Time and time again it seems to be true that the best place to stash a Rule 5 pick is the bullpen. The Phillies have been looking for pitching everywhere this offseason so it makes sense that this is a place they could look to in the Rule 5 draft. The 40 man roster is fairly clogged with pitchers now, but space could be cleared if needed. For pitching you are looking for realistic upside, which for pitchers is closer to pure upside than for hitters because raw stuff can play at any level. It is a safe bet that any pitcher you take will be a bullpen role (but we can challenge that later).
Reymin Guduan – LHP – Astros – Age 23
Guduan seems like he would be trendy pick for the Phillies if they want a flamethrowing reliever. He is left handed and the Phillies are low on left handers, and he throws hard (touches 100). He has a good slider so there is a base to build a really good arm for the long term. However, the control is a problem as he walked 19 in 16.1 innings in AA this year. You are hoping if you take Guduan that he can make some of the strides that Jimmy Cordero was making for the Phillies after coming over for Ben Revere, but that is always a risk. The upside here is a Jake Diekman style left handed set up reliever.
Jose Martinez – RHP – Diamondbacks – Age 21
This is a bit of a homer pick because I love the raw stuff for Martinez. He is really young and there is the stuff to be a starter (not the experience or the control) because injuries have really set him back. He is a small guy but will pitch at 94-96, touching 99. The knock here is what you are getting in Martinez is really the same as what you left unprotected in Tirado, except without the hi-A experience.
Corey Black – RHP – Cubs – Age 24
Rather than touch on all of the pitchers like Black we are going to just talk about Black and you can transpose it onto a lot of other guys. Black lacks ideal size, but with a fastball in the mid-90s that touched 100 this fall he has the stuff. He will even show an above average to plus slider giving him the potential for two dominant pitches. His control is all over the place and he walked 7 with 6 strikeouts in 8.2 AFL innings. If you think you can fix his control, you can get an elite level reliever, but teams have been trying to fix his control since he was drafted. There are at least half a dozen guys ages 24-26 who fall into this category. It is very reasonable to see the Phillies taking one of these guys if they see some way to “fix” him and get the control to a good place.
Luis Perdomo – RHP – Cardinals – Age 22
2015 Stats: 17 G 100.1 IP 3.68 ERA 31 BB 100 K (low-A)/6 G 26.1 IP 5.13 ERA 6 BB 18 K
Perdomo is an arm you can dream and project some on. He has good size and his stuff is solid enough that he has the ceiling to be a mid rotation starter. He is far away from that, but he may only be a year or so away from being a usable reliever so he might be able to fake so mop up innings for a team looking to hide him. The goal here would be to stash him all year in the back of the bullpen before stretching him back out in 2016. It is a risky strategy, though one that some have employed in the past. I don’t think it is particularly likely that he gets taken, but it is a different avenue to go down.
In the outfielder section I talked briefly about targeting different players in the second round of the Rule 5 draft and focusing on need. The Phillies are looking for another starting pitcher, and there are a couple of AA starters with #4/#5 starter ceilings that could make more intriguing picks if the Phillies want to look in that direction. The goal here would be to get another guy in camp, with the minor investment of just a second round pick, cutting them if David Buchanan beats them out would not be the worst thing.
Chris Devenski/Myles Jaye – RHP – Astros/White Sox – Age 25/23
2015 Stats: Devenski – 24 G 119.2 IP 3.01 ERA 33 BB 104 (AA) / 26 G 147.2 IP 3.29 ERA 47 BB 104 K
Devinski is a soft tossing changeup based righty. There is a good chance that what he does won’t work in a rotation because he sits 89-91 and without the threat of the fastball, the changeup won’t play as well. But with solid command and a show me breaking ball, Devenski could do a lot of similar things to David Buchanan or the myraid of over soft tossing right back end starters for the Phillies (Kendrick, Worley, Pettibone, etc.). Jaye has had some helium in the past to go with poor results, but he seemed to settle in this year in AA. His fastball is a bit better than Devenski, sitting more 91-93. He will show a below average breaking ball and above average changeup, completing the back end starter projection. Jaye is the kind of pitcher who walks on the edge of being unplayable (like all of these guys), but if the Phillies think he can be a #5 starter for them for part of the season, that might be worth it.