May 28, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Julio Borbon (20) hits a single against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Diamonds in the Rough? The Minor League Portion of the Rule 5 Draft

Since we’ve already covered the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, I thought that we’d take some time on a slow-news Sunday and look for some gems of player who were selected in the minor league portion of the draft.

The first name that pops out (other than Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson) is LHP Evan Crawford who was selected third in the minor league phase by the Chicago White Sox from the Toronto Blue Jays. Crawford, 27, made a few appearances in the big leagues in 2012 but spent most of this season coming back from injury without particularly good numbers. He has much better splits against lefties and could be a LOOGY somewhere down the line.

Miami got a 6’5″, 250 lb left-handed hitting first baseman from the Cubs in Justin Bour. He’s got very solid power over his minor league career, posting solid ISOs about about .140 (and mostly hovering in the .170 range) since his first full season in 2010. He hit 35 extra-base hits in Double-A Tennessee last year in only 361 plate appearances and, despite a low batting average (.235), had an ISO of .224 in his second season at the level.

San Diego took SS Jake Lemmerman from St. Louis. Lemmerman is a 24 year old who has an excellent eye at the plate but has had issues making contact at the Double-A level. Lemmerman is still fairly young and has shown some gap power and the ability to steal a base here and there. He’s played all over the infield and could be solid depth within the Padres organization.

Interestingly, major leaguer Julio Borbon was selected by the Baltimore Orioles. He’s declined quite steadily since his rookie year in 2009 but at the age of 27, there could be something left in him as a reclamation project.

23 year old Mikey O’Brien, selected by the Reds from the Yankees, shows some promise, reaching Double-A last year. While he still struggles a bit with control, he’s shown improvements, particularly in his strikeout rates over his time at the same levels (High-A and Double-A) last year.

Despite being a little old for the Class-A Midwest League, 24-year-old Australian Tim Atherton dominated the level in 2013 and struck out more than a batter per inning and almost three per walk to get the attention of the Oakland A’s who picked him up from the Minnesota Twins.

The Chicago White Sox picked up another interesting player in the second round in catcher Omar Narvaez from the Tampa Bay Rays. Narvaez, a 21-year-old Venezuelan has thrown out a minimum of 45% of base runners attempting to steal in his minor league career and 50% last year in the New York-Penn League. Narvaez hasn’t shown much (ok, any) power but he does appear to have good bat control, striking out 21 times in a short season at the most.

St. Louis selected a very young Jesus Ustariz from the Detroit Tigers and might have a gem on their hands. Ustariz is only 20 years old and played a lot of first base for the Tigers’ GCL and New York-Penn League affiliates. While he shows some good power (particularly in the GCL), Ustariz will have to make huge strides with the bat to stick at first.

Houston took 22-year-old Mexican lefty Carlos Vazquez from the Mets and could have something on their hands. He appears to have been injured for much of 2013 but posted very solid numbers in Class-A in 2012 and High-A in 2013.

It’s hard to know what to make of 22-year-old Mexican righty Felipe Gonzalez. On the one hand, he posted outstanding numbers in the GCL last season in his first season in North America but he’s been playing for the Yankees in their Dominican Summer League complex since 2008 so the question arises, why hasn’t he been brought over sooner? A 22 year old in the GCL doesn’t speak to much in the way potential going forward unless the Pirates accelerate his development a lot in 2014.

Tags: Chicago White Sox

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