As we’ve discussed previously, the Rule 5 draft is no longer what it once was, thanks to the rule changes that have effectively turned it into an exercise of roster-filling. Sadly, that’s a reference the minor-league phase, for which the information is sorely lacking. As I summed up last year (dates adjusted, of course):
There are also two other phases, the AAA and the AA, which are something of a misnomer because there’s no requirement that the player has played or will play at that level in 2011 or 2012. Basically, it amounts to teams being able to protect up to 38 players in the AAA phase and up to 37 players in the AA phase. Who is or will be protected is anyone’s guess. This information simply is not released to anyone outside of baseball.
If you’ll recall, the Nationals chose Elvin Ramirez and Brian Broderick in the major-league phase and Michael Allen in the AAA phase. None of them “stuck” with the club, with Ramirez spending the season on the DL, Broderick famously flaming out in early April (and struggled for AAA Memphis), and Allen was released in late March.
Two Nationals were named in the BA stories that previewed the potential targets: Brad Meyers and Josh Smoker. As we mentioned yesterday, Smoker is considered the most viable by the prospect pundits. Here’s the upshot from BA:
His fastball touched 98 at times and sat in the 91-94 mph range, and his curveball and changeup have their moments, with the curve flashing plus. He’ll never throw a ton of quality strikes; as one scout put it this summer, “(The Nationals) have told him, ‘To hell with teaching you to throw, just let it all hang out.’ That’s what he’s doing.”
Brad Meyers was listed among “Other Possibilities” without comment. A recently discovered list of Rule 5 eligibles, describes Meyers thusly: “6’6″ 195 LBS with Deceptive Delivery, Above Average Command of 87-92 MPH Fastball, 3 Average Offspeed Pitches; Career 2.86 ERA, 3.60 K/BB” It bears repeating that just five of the 19 players drafted last year stuck: four relievers, and former National Michael Martinez. As much as we may value Meyers, the odds are overwhelming that he’ll either not be drafted or be returned before the season starts.
So who are the other potential targets for the Nationals and other teams on Thursday? That’s the subject for Part 2