Most of the time, Rule 5 draft picks make little to no impact on a major league roster, much less a fantasy team. Clubs usually just try to hide them on their roster for a year so they can officially be their property, at which point they’ll then be shipped back to the minors for seasoning. And those are instances where the player actually makes the 25-man roster, which is far from a given.
This year’s crop of Rule 5 picks, like groups most years, doesn’t appear to be particularly exciting. But, we at Rotoworld like to cover all our bases, so let’s take a look at who was selected and see what their chances are of sticking on the roster and possibly contributing.
1. Astros- RHP Rhiner Cruz (former team- Mets)
The Mets always loved Cruz’s arm strength, but they got tired of waiting for it to translate into results, which is why they left him unprotected for the Rule 5 draft. Cruz can approach triple-digits on the radar gun but has always had command and control issues, as evidenced by his career 5.5 BB/9 rate in the minors. He’s landed in a good spot, though, as the Astros can afford to keep any Rule 5 pick on the roster if they think he has long-term potential. Cruz could turn into a setup man or possibly even closer if he can clean up and repeat his mechanics.
2. Twins- RHP Terry Doyle (former team- White Sox)
The Twins plunked this right-hander from their division rival, and as a control artist with consistent minor league results, he fit the bill that Minnesota usually looks for. A former 37th-round pick, Doyle has posted a 2.94 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 381/97 K/BB ratio over 422 2/3 innings in his minor league career and held a 3.07 ERA and 1.13 WHIP between Double- and Triple-A in 2011. It’s doubtful that the Twins will give him a real chance to start, but he could easily capture a spot in the bullpen as a long man.
3. Mariners- LHP Lucas Luetge (former team- Brewers)
Like Doyle, Luetge is a strike-thrower without a plus pitch, but, unlike Doyle, he throws left-handed and is a reliever. The southpaw posted a nice 3.13 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 69/23 K/BB ratio over 69 innings at Double-A Huntsville this past season, and despite a slow climb up the organizational ladder, he’s produced pretty consistently. He did hold left-handed batters to a .175 average in 2011, so perhaps he can carve out a role as a LOOGY.
4. Orioles- 3B/OF Ryan Flaherty (former team- Cubs)
A former sandwich round pick, Flaherty has always hit pretty well in the minors, sporting a .278/.346/.462 career batting line while slugging at least .470 in three of four seasons. But, he’s not much of an athlete and has yet to find a defensive home, having played second base, shortstop, third base and both outfield corners. He has good makeup, though, and with a solid, left-handed bat, he probably has a decent shot to stick as a member of the Orioles’ bench.
5. Yankees (purchased from Royals)- LHP Cesar Cabral (former team- Red Sox)
A native of the Dominican Republic, Cabral has often struggled with consistency in the minors, but he was pretty steady throughout 2011, winding up with a 2.95 ERA while striking out 70 over 55 innings between High- and Double-A. He doesn’t have tremendous stuff but can touch 93 MPH with his fastball and usually does a pretty good job against left-handed batters. Because he was also selected in last year’s Rule 5 draft, he can become a free agent if he fails to stick this time around.
6. Cubs- RHP Lendy Castillo (former team- Phillies)
A former shortstop, Castillo is probably the most unpolished of this year’s Rule 5 selections, but he also might have the most upside. The 22-year-old has only been pitching for two years and has yet to progress past A-ball, but his results have been impressive to this point, as he boasts a 2.43 ERA and 1.15 WHIP while striking out a batter per inning over 111 frames. Castillo sits in the mid-90s and can touch the upper-90s, and while he also has a potentially good curveball, it lacks consistency. The Cubs will probably find out pretty quickly whether he has a real shot to stick on the roster or not, but if he does, there’s some back-end of the bullpen potential here.
8. Pirates- SS Gustavo Nunez (former team- Tigers)
The Tigers had been quite high on Nunez just a couple years ago, as he’s always been a slick fielder and was starting to show potential with the bat. But, he’s really struggled to adjust to pitching as he moved up the ladder and the Tigers gave up on him. The 23-year-old will have some value for his defensive ability, though, and can play multiple positions and also runs very well. He has a shot to crack the Pirates’ roster as a utilityman.
21. Braves- LHP Robert Fish (former team- Angels)
The Angels were long intrigued by Fish’s arm, as he can bring mid-90s heat with his fastball. But, up until this past season, he really struggled to get anyone out with consistency. The 2011 campaign was promising for him, though, as he posted a 3.26 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 41/18 K/BB ratio over 30 1/3 innings at Double-A Arkansas. He actually did much better against right-handed batters as far as giving up hits is concerned, but his K/BB rate was much better against those that stood in from the left side of the plate. Like Cabral, Fish is also a second-time Rule 5 selection, so he can become a free agent if he fails to make the Braves’ 25-man roster.
22. Cardinals- OF Erik Komatsu (former team- Nationals)
Komatsu was sent from the Brewers to the Nationals at the trade deadline in the Jerry Hairston deal, but the Nats chose to leave him exposed for the Rule 5 draft and the Cardinals scooped him up. The former eighth-round pick’s best attribute is probably his selectivity at the plate, as he sports a career .389 on-base percentage and has struck out just seven more times than he’s walked. But, Komatsu has also batted .302 in his minor league career, can play all three outfield positions and can also run a bit. There isn’t much upside here, but he definitely has a shot to hang around as an extra outfielder.
23. Astros (acquired from Red Sox)- INF Marwin Gonzalez (former team- Cubs)
Gonzalez potentially offers the Astros some positional versatility, as he’s played six positions during his minor league career, catcher and right field yet to be scratched off his list. The 22-year-old finally started to hit a little bit this past season, batting .288/.343/.400 with four homers and 39 RBI over 465 plate appearances between Double- and Triple-A. He’ll never have chance to start, not even on the Astros, but there’s utility player potential here.
25. Diamondbacks- RHP Brett Lorin (former team- Pirates)
Lorin is a big man at 6-foot-7 and nearly 250 pounds, but he doesn’t have the repertoire that you would think a guy of his size would possess. Since his fastball rarely rises above 90 MPH, the 24-year-old relies on command and control, and he has plenty of that, as evidenced by his career BB/9 rate of 2.4. Lorin also has some deception in his delivery and a workable slider and changeup, which helped him to post a 2.84 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 99/19 K/BB ratio over 117 1/3 innings at High-A in 2011. As a guy without great stuff who will turn 25 before the season starts and hasn’t advanced past A-ball, he might be facing long odds to make the team.
29. Yankees- RHP Brad Meyers (former team- Nationals)
Meyers has been injury-prone throughout his minor league career, but thankfully none of the issues have resulted in any major elbow or shoulder surgeries. When he’s been healthy, he’s consistently gotten results, having posting a 2.86 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 378/105 K/BB ratio across 453 frames. A former fifth-round pick, Meyers gets guy more on pitchability than stuff, as his fastball often sits in the high 80s. He’ll have to make the Yankees’ roster as a reliever, though, and it’s possible his stuff could play up out of the bullpen.