Continuing our series of Rule 5 Draft Targets, we head to the big apple for the New York Mets. For a primer on the workings of the Rule 5 draft, please look at the inaugural post in the series featuring the Atlanta Braves for the particulars and examples of who would be eligible and who would not. Again, only players in full season leagues will be considered for this exercise.
Protected MiLB Players
- RP Vic Black (MLB)
- SP Jake DeGrom (AAA)
- SP Erik Goeddel (AA)
- RP Jeff Walters (AA)
Left Handed Pitchers
- SP Steven Matz (A)
- CF Matt den Dekker (MLB)
- RF Cesar Puello (AA)
Unprotected MiLB Players
For the Rule 5 eligible players, I'd like to go team-by-team through their system to look at players with the potential to be picked. I'll start with the AAA Las Vegas 51's and work my way down the ladder.
AAA Las Vegas 51's
The Mets made a risky play by signing Joel Carreno so early in the offseason. He was not added to the 40-man roster after signing a minor league deal this winter so he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. In his first season strictly in the bullpen, the 6'2 220 pound righty dominated AA and AAA for the Blue Jays. The 26 year old (turns 27 in March) posted a combined 2.43 ERA with 90 strike outs (12.2 K/9), 24 walks (3.2 BB/9) and 39 hits (5.3 H/9) in 66.2 innings. He could easily fill a middle relief role for a team and I fully expect him to be pulled from under the Mets' nose. It took three stints at AA before the Mets thought Eric Campbell could handle AAA and he didn't disappoint. The 26 year old (turns 27 in April) played at least 26 games at each corner spot, hitting .314/.435/.475 in 341 at bats. The 8th round selection of the Mets in the 2008 draft from Boston College, he hit 25 doubles, 8 home runs, stole 12 bags and had a great 66/60 BB/K ratio this past season. A team looking for versatility in the corners could have interest in Campbell due to his pop and excellent eye at the plate.
Its really hard for me to see a team taking a flyer on Chris Schwinden this year. He went through a very rough 2013 getting hit hard in AAA with a 5.78 ERA and 188 hits allowed in 146.1 innings. The other eligible pitcher, John Church had a solid season pitching in relief for AA and AAA, posting a 3.34 ERA in 64.2 innings while striking out more than a batter per inning (9.5). He doesn't really stand out, was a 23rd round pick in 2009 out of the University of West Florida, and will be 27 years old next year. Infielder Reese Havens is likely to not get picked as well, hitting .237 in just 97 at bats in his first look at AAA at age 26. The former 22nd overall pick in 2008 moved to third base this year but it doesn't really matter where he shows up on the diamond because more than likely he's on the DL. A team would really have to believe in Rylan Sandoval's AAA line this past season for him to be picked. Prior to his promotion he had topped out at AA playing 25 games there. He hit .327/.378/.509 in Vegas with eight doubles and four home runs in 110 at bats, playing defense all around the infield. He's a very long shot to get picked out of the system.German born Kai Gronauer saw back up duty this past season, only making 39 trips to the plate in 18 games. I think it's safe to say back ups don't see much attention in the Rule 5 draft.
AA Binghamton Mets
I was a little surprised to see a pair of names from the Binghamton squad unprotected in Darin Gorski and Allan Dykstra. Gorski found his way onto a handful of Top 20 lists prior to 2012 but fell off after a rough going in his first crack at AA. The former 7th round pick in 2009 from Kutztown University repeated AA this year and dominated to the tune of a 1.83 ERA with just 46 hits allowed (5.3H/9) in 78.2 innings with 67 punch outs (7.7 K/9) and 22 walks (2.5 BB/9). He was hit much harder in 13.2 AAA innings (6.59 ERA, 11.2 H/9) but has relief potential due to a crazy reverse platoon split. Right handed hitters only managed a .158/.228/.221 line against him with 60 strike outs and 21 walks. Dykstra was the best hitter in the Mets system this past season, showing off a keen eye and punishing mistakes. The former 1st round pick in 2008 from Wake Forest is imposing in the left handed box, standing 6'5 and 215 pounds. He has a career .405 on base percentage and has walked over 100 times in a season twice now. In 2013 he hit .274/.436/.503 with 22 doubles, 21 home runs, 102 walks and 123 strike outs while driving in 82. He could be taken in the Rule 5 draft by an American League squad looking for some thump at first and DH and he will be hitting his physical peak turning 27 mid-season.
