2018 Rule 5 Preview Part 5: Relief Pitching Doug Gray November 13, 2017 10 Comments The final part of the 2018 Rule 5 Previews that revolve around who the Cincinnati Reds could protect is here. You can see each part of the series below: The list of eligible players (this list has been updated due to free agency) The Infielders The Outfielders The Starting Pitchers Teams can be all over the place when it comes to selecting pitchers. Left handed pitchers, particularly relievers, are always at a premium. They are easy to “hide” in the bullpen, but used as a LOOGY, they can still be useful. Relievers in general can be grabbed and hidden, or brought along slowly. Proven upper minor league guys who don’t have stuff are often overlooked. But, teams are willing to take risks on big time arms that seem far away. It’s always interesting to see which kinds of pitchers are taken – sometimes it’s starters who don’t seem to have great stuff, but get pushed to the bullpen and everything plays up. Let’s take a look at which relief pitchers from the above linked list that I believe could be selected. There are four guys who seem like they could have a chance of being taken. Jose Adames Why he would be selected: Coming off of Tommy John surgery, Jose Adames missed the entire 2017 season. But he showed up for Instructional League and was bringing the heat. The right hander was sitting in the 97-99 MPH range and showing a good breaking ball. Why he would go unpicked: Well, he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. Then there is the fact that he hasn’t had much success beyond Low-A. Brennan Bernardino Why he would be selected: He’s a left handed reliever, which is always in demand. He’s had success in the Arizona Fall League, allowing just one earned run in 8.0 innings. The lefty also showed off a high spin-rate curveball that would rate among the best rates in the Majors. Why he would go unpicked: Despite being a lefty, he really hasn’t had tons of success against lefties. In 2017 lefties hit .340/.448/.404 against him in Double-A. Small sample size of just 58 plate appearances, but like-handed hitters crushed him. Lefties also hit him better than righties in 2016, too. Jake Ehret Why he would be selected: He’s shown fairly well in the Arizona Fall League this year. The righty has allowed two earned in 9.1 innings with 13 strikeouts. He’s been sitting 93-95 and touched 97 with Scottsdale over the last month. Why he would go unpicked: He really struggled during the regular season in 2017. He had a 7.62 ERA between Daytona and Pensacola with 30 walks and 31 strikeouts. In Double-A over the last two seasons he’s really struggled to throw strikes. Zack Weiss Why he would be selected: It was after the 2015 season that he was considered the top relief prospect in the organization. He entered spring training in 2016 with the thought that he could make the team, but then injury struck. He would miss the next 15 months. When he returned on the final day of May he joined Daytona before finding his way to Pensacola. He performed well, posting a 2.63 ERA in 41.0 innings with 13 walks and 56 strikeouts. While his fastball velocity didn’t quite reach it’s peak per-injury, his 4-pitch mix was there. Why he would go unpicked: Weiss will be 26-years-old next year. He’s coming off of an injury, though it wasn’t Tommy John or shoulder surgery – and his fastball didn’t quite return to where it was. A team would have to buy into that he’ll find that extra tick or two that he showed pre-injury. Who to protect from this group As things sit on the 40-man roster today, the Cincinnati Reds have seven open spots to add players if they so choose. If you’ve followed along with this series you’ll recall that I would have added Alex Blandino, Jesus Reyes, Jose Lopez, Jose Siri and Shed Long to this point. Among this group I would protect just one: Zack Weiss. He’s had plenty of Double-A success, both in 2015 and in 2017. There’s some upside there, though you are hoping that the more he throws that he’ll regain that extra tick of velocity that he had in 2015. Jose Adames is a real wild card here. Stuff wise, he fits the profile of a guy that teams are willing to take a chance on. With that said, I’d be willing to risk that a team wouldn’t hide him all year because of his past problems above Low-A ball. The struggles of Jake Ehret in the regular season in 2017 don’t get outweighed by success in 9.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League. While Brennan Bernardino fits the “always need more lefty relievers” need on the surface, his struggles against left handers kind of erases that. I’d risk the chance that he’d go unpicked. 10 Responses The Duke November 13, 2017 That sounds right. I wouldn’t be shocked if Weiss made the bullpen out of spring training, but I could see them wanting him to get a taste of AAA before being called up. A last test of sorts. Michael B. Green November 13, 2017 I mostly agree with the suggested list of players to add to the 40MR. However, you may only see one of Reyes or Weiss protected. My choice is Weiss. Blandino, Siri, Long and Lopez are all easy calls in my opinion. The bigger question is who will we take? Doug Gray November 13, 2017 I’ll be sure to write about possible guys to look at once teams finalize their 40-man rosters. Arnold Ziffle November 13, 2017 As you say, you can’t do much until 40-man rosters set next Monday. But the Reds could pick another player this year. If the Reds don’t re-sign Cozart, it wouldn’t be hard to keep a SS or even a LH pitcher on the Reds 25-man roster all year. The Yankees have an interesting SS. I don’t think he gets protected and placed on their 40-man. They have a serious 40-man roster crunch coming up. Thairo Estrada. I even like the name, Thairo. Check him out. https://www.fangraphs.com/community/thairo-estrada-a-yankees-prospect-you-may-not-have-heard-of/ Doug Gray November 13, 2017 There’s zero chance the Reds don’t add someone else to backup at shortstop, or start at shortstop, if Cozart isn’t coming back. Arnold Ziffle November 13, 2017 The above referenced article was written in June before the Yankees traded SS Jorge Mateo to Oakland in the Sonny Grey deal. Estrada played some SS after that trade. Not a bad season at AA. He’ll be 22 in February. A backup SS/2B for one season and then take over SS spot in 2019, if not sooner. http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=sa739620&position=2B Big Dave November 14, 2017 When are forty man rosters finalized and when is the Rule V Draft? Doug Gray November 14, 2017 Rule 5 (not V) is the last day of the winter meetings, which, this year, is December 14th. 9am. 40-man finalization is November 20th. Steve November 13, 2017 I totally agree with your choices Doug. By adding Lopez, Reyes, Weiss, Blandino, Long and Siri, it takes the 40 man to 39 with a spot open for possibly a rule 5 pick or non roster player. Roster tweaks will occur if Cozart is resigned, injuries happen or trades. Eventually, at some point during the year a spot has to open for Senzel. With the anticipated roster at 39 to this point, who do you see as the first few players removed from the roster if necessary? That’s assuming everyone is healthy. Matthew O'Neal November 13, 2017 I would put Adleman as my 40th may on the roster. Followed by Aquino IF he struggles again early and Siri shows well in Daytona early. Otherwise Adleman is my only clear cut rough keeper.