No this post isn’t about the delicious hamburger joint, but it is something fun!
Baseball sure has been busy this week, even the Indians (my twitter timeline appreciates the baseball talk in the 30 degree weather).
The Indians added five new players to their 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft as you saw in Susan’s post.
If you are unsure of the Rule 5 Draft: basically, if a player drafted by the Indians who was 18 at the time of drafting and and spends six seasons in the Indians organization without making it to the majors or onto the 40 man roster before those six years, he is eligible to be picked off in the Rule 5 draft by any other team. If the player is 19 or older when drafted, it’s five years instead of six.
In order for the team that selects a player in the Rule 5 draft, that player must remain on their 25 man roster the entire season or be offered back to the original team with a fee. If you require more info: check this link.
Sorry for all the pre-cursor jargon but this topic generates a lot of questions.
OF Carlos Moncrief (25 years old, hit .285 this year with 17 home runs) – Hiding an outfielder who is only in his fourth year as a position player on a 25 man roster all year, especially when said player finished at AA in 2013, seems unlikely. However, Moncrief did something pretty impressive this year. Not only did he cut his strikeouts from 196 to 98, despite playing 28 more games. The fact that he was able to develop better plate discipline at AA, is impressive. A former pitcher and the arm in right field shows that, also has some speed and obvious power. His breakout year warranted protection on the 40 man.
RHP Austin Adams (26 years old posted a 2.26 ERA in 55 innings, 76 strikeouts and 29 walks) Adams bounced back from missing all of 2012 because of shoulder surgery that could have easily ended his career. Now a full-time reliever, Adams once again looks like a pitcher with a future in the big leagues. Now he even flashes the potential to be a back end reliever. Despite coming off major surgery, Adams was throwing 95-100 with a nice slider and the right demeanor to be a closer. Relievers are the easiest to stash on a 25 man roster in the Rule 5, the Orioles kept former Indian starter, TJ McFarland, all season in 2012. Adams has enough to be a closer and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him in the Indians plans in 2014 somewhere in the bullpen, with a chance to prove himself in higher leverage situations, like a Cody Allen or Vinnie Pestano.
1B Jesus Aguilar (23 year old led the eastern league in 2013 with 150 RBIs and currently has 10 home runs in the Venezuelan Winter League) Nobody was going to touch Aguilar in 2012 when the Indians left him unprotected from the Rule 5. He was a first basemen with power potential who finished in AA. He went out, made some nice adjustments and only led the entire Indians organization in RBIs. I also wonder if his strong start in Venezuela this winter gave him that little something extra in the Indians eyes to protect him. He has also played some third base for his winter club, mostly due to injury. It does not appear that the Indians view him as a real option at third. The odds of someone trying to keep him on their 25 man roster all of 2014 seemed unlikely but now this shows the Indians feel he can be a part of the equation at some point, most likely 2015 however.
RHP Bryan Price (27 year old finished 2013 healthy with a 2.04 ERA, 92 strikeouts, 16 walks in 75 innings) You probably haven’t heard much about Price and that’s a shame. He came along with Justin Masterson and Nick Hagadone for Victor Martinez in 2009. He’s been hurt a little and finally finished 2013 at Columbus and flourished. He’s 6’4 and comes from Rice as a former first round pick. He probably doesn’t have the fastball like Adams or the stuff overall, but like Adams, he would have been a reliever in someone’s bullpen likely easy to stash. Given the turnover in the Indians bullpen right now, he is a depth option for callup in 2014.
INF Erik Gonzalez (22 year old hit 9 home runs with a .254 average while proving himself all around the infield) This addition was a bit of a surprise. He finished at High-A Carolina and was uninspiring there. Infielders who haven’t played above High-A for even a full season don’t normally get snatched up in a Rule 5 draft, which is what makes this surprising, not Gonzalez’s talent. He played for the Captains early in the year, played shortstop with nice range and a better arm. He shifted to third and second base, even filled in at first base very well. He hit 23 doubles and all nine home runs at Lake County before moving up. He is hitting .351 with a homer but has 27 strikeouts and just two walks in 26 games. He put up a 109/29 K/BB ratio during the season, showing he needs to improve there. He obviously opened some eyes in 2013, just not sure anyone would have tried to take him for all of 2014.
In all this, 2B Cord Phelps was designated for assignment. Phelps was behind Jason Kipnis at second base both offensively and defensively. After hitting 16 home runs in a fine 2012 the Indians tried to find a spot for him, moving him around shortstop, third base, a little first base and briefly (very) worked him in the outfield. He finished 2013 on the disabled list and became expendable. Expect him to pass waivers however.
Some notable non-additions were 3B Giovanni Urshella, who many like. His glove at third is major league caliber already but is too aggressive of a swinger at the plate to make an impact. He has power but likely won’t ever hit for a high average or get on base at a high clip. He will probably repeat at AA Akron to start the year at least.
LHP Giovanni Soto, brought over in the 2010 Jhonny Peralta trade, is a Rule 5 draft candidate. Despite missing most of 2013 due to an injury, Soto is a left hander who doesn’t throw anything straight. He was converting to a reliever for 2013 (think Rafael Perez) and if a team thinks his health is there, he would be easy to hide in their bullpen as a second lefty and use him in match-ups. His cut fastball and change up make him a nice option as a LOOGY.
OF LeVon Washington was also up for consideration as well after one of the better second halves put together by an Indians prospect. Given the addition of Moncrief and the signing of David Murphy and that Washington still had finished at Low-A Lake County, that he should make it through the draft still in their possesion. Most felt because of the $1.2 signing bonus the Indians had invested in him, they wouldn’t risk losing him, even though they still shouldn’t.
Baseball never quits!
Follow Justin at JL_Baseball on twitter.