The Rule 5 draft comes at the tail end of the winter meetings and is scheduled for December 11. This draft, which allows major league teams to pick off the unprotected players on other teams (players that aren’t on the 40-man roster) provided they stay on the 25-man roster all season (there are other considerations too), has a couple of names who might be a good fit for the Blue Jays’ bullpen, provided they’re still available when the Blue Jays select.
I highly recommend that you go to this article on MLB.com by Jonathan Mayo to get a good grounding in the Rule 5 draft if you haven’t already. There are a couple of interesting players who might be available to help the Blue Jays in 2015, provided that they are available when the Blue Jays select. Currently, the Blue Jays are slated to pick 17th but because five teams ahead of the Blue Jays have full 40-man rosters (right now), if the draft was held today, the Jays would actually get the 12th pick.
Delino DeShields, Jr., a former first-round pick of the Houston Astros, has been left off their 40-man roster and he could certainly be an option to fill the club’s needs at second base. DeShields’ stock has fallen considerably after a fairly tough season in Double-A Corpus Christi last year. Converted from his original position of second base to center field, DeShields’ future is probably in the outfield unless he can improve from his 24 errors as a second baseman in 2013 in High-A Lancaster. DeShields offers other things including excellent speed (54 stolen bases, 14 caught stealing in 2014) and a little bit of pop (11 HRs last season) and some solid patience at the plate (a 12.0% wakl rate in 2014). On the downside, there’s a fairly high strikeout rate (22.1% in 2014) and a low average despite a normal BABIP and very good speed. Kiley McDaniel wrote that “he has no feel to hit and seems disinterested defensively.” So those aren’t exactly good things to hear.
One player that I think would be a much better fit for the Blue Jays is Braves’ pitching prospect, 25-year-old Cody Martin. The righty was a college player drafted in the seventh round in 2011 by the Braves and has spent parts of two seasons as a starter in Triple-A, with a lot of success. The scouting reports I’ve read suggest that he has a below average fastball with some movement (topping out at 90 mph or so) but uses pinpoint control and changes speeds to get hitters out. Despite the lack of “stuff,” Martin has had a healthy strikeout rate above 21% in Triple-A which suggests that he knows how to pitch. My guess is that his velocity would play up a bit if he were to come out of the bullpen. To further bolster his “cred,” Marc Hulet of Fangraphs was among a number of prospect writers who expected Martin to make his big league debut in 2014.
Mayo also names Marlins’ lefty Jarlin Garcia who, at 22 in 2015 and without having pitched above A-ball, would not be much of a fit for the Jays, seeing as they’re probably not going to give up a 25-man roster spot to a guy with only a year of full-season ball under his belt.
Obviously, my thought would be for the Jays to take a chance on Martin if he’s available when the Jays select around 12th in the Rule 5 draft. With over 200 innings of Triple-A experience already, Martin could definitely be given a chance to be a Chad Jenkins type of reliever in 2015 (particularly without an overpowering fastball) and the worst-case scenario is that the Jays lose a little bit of money in the transaction and return him to the Braves if they decide that he can’t help the team. Otherwise, he’d be an inexpensive way to add a bullpen arm and some starting depth in one fell swoop.
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