1B Jesus Aguilar (Cleveland Indians)
In addition to negotiating potential trades like it’s going out of style at the GM meetings in Nashville, Tenn., every organization is also busily preparing for Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 draft on Wednesday.
For those who have followed the event over the years, then you already know that it’s not what it used to be and rarely yields impact talent at the major league level. Last year the draft was highlighted by RHP Rhiner Cruz (Astros) and LHP Lucas Luetge (Mariners), both of who reached the major leagues last season with their respective team.
This year’s crop of Rule 5-eligible prospects is headlined by a few power bats and numerous intriguing left-handed pitchers. Be sure to check back in the coming days for more analysis and predictions for Wednesday’s event.
2012 Stats: .245/.301/.344, 26 XBH (20 2B), 6 SB, 89/24 K/BB (94 G, Double-A Harrisburg)
If we’re talking high-upside, then Destin Hood deserves a spot on this list. Drafted in 2008, the 22-year-old outfielder has been moved along slowly due to the overwhelming gap between his top-notch athleticism and developing baseball skills. His best tools, raw power and speed, showed signs of coming around in 2011.
Hood received a promotion to Double-A to open the 2012 season, but he was limited to only 94 games at the level due to wrist and groin injuries. He still has the upside of a solid-average corner outfielder, at best, though it’s his athleticism that makes him an intriguing Rule 5 selection.
2012 Stats: 19 IP, 12.79 ERA, 2.74 WHIP, 5.68 K/9, 9.00 BB/9 (7 G; 4 GS Low-A Rome); 30.2 IP, 2.05 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 14/67 K/9, 4.40 BB/9, .182 BAA (16 G, Rookie Danville)
Regarded as one of the Braves’ top pitching prospects since his professional debut in 2009, Carlos Perez, a left-hander, endured a quick fall from the ranks with an ugly 2011 season for Low-A Rome, and things only improved in 2012 following a demotion to rookie-level Danville and a move to the bullpen.
The new role did allow him to regain the aggressiveness that made him successful in previous seasons, as reflected by his improved strikeout and walk rates. Perez still lives by his low-90s fastball, as his curveball and changeup are inconsistent pitches. However, both offerings seem to play up as a reliever.
2012 Stats: 2-1, 22.1 IP, 1.61 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 4.8 BB/9, .197 BAA, 2.29 GO/AO; 2-2, 42.1 IP, 4.04 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 5.7 BB/9, 1.96 GO/AO (28 G, Double-A Northwest Arkansas)
At 6’6”, John Keck is an imposing presence on the mound. He’s also incredibly difficult to barrel, as he throws a heavy fastball on a steep downward plane.
He doesn’t generate as many whiffs as one would expect, even with a plus slider, so he doesn’t have the upside of a closer or even full-time setup man. However, he could be a force in situational matchups out of a big league bullpen this season and is only starting to truly put things together.
2012 Stats: 2-0, 7 SV, 22.2 IP, 2.38 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 6.8 H/9, 11.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 (18 G, High-A Inland Empire); 5-1, 43 IP, 2.72 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 5.0 H/9, 11.7 K/9, 5.7 BB/9 (37 G, Double-A Arkansas)
A third-round draft pick out of Chipola College (Fla.) in 2008, Ryan Chaffee was originally developed as a starting pitcher with minimal success. However, the 24-year-old right-hander showed well in his first full season out of the bullpen in 2012, though his command still leaves something to be desired.
With a mid-90s fastball and an above-average slider, Chaffee could be selected if a team believes he can quickly refine his arsenal over the course of the 2013 season, which considering the strides he made in 2012, is possible.
2012 Stats: .277/.365/.454, 39 XBH (12 HR), 91/45 K/BB (107 G, High-A Carolina); .292/.402/.500, 9 XBH, 24/13 K/BB (20 G, Double-A Arkansas)
Jesus Aguilar is certainly the most notable name on this list of Rule 5-eligible prospects, and also the most likely to reach the major leagues among all the position players.
In fact, I’m not exactly sure why the Indians didn’t protect him given their lack of pop at the major league level. I'm guessing they're confident that he won't be selected, but we'll see.
A participant in the XM Future’s Game this past July, the 6’3”, 257-pound, first-base-only prospect reached Double-A for the first time this season and put up a .902 OPS with 24/13 K/BB, even if it was only 20 games.
The right-handed hitter’s loudest tool is definitely his bat, as he has plus raw power to all fields but lacks the frequency that one naturally associates with his strength. Aguilar always had swing-and-miss to his game, though he did improve his strikeout-to-walk ratio last season.