Friday, November 18, 2016

Five Guys to Watch For The Rule 5 Draft

With 40-man rosters being set today, any player Rule 5 eligible can be drafted away from their original teams for a minuscule fee on December 8 during the annual Rule 5 Draft, provided that they stay on their new teams 25-man roster the entire year. If not, they will be returned to their original teams. This does not get much attention from those outside from the most diehard fans, as most eligible players are organizational fillers who will never play a major role in the big leagues. However, there are some success as well, including Dan Uggla, Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana, and in more recent years, Odubel Herrera and Marwin Gonzalez. In this article, we will list the 5 players with performances or tools that will be very enticing for other clubs to take a chance on.

Last year's draft recap and scouting reports can be found here.

OF Barrett Barnes, Pittsburgh Pirates
The 25-year-old Barnes may have the best combination of tools, stats, and pedigree out of anybody eligible this year. The former supplemental first round pick has both speed and power, as well as raw athleticism uncommon for a college draftee like him. Since being drafted in 2012, he has put up a career slash line in the minors of .279/.367/.436, good for an .803 OPS while showing off his tools and even some plate discipline. His only fault? He consistently gets injured. So far in his professional career, he has never had a fully healthy season until 2016, when he produced a solid .306/.377/477 line in Double-A. A team looking for an outfielder for the short side of a platoon with some future potential should look to take a flier on Barnes's athleticism and bet on him staying healthy.

3B Nicky Delmonico, Chicago White Sox
Delmonico has had a long ride, to say the least. A former high-upside prospect in the Orioles system, the offensive-minded third baseman broke out in 2013 with a .243/.350/.469 slash line in A-ball before being dealt to Milwaukee for Francisco Rodriguez. There he scuffled for 1 and half seasons, on top of a PED suspension in 2014 and being released by the Brewers after that year. Last year, however, he signed on with the White Sox system and after struggling in 2015, promptly started raking again in 2016, hitting .279/.347/.490 in AA and AAA combined. He is still just 24 years old, and has a clean swing with above average pop. Look for a team who needs a platoon infielder/bench bat to take a shot on Delmonico during the Rule 5 Draft.

LHP Wei-Chung Wang, Milawukee Brewers
Wang is a veteran of the Rule 5 process, having been taken by the Brewers before the 2014 season. The lefty was still making the jump from Rookie ball at the time, and understandably struggled in his brief time in the bigs. After being outrighted off the 40-man roster, Wang has put up a solid season in 2016, with a 3.78 ERA, 7.7 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9 between AA and AAA combined. He clearly has talent, which the Brewers were willing to take a flier on, with a fastball that touches 96 and above average curve and change. Teams in need of a LOOGY or a bottom-of-the-rotation innings eater could look to stash Wang this coming season.

OF Jon Kemmer, Houston Astros
Coming off the heels of a breakout 2015 that saw him hit .327/.414/.574 with 18 home runs in AA, Kemmer initially struggled in his first exposure in AAA, batting just .258 with 5 homers in the first half. However, as he started to adjust to the pitching, he returned to his old mashing ways, hitting .274 with 13 home runs in the second half of the season. He is not just an offensive threat either; he can play both corner outfield spots proficiently as well as center field in a pinch, with a strong arm to boot. Any team looking for a lefty swinging outfielder as a platoon bat should see Kemmer as a cheap and possibly productive solution.

LHP Jordan Guerrero, Chicago White Sox
Unlike the other players on this list Guerrero did not put up great numbers in 2016, scuffling to a 4.83 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in AA ball. However, he is a lefty with plus arm speed and a 90-94 mph fastball that could play up in a relief role in the majors. His changeup is a plus offering, and a shift to the bullpen could allow him to lessen the usage of his fringy curveball. He has put up much better numbers at lower levels, such as in a breakout 2015 that saw him throw 149 innings with a 8.9 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. Despite middling command of his pitches and an elevated walk rate this season, the fastball/changeup combo should make him a serviceable LOOGY in a big league pen.

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