The Rule 5 draft wraps up the winter meetings tomorrow. The Phillies finalized their 40 man protections almost a month ago and look to be more in the category of picking players over being picked. However, the Rule 5 draft is weird and scouts sometimes see players in a different role going forward than what they are in right now. A couple years ago the Cubs took a converted hitter out of the Phillies system in RHP Lendy Castillo, so everything is possible, so we might as well talk about some players who could be taken if another team feels the urge.
Colton Murray – RHP
If you look up middle relief prospect in a dictionary the description is going to be something that sounds like Murray. Plus fastball, possible plus breaking ball, fringe average third pitch, possible control problems. Not being on the 40 man does not mean Murray is less of a prospect than the guy who dominated AA. If it all breaks right he can be Justin De Fratus of the future, but that is probably his ceiling. If someone is desperate for a middle reliever I think Murray is certainly a possibility as he offers more safety than other right handed relievers available, but most teams are going to take a chance on the plus plus or elite fastball guy first before looking at Murray.
Miguel Nunez – RHP
Nunez is a personal favorite of mine. It is a back end starter profile with a low-90s fastball, a solid breaking ball, and solid changeup. Nunez just turned 22 and has the frame that teams covet (6’6″ 215) and as limited mileage on his arm after missing the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Nunez has never pitched above A-ball, but he ended his year with a very strong July and August. A team could see Nunez as a guy whose stuff could tick up in a relief role and could be sent back down to develop as a starter after hiding in the bullpen all year. That being said, the upside isn’t huge here and that lack of potential pay off and his low minors profile keeps him safe this year.
Brian Pointer – OF
Pointer is an enigma. He puts up the counting stats (15 HRs 16SBs in 2014) to indicate a player better than the raw tools. His second half was blazingly hot (.271/.359/.492) but his stint in winter league has not (.169/.259/.310). All in all Pointer is more 4th/5th outfielder and a bit more of a fringe prospect than the numbers indicate. If you are looking for an outfielder there are players with more upside and proximity than Pointer.
Willians Astudillo – C/1B/LF/2B?/3B?
Astudillo has the best pure hit tool in the Phillies system and is the toughest man in baseball to strikeout. The problem is he fits absolutely no mold of any type of player in the game right now. It might be generous to say he has 30 power potential, he walks at clip close to his strikeout rate (in other words, almost never), and he can’t steal bases. It is the definition of empty batting average. Then there is the defense, before his knee injury Astudillo could catch at a decent level, but he hasn’t shown that. The Phillies are experimenting with him all around the diamond, but there haven’t been any glowing reports yet. In the end it is really tough to see where he fits on a major league bench, and tough to figure out what his actual upside and role are. Maybe some takes him and plugs him into a system, but more likely teams opt for more conventional profile.
Seth Rosin – RHP
The allure a year ago when Rosin was taken by the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft was that his stuff would play up out of the bullpen after being a starter in 2013. In the majors, it did not as he topped out at 92.5 in his 4 innings of work for the Rangers. Rosin is an older, larger bodied version of the description of Colton Murray. He does come with less bat missing ability, more ground balls, and a better control, but the ceiling is in the same place. There are players with more upside than Rosin, who are also younger, so it is hard to see him getting picked again. Instead he is likely to join a stacked AAA bullpen.
Ethan Stewart – LHP
If you are looking for the player a team takes based purely on potential it is Stewart. The tall LHP has a fastball that is mostly 91-93, but he has flashed much higher at points in his career. He takes to coaching well and has a slider that is plus now with room for more. It is the dominant lefty reliever profile teams covet, and the price is just getting him to throw strikes. Since moving to the pen Stewart has added the ability to miss bats to his arsenal and is a candidate to move quickly if he can put the pieces together.
Austin Wright – LHP
A year ago Wright was a lock to get a 40 man spot, but the fastball is down at least half a grade, the curveball has less bite, and he walked 44 in 48 innings while only striking out 38. A team taking Wright is looking at an old scouting report and thinking they can fix him after his injuries.
Out of Left Field:
Edubray Ramos – RHP
Ramos is a name that is likely unfamiliar to Phillies fans. He only made it to Williamsport in 2014 and his a reliever. But by the nature both of being signed by the Cardinals in 2010 and signing two professional contracts he is eligible for the draft. Ramos turns 22 next week so his age is not particularly attractive, but his stuff is. The fastball was 91-94 touching 96 out of the bullpen and the slider is a real bat misser. He has a changeup and a curveball too, and showed great control in 2014 (2 walks in 22.2 innings in Williamsport). It is a real long shot that any team takes Ramos in the Rule 5 draft, but his arsenal is electric and his ceiling in the bullpen is quite high.
Adam Loewen – LHP
I am an unabashed fan of Loewen’s story in the Phillies system. Loewen signed a two year minor league deal with the Phillies so he will be back in 2015 after putting up a 3.25 ERA across two levels and 113.2 innings in the Phillies system. The old electricity isn’t back for Loewen, but he is left handed with a fastball at 89-91 touching 92 and has regained feel for his curveball. I doubt any team would take him and look at him as a starter, but a team may think they can get a LOOGY for cheap if his stuff comes back even more in a relief role.