A Quick Update on the 2011 Rule 5 Draftees

March 7, 2012; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Ryan Flaherty (3) catches a pop-up by Minnesota Twins batter Rene Tosoni (not shown) in the ninth inning at Ed Smith Stadium. The Orioles defeated the Twins 6 - 0. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

We’re in the midst of spring training, and with all the stories flying around out there, the fate of the twelve 2011 Rule 5 selections is rarely mentioned. You forgot they existed too, didn’t you? Admit it!

None of the twelve players have been sent back to their original organizations just yet, so here’s a quick look at what sort of start they’re off to in their quest to stick on the 25-man roster.

Before we begin–yes, I know that two innings or ten at-bats means nothing. These players will likely be evaluated more on spring performance than others, though, as their organizations are just getting to know them. More than anything, though, this is meant as a quick refresher than the Rule 5 saga is indeed going on behind the scenes.

Rhiner Cruz, Astros. Cruz is a hard-throwing reliever who’s never thrown strikes, which was quite apparent in his one spring outing, where he didn’t record an out, walked two, and allowed two hits and four runs. He seemed like a big reach to me, and he’s obviously not off to a good start.

Terry Doyle, Twins. Doyle was one of my favorite picks in the draft, as he’s had a great minor league career and was probably the AFL’s top pitcher last year. He’s started one game with Minnesota, going two hitless innings with a strikeout, a walk, and a hit batter. Given his polish, there’s a lot of reason to believe he could be a decent MLB pitcher this year, so he faces better odds than most.

Lucas Luetge, Mariners. Luetge’s been hit around a bit, though he has five strikeouts and one walk in three innings, so that’s good. He’s another pitcher who’s had a lot of success up through the Double-A level, but his upside is obviously not that great, given that he’s basically just a generic LOOGY type. His case probably comes down to how comfortable Seattle is with their other lefty relief options.

Ryan Flaherty, Orioles. Lauded by most as the best pick in the Rule 5, Flaherty’s 3-for-12 with a triple thus far. Notably, he’s struck out just once after whiffing 23.7% of the time in Triple-A last year. Like Doyle, Flaherty has a chance at not only sticking, but also playing decently in the regular season.

Cesar Cabral, Yankees. Another rather nondescript lefty specialist, Cabral is in a similar spot as Luetge–I guess he could be a decent second lefty this year, and he hasn’t really embarrassed himself in three spring innings, but it’s not like he’s gone out and dominated in a way that would get the Yankees’ attention. After all, they’re the Yankees, and I can’t recall the last time they actually kept a Rule 5 pick around.

Lendy Castillo, Cubs. Castillo’s a hard-throwing converted shortstop who hasn’t pitched above Low-A, so he’s the definition of a long shot. He hasn’t fallen on his face yet, though, allowing just a hit, a run, and a walk in two innings.

Gustavo Nunez, Pirates. A prototypical all-glove, no-bat shortstop, Nunez was placed on the 60-day DL on February 20 with an ankle injury, the move that cleared space for A.J. Burnett.

Robert Fish, Braves. A hard-throwing lefty reliever, Fish has never quite put it all together, allowing a lot of walks and homers in his career. After a perfect inning on March 5 against the Astros, he allowed two runs on three hits in an inning against the Mets earlier this afternoon–probably not what he wants to do at this point. Unless the Braves suddenly have a love for Erick Threets-type pitchers, I doubt Fish sticks–he’s a worse bet than Luetge and Cabral.

Erik Komatsu, Cardinals. A solid all-around outfielder who had a nice year in Double-A in 2011, Komatsu was one of the better picks of the draft, in my opinion. He’s been mainly used as a bench player by St. Louis, going 2-for-8 with a walk, a steal, and a strikeout in five games. His candidacy will likely come down to a roster crunch; there’s reason to believe he can hang in as a fifth outfielder if given the chance.

Marwin Gonzalez, Astros. Another glove-oriented, hit-challenged shortstop, Gonzalez is 1-for-9 with a walk and two strikeouts. Like Cruz, he didn’t seem to be a strong pick at the time of the draft, and he’s done nothing since that would seem to make him a good candidate for Houston.

Brett Lorin, Diamondbacks. A favorite of mine as a potential poor man’s Doug Fister, Lorin’s breezed through two perfect innings this spring, striking out one. He’s an interesting pitcher, but he’s never pitched above A-ball, and the Diamondbacks are stacked with young arms. Then again, so were the Royals last year, and they found room for Nate Adcock…

Brad Meyers, Yankees. Another Fister type, Meyers has extensive Triple-A experience, so he should be able to slot right in just like a “normal” rookie. He has yet to pitch this spring.

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Topics: Brad Meyers, Brett Lorin, Cesar Cabral, Erik Komatsu, Gustavo Nunez, Lendy Castillo, Lucas Luetge, Marwin Gonzalez, Rhiner Cruz, Robert Fish, Rule 5 Draft, Ryan Flaherty, Terry Doyle

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