Opening Day has come and gone, rosters have been set, and decisions on Rule 5 picks has been made. Nearly three weeks ago, the first instance of a player selected in the Rule 5 draft being returned happened when Atlanta cut ties with left handed reliever Evan Rutckyj and returned him to the Yankees. We've had a few more instances of this happen is recent days.
CF Jake Cave, 23 years old
Promising outfielder and pet prospect of a certain reader, Jake Cave was recently returned to the Yankees by the Reds. Cave posted a .278/.339/.359 line between AA and AAA last year, mostly at AA, with 17 stolen bases, 25 doubles, and 46 walks to 106 punch outs. This amounted to a 102 wRC+ which is ever so slightly above league average. News out of the Bronx says that he is going to start the year at AAA Scranton/W-B where he'll get more seasoning as their starting center fielder.
LHP Chris O'Grady, 26 years old
At the end of March, left handed reliever Chris O'Grady was returned to the Angels by the Reds. A tumultuous spring in which O'Grady was shelled for 10 runs in almost as many innings (9 2/3) made the decision a little easier for Cincinnati. Last year the Angels had O'Grady spend most of his time in AA with a brief stint in AAA mixed in. He tossed 57.2 innings of relief with a 3.28 ERA and 3.50 FIP, striking out 57 while issuing 14 free passes. The soon to be 26 year old was particularly tough against righties, limiting them to a .215/.264/.331 line and he was a bit on the lucky side with a .270 BABIP in general. Word is O'Grady is beginning the season with AAA Salt Lake.
RHP Blake Smith, 28 years old
Right fielder turned pitcher Blake Smith was a long shot to make the Padres roster as one of their four Rule 5 guys in camp. Unfortunately, he didn't make the cut and was sent back to the White Sox in late March. Like Cave and O'Grady, Smith spent the 2015 season splitting time between the Dodgers and White Sox AA squads, and Chicago's AAA team after coming over in a mid-season deal for LHP Eric Surkamp. All told, he toed the rubber for 53 innings of work, posting a composite 2.89 ERA with 64 K's, 27 walks, and 45 hits allowed. The walks were high last year, but improved this Spring, but he was hit hard (7.2 IP, 12 H, 5 R) which lead to his return.
RHP Josh Martin, 26 years old
Another of the Padres Rule 5 players, Martin wasn't able to crack the bullpen leaving RHP Luis Perdomo as the only of the three pitchers to stick around. The 6'5 right hander was very productive out of the Cleveland AA affiliate's bullpen, striking out 80 in 67.1 innings of work with just 19 walks and 47 hits allowed. This was good for a 2.27 ERA and 2.51 FIP. The Padres took a flyer, but Martin was also hit hard this Spring, allowing 13 runs in 11 innings with 16 hits allowed. For now, he's been designated for assignment and is in DFA limbo.
RHP Deolis Guerra, 27 years old
Guerra is an interesting case of a Rule 5 pick. Because Guerra had already been outrighted off Pittsburgh’s roster when he was with the organization prior to the Rule 5 draft, he didn’t have to be returned to the Pirates after the Angels cut ties with him in late March. Last year with the Bucs, he was lights out in AAA, pitching to a 1.23 ERA and 2.15 FIP over 36.2 innings with 37 strike outs to just eight walks and 21 hits allowed. Things weren't so rosy in the Steel City as he was lit up in 16.2 innings with a 6.48 ERA before going down with a knee injury that ended his season in early August. He was knocked around this spring, allowing seven runs in 7.2 innings with 12 hits allowed. One thing in his favor though was the eight strike outs to two walks. Guerra is now pitching for AAA Salt Lake after becoming a free agent and re-signing with the Angles on a minor league deal.