Mark Cohoon isn't going anywhere after getting hit hard (11.0 H/9, 3.99 ERA) in his 4th try at AA. The smalli-sh southpaw Jim Fuller likely will be staying put also. He checks in at 5'10 and 180 pounds and was drafted in the 21st round in 2008 from Southern Connecticut State. He missed all of 2011 and part of 2012 with surgery to repair a torn labrum and the 26 year old was hammered in his first look at AA with a 7.50 ERA in 18 innings. Left fielder Joe Bonfe was a back up in AA at age 25, so there's a good chance he stays put as well. Michael Fisher is listed as restricted on the roster and has only been to the plate 86 times in the past two seasons, including zero in 2013. He's staying. Center fielder Alonzo Harris was a 39th round lottery ticket in 2007 from a Mississippi high school and just now cracked the AA line up. He didn't do well in 2013, hitting only .218/.285/.305 in 354 at bats. Not a chance he gets picked, even for pinch runner duty.
A+ St. Lucie Mets
It's been a slow ascension, but TJ Chism has been a dominant force at the end of the game. The 5'10 190 pound southpaw is looking like a late round steal coming out of LaSalle in the 32nd round of the 2009 draft. The 25 year old would be a high risk pick in the Rule 5 draft due to his inexperience at higher levels. This past season he had a 2.21 ERA in 61 innings while limiting left handed hitters to a .188/.235/.281 line with 8.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and just 7.7 H/9. His fastball tops out around 92 and he throw both a 4- and 2- seamer along with a slider and change up in the high 70's. A cheap LOOGY could be on a number of team's wish lists so he could warrant a pick.
The rest of the relief pitchers listed have extensive injury history with Cody Satterwhite missing two full seasons (2010, 2012) and Taylor Whitenton missing all of 2013. Satterwhite has the draft pedigree being selected out of the 2nd round by Detroit back in 2008 from the University of Mississippi. He had a dominant AFL that wrapped up a few weeks ago where he didn't allow an earned run all fall, and performed well in his first season with the Mets, racking up strike outs (9.1 K/9) and ground ball outs (2.14 GO/FO) to go with hits (9.5 H/9) and walks (5.1 BB/9). His fastball tops out in the low 90's and he has a firm change up at 85 and a good slider around 80. It would be a reach for him to get picked. Whitenton doesn't have a stand out pitch but did post impressive numbers in his first season in relief in 2012 (2.24 ERA, 10.9 K/9, 6.7 H/9). The 6'3 190 pound righty was a 39th round pick in 2009 from Darton CC in Albany, GA and will be 26 opening day with High A as his peak. I don't think anyone is going to go for him. Angel Cuan is an undersized Panamanian southpaw signed in 2007. The 5'11 160 pound lefty did well in 2013, even earning a spot start at AA in July, posting a 3.62 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 while giving up 108 hits in 109.1 innings. The problem is his fastball which can barely scrape 90. Finesse lefties can survive in the game (Hello, Jamie Moyer) but they are few and far between these days. Corner infielder Aderlin Rodriguez showed off his power once again in an injury shortened season hitting .260/.296/.427 with 9 home runs and 14 doubles in 62 games. The 6'3 210 pound Dominican has youth on his side, playing next year at 22 years old, but I can't see a team trying to pick him in the Rule 5. Having him spend an entire season rotting on the bench will definitely stunt his development. He doesn't walk much but does have some serious power though. Robbie Shields is a long shot, only hitting .231/.287/.312 over 337 at bats in his 3rd extended stay in the Florida State league. The 6'1 195 pound guardian of the hot corner will be 26 and has stalled at High A.
A Savannah Sand Gnats
- RHP Jake Kuebler
- RHP Wanel Mesa
- C Albert Cordero
Righty Jake Kuebler just finished his first season pitching after five years in the Kansas City organization as a corner infielder with a .222 career batting average. In 2013 the 6'5 200 pounder threw 81.2 innings of 2.76 ERA ball, 6.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. He will be 24 next season and is about as unlikely as it gets for a Rule 5 pick. Wanel Mesa missed all of 2011 and 2012 with an injury, coming back this year with very unimpressive results. Every team can and should pass. Catcher Albert Cordero spent his 4th season in Savannah, this time as the back up catcher. He doesn't have a shot at getting picked even though he threw out 46% of runners trying to steal.
The Mets could see up to 5 players get picked off their rosters, including three pitchers in TJ Chism, Darin Gorski, and Joel Carreno, a first baseman (Allan Dykstra) and corner man Eric Campbell. From that list I see the most likely selection being Carreno with his track record with Dykstra coming in next, then Gorski. Chism and Campbell I see as the least likely, but crazier things have happened in baseball.