by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
A year after we saw a pair of Rule 5 success stories (Odubel Herrera & Delino Deshields Jr.), it’s fair to wonder if there could be similar breakouts comining from this year’s class. There were six hitters selected yesterday, so let’s take a crack at ranking them for their potential impact in 2016:
1) Colin Walsh – 2B – Milwaukee Brewers
Selected from the Oakland A’s
The Brewers have potential holes at 2B (Scooter Gennett) and 3B (the newly acquired Garin Cecchini) so they selected the 26-year old Walsh, a switch hitter who spent the year at Double-A hitting .302 with 13 HR and 17 SB over 619 PA. He did play at Triple-A a bit in ’14 (172 PA) and also showed a tremendous eye at the plate with a 20.0% walk rate in ’15. While the average isn’t going to be quite as good as it was (.390 BABIP), the power could grow to help offset that regression (39 doubles, while also calling a hitter friendly park home).
He showed an ability to handle both right-handed and left-handed pitchers (something Gennett hasn’t done, as a career .124 hitter against LHP):
- LHP – .308/.512/.450
- RHP – .300/.422/.477
Cecchini also doesn’t profile as an outstanding option at third base, after hitting .213 at Triple-A last season and never showing much power. He’s also struggled to make contact in his brief MLB career (35.0% in 40 PA).
It’ll be interesting to see how the team’s offseason plans progress, but consider Walsh one of the better prospects coming out of the Rule 5 draft. He should be given an opportunity to win a starting role, or if nothing else profiles as an ideal super utility player who could generate enough AB to make an impact.
2) Tyler Goeddel – OF – Philadelphia Phillies
Selected from the Tampa Bay Rays
The Phillies have a slew of options in the outfield:
- Odubel Herrera
- Cody Asche
- Peter Bourjos
- Aaron Altherr
In theory the team could shift Herrera back to 2B, though that seems unlikely. A first round pick in 2011, Goeddel spent 2015 at Double-A hitting .279 with 12 HR and 28 SB over 473 AB. He improved his strikeout rate (20.5% in ’14 at High-A, to 18.4% last season) and didn’t benefit from extreme luck (.326 BABIP). While power likely won’t be his game (he added 17 doubles and 10 triples, though at 6’4” there’s the potential for him to still develop), he clearly has speed and at 23-years old has the potential to stick.
You have to wonder how much playing time he’ll get, but the fact is that none of the options they have should be guaranteed playing time. It makes sense to take a look, see if he can continue to develop and potentially make an impact.
3) Jabari Blash – OF – San Diego Padres
Selected from the Seattle Mariners
It was actually the A’s who made this pick, but ultimately traded Blash to San Diego. You can argue that he’s the most intriguing player selected, as the right-handed hitter slugged 32 HR over 406 AB between Double and Triple-A last season. With power at a premium and the Padres needing help in the middle of their lineup, it’ll be interesting to see if he can produce. Of course, there’s a good chance that he struggles to make consistent contact given the strikeout rates he posted last season:
- Double-A – 24.2%
- Triple-A – 27.6%
It could easily rise to 30+% in the Majors and playing in San Diego isn’t going to do him any favors. It’s worth monitoring, given the power, but there’s a good chance he doesn’t stick.
4) Jake Cave – OF – Cincinnati Reds
Selected from the New York Yankees
He reached Triple-A last season, at least for a cup of coffee, but he’s spent significant time at Double-A the past two seasons and has shown signs of developing:
- 2014 (176 AB) – .273, 4 HR, 2 SB
- 2015 (505 AB) – .269, 2 HR, 17 SB
While the power hasn’t come, yet, he has a total of 32 doubles and 10 triples at Double-A and in Cincinnati there could be a bit of growth. He’s going to need it, as he had a 17.4% strikeout rate and needed a .327 BABIP to even post his unimpressive average. According to MLB.com:
“Cave flashes all-around ability and draws praise for his constant hustle. He barrels balls and isn’t fazed by breaking pitches, so he should hit for average, provided he tightens his strike-zone discipline. There’s some question as to whether he can get to average power because most of his pop goes to the gaps, and he homered just nine times in his first 248 pro games.”
The strikeout rate was improved, so that’s a step, the team has a need in LF and also have been rumored to be shopping Jay Bruce, so the opportunity is there. It shouldn’t be considered a given that he grabs hold of it, though, with Adam Duvall potentially being a better gamble.
5) Ji-Man Choi – 1B – Los Angeles Angels
Selected from the Baltimore Orioles
A one-time prospect, Choi has been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons. Prior to 2014 John Sickels of Minor League Ball had this to say about him while grading him as a B- prospect:
“I know he’s not the toolsiest guy in the world but he can simply hit, good combination of power and on-base ability, very low strikeout rate for a guy with those skills. He won’t run track for you but he’s hit at every level when healthy and no red flags stand out sabermetrically. I’ll put a marker down on this one.”
Maybe he’s insurance for Albert Pujols, who is uncertain to be ready for Opening Day? It makes sense, and there is still upside, but when everyone is healthy he should find himself behind Pujols and C.J. Cron for AB at 1B/DH.
6) Joey Rickard – OF – Baltimore Orioles
Selected from the Tampa Bay Rays
He played across three levels in ’15, including Triple-A, hitting .321 with 2 HR and 23 SB over 396 AB. Dan Duquette was quoted by Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun (click here for the article) describing Rickard by saying:
“He has good on-base capabilities, good skills, he’s got good speed,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “He’s an excellent contact hitter, he can steal a base and he’s a good defensive player. He can play center field and left field. … It just looks like he’s learned how to play. He looks like a good solid overall ballplayer. Good discipline of the strike zone and we’re looking forward to taking a look at him in the spring.”
It sounds more like a reserve as opposed to a starter.
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs, Minor League Ball, Baltimore Sun
Make sure to check out all of our Top 10 Prospect Lists: