The Rule 5 Draft comes up tomorrow and the Blue Jays have a couple of young pitchers that might be selected by other teams.
The most interesting one is Ryan Tepera. Before you say “Ryan Who?”, Tepera has been an organizational pitcher for the past several years who has reached Double-A and split time between the rotation and the bullpen.
I never did get to see Tepera pitch when I was in New Hampshire. He was supposed to pitch on the third day that I was there but was scratched on the day of the game due to an illness. I can’t give you my own scouting report but thankfully, Marc Hulet over at Fangraphs was kind enough to do it for us. Head over there and read up on what he has to say about Tepera and then come on back. I’ll wait.
Ok, now what does this mean for the Blue Jays? Basically, it doesn’t mean much. Tepera’s very good numbers out of the bullpen and stuff that hits 96 (in relief) probably indicates to some teams that he could stick in a major league bullpen but his lack of command at the Double-A level means that he would need to be buried there in order to ride out the year.
Could Tepera be a “come out of nowhere” type of guy to help a major league team? Sure. Is there just as much likelihood that he can’t get it done yet in the big leagues? Absolutely. Tepera is already 26 and he’s certainly more effective against righties than lefties so he could be put into a ROOGY role.* While Hulet has Tepera as his #1 Rule 5 guy, I think it’s less likely that he’s selected.
Another Blue Jays pitcher that Hulet mentions is Tepera’s New Hampshire teammate, Marcus Walden. Walden I did see last year and he comes almost exactly as advertised. He throws in the low-90s with good sink on his fastball and generates a ton of ground balls. He gives up a lot of hits but because they’re mostly singles, the runs don’t get on the board as easily. He doesn’t strike out a lot and really relied on his infielders when he plays. With only one season of Double-A ball under his belt, Walden, 25, probably isn’t very sexy for teams in the Rule 5 Draft but could offer a team a ground-ball specialist coming out of the pen.
Those are the two Blue Jays players that seem most likely to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft and now with Thad Weber‘s contract being sold to NC Dinos in Korea, there is one space remaining on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster that could be used to select someone.
The big question is whether there’s someone the Jays would select. There were a couple of players that I would have considered were it not for the log-jam in the Blue Jays bullpen and the acquisitions of catchers Dioner Navarro and Erik Kratz. Because the Blue Jays have so many bullpen arms hanging around who are out of options (Brett Cecil, Esmil Rogers, Jeremy Jeffress), I don’t think that it’s likely that they’ll pick up another reliever. I might have thought that former Blue Jays farmhand catcher Carlos Perez (traded to Houston to get J.A. Happ) might be of interest but, again, if a Rule 5 guy is a backup catcher, he’s going to have to play a couple of times a week and with both Kratz and Thole battling it out for that position, it’s unlikely that the Blue Jays pick up another catcher who would have to stay on the roster all year.
I’ll show my own personal bias by saying that if it were a smart decision, the Blue Jays should pick up Joel Carreno. The fact that he signed on with the Mets (to a minor league deal) so quickly means that he’s still available. Unfortunately, with all the bullpen arms already, picking up Carreno probably means that they lose one of the out of options guys. This puts the Jays in a scenario where they would be losing a guy they wanted to keep (one of the out-of-options guys) for a guy they already let go for nothing (Carreno) knowing that they would have a hard time finding a place for him in the bullpen. The trade of Brad Lincoln changes nothing in that regard.
It’s impossible to predict the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft and the Jays have been historically much more active in that portion. The Blue Jays have picked up guys like Gabe Jacobo (who reached Double-A New Hampshire last year), Javier Avendano (Class-A Lansing) and Efrain Nieves who also spent most of 2013 in Lansing in previous years.
We’ll see what the 2013 version holds for us!
* While Tepera’s offensive rate stats against (batting average against, OBP against, SLG against) aren’t that much different between lefties and righties, if you look at his BB/K ratios in the splits, there’s a huge difference there. He has a lot more trouble with walks to left-handed batters than right-handed ones.