trading this pick after its selection based on their prior history of not taking the Rule 5 too seriously. I'm guessing that the Yankees will select (or have Washington select the Yankees perferred choice) and keep him. Lots of speculation has the Yankees grabbing a high ceiling arm like Aneury Rodriguez or Edgar Osuna but my guess is that they may go after an MLB ready bullpen arm or a AAA outfielder to shore up depth.
The Pirates are then scheduled to pick second followed by Orioles, Royals, and Indians rounding out the top five.
Notable players after the jump:
Aneury Rodriguez, RHP (Rays): acquired by the Tampa Bay Rays last spring in a trade from the Rockies for Jason Hammel. Rodriguez seems to be favored among bloggers as the first pick in the draft. He turns 22 next week and has clocked in about 522 innings since he was drafted at the age of 17 in 2005, based on this scouting report from a year ago he is projected to be a middle reliever unless his secondary pitches develop. Rodriguez does have a fastball that sits in the mid-90's and his curveball is average but its his "fringy" changeup that needs more work in order to be successful.
Yohan Pino, RHP (Indians): another pitcher acquired last season from the Twins in the Carl Pavano trade. Pino will be 24 at the start of next season and has flashed excellent control over his minor league career. He has been utilized as both a starter and a reliever and does have command of two types of curves along with two kinds of sliders which he can throw consistently for strikes. Pino's fastball does sit in the low 90's. He did struggle a bit in 2008 due to a foot injury which brought his K/BB rate to a career low of 2.05 but he has rebounded from it and could be a solid backend starter next season. Pino is a classic finesse pitcher that doesn't posses much upside but has shown the ability to adapt and perform in each minor league promotion.
Chad Tracy, C/1B (Rangers): son of Rockies manager Jim Tracy, this percieved future DH did show excellent power in his first full season at AA. Tracy was drafted as a catcher out of Pepperdine in 2006 and will be 25 years old this July. Defensively, he can hold down 1B and LF and has shown qualities to be an excellent team leader and bench presence but, ultimately, it will be his bat and whether or not he can improve his BB% and cut down on his K's (struckout in over 20% of plate appearances a few years ago in A ball) in order to show he is MLB ready.
Chuck Lofgren, LHP (Indians): is that ever-valuable LHP project teams love to salivate over in these drafts. Looking at his peripherals, I'm not a big fan of Lofgren. His promotion to AAA last season was really due to his low BABIP and when the numbers evened out in 98 AAA innings pitched he struggled with his command and his K/9 fell to 5.67. He will be 24 next season and has been groomed as a starter his entire minor league career. I believe if selected (or not selected) Lofgren will be utilized next season as a reliever and his probable role as a lefty-specialist should mask his struggles against RH hitting and hopefully he will salvage a good career out of it.
Jamie Hoffmann, OF (Dodgers): this former junior hockey star out of Minnesota was drafted as an amateur free agent at the age of 19. Hoffmann has the skills to be an excellent fourth outfielder, he is fast enough to steal 15-20 bases along with the range to defensively excell at all three OF spots. He has developed good power and his BB to K rates shows he has a good eye and knows how to get on base. Hoffmann is currently 25 and is good enough to be the Dodgers fourth OF, however, the presence of Juan Pierre has muddied that a bit and will hopefully go to a team that will recognize his qualities.
George Kontos, RHP (Yankees): If he could ever return to his K rate prior to the 51 innings he pitched last season at AAA, Kontos would be a very intruiging pickup. Kontos has always had modest stuff but its his slider that has helped him post his excellent K rates (averages in the upper 8's). I could see Kontos as a valuable set-up in the next few years and his age (25 next season) and skill set (average fastball, excellent slider, average overall command) seems to dictate this.
Tommy Mendoza, RHP (Angels): only 22 at the start of next season, Mendoza isn't quite ready for backend MLB rotation work (his brief 21 excellent innings at AAA were deceiving due to a very low BABIP (.227) and a high strand rate around 85%) but he does have promise due to his age and his ability to keep the ball in the park. Mendoza has fallen among top Angel prospects since he was drafted (Baseball America had him ranked 10th overall in '06) as his inability to overpower hitters has caused his stock to fall a bit.
Kevin Whelan, RHP (Yankees): acquired in the 2007 offseason when the Yankees sent a semi-disgruntled Gary Sheffield to the Tigers as one of the young, raw and prized arms in that deal (Yankee fans will remember Humberto Sanchez was also included in that deal). Whelan has never seemed to get over his command issue despite posting very good K rates. He finally made the jump to AAA last season despite having a BB/9 of 4.61 in 54.2 IP. Whelan may be an intriguing piece but his career has been sporadic and should be considered nothing more than a pure specutalative project (albeit a "project" that could develop into a future closer). He will be 26 at the start of next season.
Jon Link, RHP (White Sox): since his debut in 2006, we have seen steady improvement in his K/9 rate (8.23 in 62.1 (A) IP in '06 to 10.54 in 56.1 (AAA) IP last season), the only thing holding Link back from MLB bullpen duty is his consistently high BB rates. Link's ERA in the minors have been victimized by a high BABIP but his strand rates have also scored high. Link does struggle against RH hitters but his fastball does have some sink to it and his above average slider and progressing changeup should make him a very interesting commodity tomorrow.
Edgar Osuna, LHP (Braves): Osuna has a bit of upside after languishing in the lower levels for no real reason. Drafted out of Mexico as a teenager, Osuna spent two years in Rookie ball in '06 and '07 as a starter and reliever and struck out 84 batters in 74 innings while only walking 12. In 2008 he was promoted to A ball and posted a K/9 of 9.69, BB/9 of 2.23 in 125 IP. Last season he pitched in AA and still showed excellent command (BB/9 2.44) although his K rates have fallen to 5.70. Osuna will only be 21 next season and can still grow into his frame. He is currently listed as 6'2" but only weighs 165 lbs.
Neil Wagner, RHP (Indians): has shown excellent K rates during his minor league career but his command has steadily alluded him (hit his career high with a 4.72 BB/9 last season in 61 IP in AA last season). Wagner's dependency on his fastball (which can touch 98 mph) has limited him as a fringe reliever. He will be 26 next season and if he can develop a reliable secondary pitch he would probably become a bonafide closer.
Will Inman, RHP (Padres): an extreme flyball pitcher that has steadily seen his stock fall since he was ranked as the 91st best prospect overall by Baseball America in 2007. Inman has struggled with each promotion and his straight fastball seems to be overmatched by better hitters. He will be 23 at the start of next season and this starting pitcher does seem destined for a bullpen makeover.
John Raynor, OF (Marlins): a very fast and above average defensive outfielder, however hit bat has hit a wall last season at the age of 25. Raynor, despite his batting averages in A and AA ball a few seasons ago (.333 and .312 in 1060 plate appearances) was benefited by a BABIP in the .400 range. His high number of strikeouts and diminshing BB rate in a full season of AAA in 2009 does point to further troubles down the road. At best, Raynor is a defensive option/pinch runner and could be valuable if added to a team in need of speed off the bench.
Danny Dorn, 1B/LF (Reds): slow footed 25 year old who was nearly derailed by a shoulder injury in college (his health has been clean since then). Dorn has the ability to hit for modest power but his struggles against LH pitching does limit him as a platoon OF option in the pros.