The 2011 version of baseball’s Rule Five Draft has quietly come and gone sneaking around the shadows of the Angels’ $325+ spending spree Thursday morning on Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. The Mets did not add a player in the MLB phase or either of the two minor league phases of the draft. Instead, they lost two hard-throwing relievers with control problems and an organizational depth type for catcher.
The Mets did not have space to add a player to the MLB 40-man roster. Once they add Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, they’ll be up to 41 players, so they’ll need to trade or designate someone to free up a spot already. Thus, any player they would have added would have had to have been clearly better than someone on the 25-man roster.
With the first pick in the MLB phase of the draft, the Astros scooped up Mets hard-throwing reliever Rhiner Cruz. In 36 appearances out of the double-A Binghamton bullpen in 2011, Cruz owned a 4.14 ERA in 58.2 innings. His biggest problem: walks, 39 of ‘em for a 6.0 BB/9. He was tough to hit (just 43 hits or 6.6 H/9) and missed bats (51 or 7.8 K/9). Cruz was sitting 94-96 mph with his fastball and touching 97 this summer according to Mike Diaz.
With the Gigantes del Cibao in the DWL this year, Cruz has shown all of the same features: few hits, lots of walks and some strikeouts. He’s put up a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings with five hits, two runs, NINE walks and 14 strikeouts. If you’re playing along at home, that’s a 5.8 BB/9, for a league that plays at a level somewhere in the range of double-A this time of year. Cruz has been working with an Astros minor league coach, Rick Aponte in the DWL. Astros interim GM Dave Gottfried told Baseball America that Cruz has “a very good arm, an above-average arm, and the breaking ball has improved this winter with Rick working with him.”
Also, he doesn’t throw strikes.
In the triple-A Phase, the San Francisco Giants added Cruz Jr.: hard-throwing RHP Luis Rojas. Like Cruz, he throws hard, sitting in the 94-95 range regularly. Like Cruz, he has little idea where it’s going. Unlike Cruz, he will not be subject to any roster restrictions so the Giants can do whatever they’d like with him when it comes to assigning him to a team. The 22-year old Rojas ran a 4.87 ERA in 44.1 innings out of the Savannah bullpen in 2011 with 45 hits, 32 walks against 26 strikeouts. That’s 9.1 H/9, 6.5 BB/9 and just 5.3 K/9. He’s listed at 5’10″ and sports a nice looking boiler for a guy his age.
There were nights when Savannah Pitching Coach Glenn Abbott told me that Rojas looked so good he thought he could get out big league hitters with his stuff. However, those nights were too infrequent. More regularly, he struggled to locate his fastball. Some outings he wouldn’t throw his breaking ball at all, while other times, he’d throw it, but just miss with it.
Also in the triple-A phase, Toronto grabbed C Hector Alvarez from the Mets. Who? You might ask. Alvarez is a 20-year C who hit .229/.326/.289 in 27 games in the GCL in 2011.
I’m not sure why Alvarez was Rule 5 eligible. His statistical record picks up in 2008, but perhaps he signed a 2007 contract.