Philadelphia Phillies 2012: 5 Notable Prospects Not Protected in Rule 5 Draft
The weather in December may be getting colder, but the MLB offseason is heating up by the minute. With baseball Winter Meetings underway and free agent rumors circling every baseball website, the MLB Hot Stove has never been hotter.
Plus, with a star-studded class of Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and the biggest signing so far in Jonathon Papelbon, the potential for big signings this offseason has many excited.
In addition to free agent signings, December also features the Rule 5 Draft in which Triple and Double A players from each organization are available to be traded to a new team. It has been described as rooting through a clearance rack in hopes to find a player who will help your club but knowing that you are not likely to discover an all-star difference maker.
That is not to say you won't get a good player such as Michael Martinez who helped the Phillies in 2011, or rarer yet to find a prospect turned future all-star like Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino or Dan Uggla, all of whom were selected in the draft.
The Rule 5 Draft does have its stipulations however. Not all of the MLB teams have to select a player and the cost is $50,000 to take a player. If the selected player remains active on his big league club for a minimum of 90 days and stays on the 40- man roster for the entire season, the new team can keep him. If not, he has to be offered back to his old team where they have the option to release of keep the player in addition to returning half of the $50,000 that was offered to them.
While any AA or AAA prospect can be taken, each team has the ability to protect a handful of its players by adding them to their 40-man roster.
As of last week the Phillies made their decisions on who to protect. They added RHP Phillipe Aumont, LHP Jacob Diekman, OF Tyson Gilles and C Sebastian Valle. With the 40-man roster filled and prospects like 2B Freddy Galvis, OF Domonic Brown and pitchers JC Ramirez, Justin De Fratus and Joe Savery already on it, here are some notable names the Phillies chose not to protect from the Rule 5 Draft.
OF Jiwan James
Drafted in 2007 by the Phillies, Jiwan James has been considered by many to be progressing along the same track as Domonic Brown. That statement may be devalued a bit because Brown so far has not panned out, but James is still a top prospect that the Phillies hope will develop into a pretty good player.
Seen as a fast but not fully polished player, James still has some things to learn before he will be major league ready. He stole 31 bases in 2011 but was caught 16 times, meaning that he has to develop more discipline when it comes to base running.
Although James has a lot of tools including a great glove in center field that would make him a good major league player, he is far from there. If his progression continues like Brown's did, it will have him on the fast track for the majors whether he is actually ready.
His offensive numbers have been pretty consistent in his three seasons in the minors, including batting .286 in 2011. James also hit 26 doubles and six triples. He is not really a power threat, and he needs to get better at contact and cut down on strikeouts before he should face major league pitching.
James is definitely a good prospect, but the Phillies must have felt safe in not protecting him. The common consensus and perhaps one the Phillies went by was that he is too far off to be selected, as he would just be stashed in another team's minor league system and not worth the $50,000 player cost.
OF Derrick Mitchell
Gradually progressing every season, Derrick Mitchell is the type of prospect that is slowly moving toward being major league ready. In his first season at the AA level, Mitchell hit .265 with 24 doubles, 19 HR and 79 RBI. He also stole 20 bases and hit .291 with runners in scoring position.
The right-handed Mitchell is a player who could be drafted in a Rule Five, which might be surprising as to why therefore the Phillies did not choose to protect him. Mitchell has seen improvements each season, and with a few more seasons under his belt, he could turn out to be a very good major league player.
He has shown that he can transition from Class A to AA ball with no problem. In fact he posted better stats last season in Reading than he did at any other time of his minor league career, which shows that he is gradually improving.
He does have some holes in his games, and at 24, he may not be ready for the majors until late in his career. This could be something that kept the Phillies from protecting him and that may keep other teams from drafting him.
Mitchell may never pan out to be an all-star, but if he is major league ready by say 2014, he could come up as the Phillies fourth outfielder and be ready to take over if Shane Victorino or John Mayberry Jr is traded.
RHP Tyler Cloyd
Tyler Cloyd has been an interesting case in the Phillies minor league system as they just can't seem to find the best place for him. The Phillies made the decision to convert Cloyd, who was initially a starter, to a reliever in the 2010 season, his third with the team.
Cloyd was never a great pitcher, but when making the transition to reliever, he performed even worse and seemed to struggle in the new role. As a result in 2011, the Phillies used Cloyd as both a reliever and starter, and with Clearwater and Reading, he had a breakout season going 9-4 with a 2.77 ERA in 31 games, 22 of which were starts, 17 of them coming in the move to Reading.
At 24 years of age, Cloyd has tremendous upside and potential and if he builds off of his breakout season, he could be major league ready in a few years. With Cloyd spending a good portion of 2011 in Reading as a starter, it seems that this is where the Phillies want to keep him and where they see his best chance of success.
Considered to be a power pitcher, Cloyd impressed with 138 strikeouts and only 22 walks in 146 innings pitched. In the games he started at Reading, he had career bests in almost every category including a SO/BB ratio of 6.60, a SO/9 of 8.4 and a HR/9 of .6 as he only gave up seven total in his 106.2 IP in Reading.
As I said, Cloyd showed last season that he can be a great pitcher and is likely to start 2012 on Reading's staff unless another team drafts him via the Rule Five. The decision of the Phillies not to protect him could mean they don't think he will get drafted or that they are content with their current pitching situation and know that he will be ready soon without an opening on the big league club.
Also, the team might be focusing their attention for the future not on Cloyd but rather on the young and mainly single A pitchers including Adam Morgan, Jesse Biddle and Trevor May, who in 2011 were known as "the baby aces."
RP B.J. Rosenberg
B.J. Rosenberg began his minor league career on an absolute tear as he dominated hitters in the New York-Penn League going 3-1 with 10 saves and an ERA of 1.00. Because of his dominance, he was brought up to Lakewood in 2009 where he saw similar success including 19 saves and a 7-2 pitching record. He was promoted to Reading for a short stint that year and had three saves in 10 games pitched.
Rosenberg, who can command all of his pitches pretty well and can throw them at just about any time, quickly drew interest from the Phillies and in 2010 he got his chance during spring training. With a handful of Phillies relievers on the DL, Rosenberg looked like he might have a chance to make the team. He played in only one game however and in one inning gave up one hit and a strikeout.
Back in Reading in 2010 and 2011, Rosenberg struggled. In 2010 he gave up 14 runs in just 13.2 IP with Reading and in 2011 he had an ERA of 4.28. For a relief pitcher, that isn't horrible but when the Phillies saw the talent coming from Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo in the late innings, Rosenberg seemed to fall out of their plans when in need of a bullpen arm.
Thought by many to pitch on the big league team in 2010, Rosenberg hasn't even made it to the AAA level yet. Couple that with the fact that the Phillies already have a young bullpen and are looking at guys like Phillipe Aumont and Justin De Fratus, the Phillies are probably okay if some other team decides to draft Rosenberg in the Rule Five.
1B Matt Rizzotti
Matt Rizzotti is one of the more interesting prospects the Phillies have especially due to the injury to Ryan Howard. Before the Phillies signed Thome and before Mayberry had his breakout season, Rizzoti was thought to get a spring training invite to try out to be Ryan Howard's temporary replacement while he recovers from his injury.
However, because of Thome and Mayberry, it looks like the Phillies are covered at that position and that Rizzotti will spend 2012 in either AA or AAA where he can continue to develop his skills.
Rizzotti is by no means a five-tool player as he has below average speed, but other than that he is someone who could crack a major league roster as a bench player relatively soon. Rizzotti's first three seasons in the minors were really subpar considering the hitter friendly environment in which he played.
Hitting only slightly above .260, it seemed like Rizzotti would never develop as the Phillies had hoped, but at the really make-or-break age of 24, something clicked and Rizzoti tore up Clearwater and Reading, posting about a .360 average between the two teams. Rizzotti also seemed to find some of the power his 6'5 230 lb frame would suggest, as he hit 17 HR before a short stint in AAA to end the season.
In 2011, Rizzotti had another solid year hitting .295 with 24 HR and 84 RBI. He has gradually progressed and is finally starting to be the prospect the Phillies envisioned him to be. Thought at one point to be the first baseman of the future, Rizzotti is proving he can have value as a major leaguer. Will it be with this team though? Probably not.
The biggest reason it seems why the Phillies did not protect Rizzotti is that he is still in the developmental stage and still needs time. For a 25-year-old prospect his clock to be ready is running out and still needing time means that he may not crack the Phillies roster until 27 or 28 at the soonest.
That is not to say it won't happen as that is exactly John Mayberry's situation, but the Phillies may figure with Mayberry and Howard, they will not need Rizzotti perhaps as quickly as another team may. The other thing about Rizzotti is his strikeout numbers. He needs to work on his contact and work out more walks before he will be ready to be a major leaguer.