Posted by Thomas Brennan at 12:00 PM
Tom Brennan - AN EARLY LOOK AT METS RULE 5 CHOICES
When I think of Rule 5, first thing that comes to mind is the nuns back at my Catholic Grammar School. They had rules....LOTS of rules. Fail to follow Rule 5 and you got to meet the rules. Whack! Keep your teacher happy! Let's get on to Baseball Rule 5, shall we.
Simply put, guys in the minors for a certain period of time are eligible to be selected by other teams in the Rule 5 draft unless they are placed on the team's 40 man roster prior to the draft. If drafted, the drafting team must keep that player on their roster for the entire year, or return the player and pay for the rental, so teams almost always draft only guys that they consider to have true, immediate major league playing potential. You want more on Rule 5's rules? Google it, my friend.
For 2015, the Mets selected Sean Gilmartin, who performed quite well in 2015.
In 2015 and 2016, the Mets lost Logan Verrett and Matt Bowman to the draft. The homer-prone Verrett was returned to the Mets, where he remained homer-prone. The Mets hoped Bowman’s 7-16 AAA season in 2015 would keep teams from selecting him, but the Cards selected Bowman, who proved to be a solid pen piece for the Cards in 2016. Can't win ‘em all.
Sometimes the roster is in flux as teams go into the draft, so who to not put on the 40 man roster can be challenging. Usually a team like the Mets has about 5 slots on the 40 man roster open to fill with the lads they most want to protect. A few times, the prospects deemed to have the highest ceiling are not added to the 40 man due to lack of readiness as a major leaguer, with the team hoping other teams see it the same way and don't snatch a guy the Mets really want to keep.
Such was the case with Wuilmer Becerra last year, as the Mets correctly gambled that no one would want a guy who had not yet played in High A ball stuck on their major league roster all year.
Which eligible players do I think should be added to the Mets' 40 man roster this year, and which would I not? I think 7 should, but I doubt there will be 7 slots, a dilemma to be sorted out by Sandy's boys. Anyway, read on, Reader.
AMED ROSARIO - you need to protect future major league stars. Protecting this stellar young shortstop is a no-brainer. (But see my comments on Nabil Crismatt below, which also apply to Rosario – in my opinion, he should not be eligible for the Rule 5 draft yet).
PAUL SEWALD - you have to protect a guy who has been an A+ relief pitcher throughout his minor league career, especially when Jeurys Familia may deplete the bullpen ranks if he receives a long suspension. Many other teams would have to be interested in picking Paul.
WUILMER BECERRA - presuming that his shoulder is healed, he needs to be protected. He started out scorching at an above .400 clip early in the season, but his shoulder forced him to DH and then to be shut down mid-season. Healthy, he seems like a sure-FIRE future major leaguer.
TOMAS NIDO - Nido truly blossomed in 2016, winning the Florida State League batting title, an incredible feat for a catcher playing in the Florida summer heat. He also excelled in throwing out forerunners, and showed some power too...you don't expose guys like this to the 40 man draft, unless you're just plain dumb.
PHIL EVANS - no one would have thought he'd have needed to be added to the 40 man roster in 2016 before the 2016 started, but the highly versatile infielder with the solid glove shocked everyone by winning the AA batting title while showing some power too. To me, he is a future Mets reserve IF or trade piece, so he needs to be protected.
KEVIN MCGOWAN - the righty had a stellar year in 2016, going 5-1. 2.35 in 38 relief appearances spread mostly across A and AA, with a cameo in AAA. A strikeout an inning, fine control, mid-90s heat, imposing at 6'6". Future bullpen guy or emergency starter.
ANDREW BARBOSA – A huge 28 year old lefty whose arm issues have limited him to 417 career innings, he could (I believe) opt for free agency, but he is a guy who should definitely interest other clubs. He was 3-0, 1.51, 0.91 WHIP, and a K per inning mostly in AA last year, and his last 2 starts included 15 innings of 1 hit ball, with 3 walks and 16 Ks. I’d keep him, and target him for the Mets’ bullpen in 2017.
GUYS I WOULD LEAVE UNPROTECTED
MARCOS MOLINA – OUCH! Prior to Tommy John Surgery, he was a rising star, just behind the projected ceiling of guys like Steve Matz. Molina was the best pitcher in the entire NY Penn League in 2014. Then, 2015 surgery, and Marcos was not to return in 2016 until the current Arizona Fall League. Through November 7, he was unimpressive, with 12.2 IP, 12 H, 6 W, 6 R, only 5 K. Only a week and a half left in the AFL schedule, so he has limited time to impress other teams enough to think that he can be of at least some use to them in 2017 to be worth drafting him from the Mets. It is unclear what his ceiling will be post-Tommy John. Tough call from where I sit.
MATT OBERSTE – he has been a fine performer in the minors, but as a 1B/DH, has not done anything spectacular. He hit a solid .283 in AA but with only 32 extra base hits in 413 at bats. I do not see teams selecting him, but he has a possible future in the bigs, with apparently a low ceiling, unless he can substantially improve his power numbers in 2016.
OTHER GUYS WHO COULD GET REAL CONSIDERATION:
TRAVIS TAIJERON – fine power, extreme strikeouts, better each year, getting older.
LOGAN TAYLOR – had a strong relief season, but faded a bit towards the end in AA. 99 K’s in 86 IP.
LUIS MATEO – similar to Marcos Molina, Mateo was a rising star until Tommy John came a-visitin’. He had a decent but unspectacular year in relief mostly in AA (4-4, 2.69, 67 IP, 52 K, 1.31 WHIP). I still think he has a major league bullpen career ahead of him.
NABIL CRISMATT – Crismatt seems to have a major league trajectory, career 16-8, 2.56, 222 K, 239 K, just 50 BB. But Nabil has only one game above mid-A ball, so he seems safe from the draft for 2017. I believe he is a perfect example of why one more year should be added to the period before really young international signings get exposed to Rule 5. He was signed at 17, and is still 21 until Christmas, and how many 22 year olds frankly are ready for the bigs? Very few.
OTHERS: LHRP Alberto Baldonado, another international who seems not ready yet and struggled in AA; IF LJ Mazzilli (weak 2016 – who’d want that?); RHSP Ricky Knapp (a fine 13-6, 2.69 in 2016, but only 115 Ks in 164 IP, which is a concern, but he could go; IF Jeff McNeil (his rapid ascent halted by being limited to only 14 plate appearances in 2016 due to injury); Jayce Boyd (potentially a better hitter than Matt Oberste until his bad 2013 injury reduced his future productivity); RHSP Chris Flexen (OK post-TJS season); and, most intriguing of all the “others”, blazing OF Champ Stuart, who is having a fine Arizona Fall League stint, but has a long history of many whiffs, that may preclude him ultimately having a major league Whiff of Success.
That’s it – hope I missed no one. Your thoughts?