Rule 5 Draft Preview: The Pitchers Doug Gray December 11, 2017 12 Comments The Rule 5 Draft will take place on Thursday morning at 9am. The Cincinnati Reds will have the 5th pick in the draft if they choose to participate. They currently have a 40-man roster with two roster spots open. That means it’s possible that they could make two selections like they did two seasons ago. Neither player selected stuck to the roster that season. Last year they selected two players as well, though one was immediately traded to San Diego. They kept Stuart Turner all season. Today we are going to look at the pitchers that could be available. We will look at infielders and outfielders the next two days. Pitchers are generally the easiest players to select for teams. They can usually be hidden in the bullpen, used in long relief, and generally stick more often than position players. The Cincinnati Reds certainly could use some pitching. They probably aren’t looking to add a starting pitcher from the Rule 5 draft, though. They seem to have plenty of options there, but they could grab someone who is currently a starter and use them in the bullpen. That guy could also provide depth at starter down the road if needed. Baseball America has a good list that is a nice starting point. The top guy on the Baseball America list is right hander Burch Smith. The Rays pitcher missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons after having Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2017 and showed big stuff, but also showed some rust. The bullpen would be a good destination to put him and just let the stuff play. Of course, he may not be there for the taking for the Reds, either. The third player on their list is Cale Coshow from the Yankees. He is an incredibly intriguing guy. He’s got two above-average offerings to work with in his fastball and slider. He has started in the past, and found success in the role. However, in the upper minor leagues he’s mostly been used as a reliever. Between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017 he posted a 3.75 ERA in 60.0 innings with 24 walks (4 intentional) and 76 strikeouts. A solid walk rate and two above-average pitches could play in the bullpen, especially if you can pick and choose his spots earlier in the season. The most intriguing arm in the entire Rule 5 draft to me, though, might be a guy who won’t pitch in the first half of 2018. Nick Burdi underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2017.The former Louisville Cardinal would have probably reached the Major Leagues with the Twins in 2017 had he not been injured. The 24-year-old spent the first six weeks of the season destroying the Southern League. In 17.0 innings he held Double-A opponents to just nine hits and posted a 0.53 ERA with four walks (1 intentional) and struck out 20 batters. His fastball works in the mid-to-upper 90’s when he is healthy and he’s touched triple digits. Another Yankees prospect that is rather interesting is Raynel Espinal. He missed the 2015 season, though I can’t track down why. The now 26-year-old right hander doesn’t have much experience in the upper minor leagues. He’s only thrown 19.2 innings above A-ball, all coming in 2017 for Trenton. He’s coming off an absolutely dominant season between three levels. The right hander posted a 1.09 ERA between Low-A, Advanced-A and Double-A with 15 walks and 93 strikeouts in 74.1 innings. Aside from his age and lack of experience in the upper minors, he’s got one bit thing working against him: He’s been a big time fly ball pitcher in his career. There’s some stuff there, and he’s got arm strength. The Yankees are loaded. Right hander Anyelo Gomez is another New York prospect that went unprotected. He saw action at four different levels in 2017. Gomez started in Low-A at age 24, but quickly moved up to Advanced-A and then to Double-A where he saw the most action. He even made one appearance in Triple-A. Between all of his stops he posted a 1.92 ERA in 70.1 innings with 21 walks and 87 strikeouts. He’s reached 100 MPH with his fastball and shows off a good change up. If you are going to target a true reliever, this seems like the kind of guy that would be at the top of your list. There are some other names out there, but these are the guys that stood out to me the most. You can check out the Baseball America list and if you have a subscription there, you’ll get a whole lot of names. MLB Pipeline also has a much smaller list to check out. We’ll look at more guys tomorrow as potential options for the Reds. 12 Responses Piggly Wiggly December 11, 2017 All of those you list are certainly interesting targets. I really like Burch Smith and hope he is there at 5. Cosmos is another that is ML ready, and intriguing as you say. Birdie may be the one if he is there at 5. The good thing about him is he comes with a built in hiding spot on the DL. He can be kept on the 60 day DL until mid August. Piggly Wiggly December 11, 2017 Cosmos? Kramer from Seinfeld maybe. Stupid auto correct. Should read Coshow. The Duke December 11, 2017 I really like the idea of Burdi, especially if they expect him back mid 2018 so we can he can get enough service days to not carry over rule 5 implications into 2019. He has closer stuff when healthy. If we do take a pitcher, I’d have to imagine it’s a power arm for the bullpen. Colorado Red December 11, 2017 I like him or Gomez. Could be a replacement for Iggy, if we trade him. Datdudejs December 11, 2017 I would take any of them. And maybe even trade for another pick in the top 5 if you can for money Wes December 11, 2017 I doubt Burdi will be there. His upside and fact you can stash on IR and rehab most of season makes him most valuable imo. Stock December 11, 2017 I like Burch Smith, Burdi, John Norwood (OF) and catchers Max Pentecost (I know he has a bum shoulder but if he can get behind the plate again the bat plays extremely well) and Nick Cuiffo. Montana DuRapau (RP), Gomez and Espinal would be my options in round 2 if any were still on the board. Good chance both Burdi and Pentecost could hit the 60 day DL. DuRapau had 12.42 K/9 IP in AAA last year so he appears major league. He changed things up in 2016 and the immediate results weren’t great but not bad either. Improved in 2017 my guess as he refines his tools. More refinement could mean he would be a great find in the Rule 5 draft. Norwood is intriguing. He is fast and has played some CF but they say he is better fit for a corner outfielder. My guess is he is better than Choo. Stock December 11, 2017 Better than Choo defensively I should say MK December 11, 2017 I think Espinal was taken in the Minor League Phase last year by the Rays, but don’t know how he got back to Yankees. If taking a Yankee I would think long and hard about Anyelo Gomez. Clammy December 11, 2017 I would like them to take a stab at Burdi if available for the reasons stated above. If Pentecost is still there at 5 perhaps we can find a AL team as a trading partner. Pat December 11, 2017 Pitching, pitching, pitching…worth the risk. Why? The Reds were in the 5th to 6th spots in many offensive categories. Pitching was last and historically bad. Imagine that output with even mid-pack pitching! With a good closer (a bright spot to a woeful pitching staff) just think of what their record would’ve been. Not asking for lights out pitching – only solid stuff. If Burdi, Smith or Coshow are there why the heck not? Maybe one and a slot for a trade pickup? CP December 12, 2017 I like the idea of the Reds taking a stab at one of these power arms too. Just adds to the competition for the bullpen. There may not be a ton of experience in the Reds bullpen next year (unless they make a signing or two), but there should be a good amount of arm talent to pick from. Iglesias Peralta Lorenzen Hernandez Weiss Shackleford Brice Plus the possible SP’s transitioning to bullpen: Garrett Reed Stephens Mella Davis Also the minor league signings a some: Kyle Crockett More to come I’m sure…. Add all these together with a late signing of someone looking to regain their value, and hopefully the bullpen could be a strength going into next year….