08 December 2011
Nevertheless, there's something about the Rule 5 draft that always leads me to expect something different. Even with the rules changing to add an additional year before eligibility in both college players and prep/international signings, some level of talent seems to always be available and we're generally picking near the top anyway. Ivan Nova was eligible a few years back, and heck, he was fourth in Rookie of the Year voting this season because people like their wins wins. This year, I was hoping for something like Ryan Flaherty. Flaherty doesn't really have a place in the Cubs system because they, like us, have way too many third base prospects. But Flaherty is a guy who swings a pretty decent left-handed stick, walking fifty times in each of his full seasons of playing and boasting a .462 career slugging percentage. Even if he didn't hold down third for us, or better options presented themselves, he'd done some time as a utility man and could conceivably serve that role for us. We could use a left-handed, bat-first utility guy, I think. It was a pick that made a lot of sense. And Flaherty did get selected. One pick after we picked up LHP Lucas Luetge from the Brewers.
Prior to the Rule 5 draft this season, Baseball America posted a list of players that were upside picks, more long-term investments for teams, and a list of near-term players who might be able to contribute in 2012 but don't really have extraordinary potential three, four years down the road. Luetge wasn't featured on either list. To outline his capacities in brief, he has a fastball that runs in the mid-to-high-80s, a curveball that sometimes ranks better than average, and an okay change. He's posted decent K-rates in the recent past and has logged a good 113.0 innings at the double-A level, but he also walks his share of guys and is seen of probably as a left-on-left pitcher in what he brings to the table. If this skillset sounds pretty familiar to you, you might also be familiar with farmhand Brian Moran. Who also had a K/BB of roughly 3.00 in 60+ innings in the Southern League last year. The Mariners have added a player who in a lot of respects is like a player we already had, except a year-and-a-half older and formerly of the Brewers organization, which I suppose has to account for something with this front office. To be clear, I'm not saying that Luetge will be returned before spring training closes as have many other relievers before him. That's not really the point. Luetge could indeed be a decent bullpen arm for us next year and beyond. But the selection of a left-on-left reliever, a needed though slightly redundant part, is one of limited vision. I'm not excited by it. This may mean that I'm some variation on disappointed. Or bored.
But we also lost a guy too. In the minor league phase, the Rangers picked up OF Efrain Nunez, who spent last season in Pulaski batting .291/.367/.507. Nunez was interesting insofar as at the time he was signed, as a switch-hitting power bat out of the Dominican, he was regarded as a real acquisition for us in the international market. He hit .267/.387/.441 his first season in the DSL and was rewarded with a promotion to the AZL where he was pretty horrible. In response to this, the M's demoted him again to the DSL where he was a bit less horrible. After that, this season happened. I don't know that I'm excessively worried given that recent history has developed a trend in which players hit quite well in Pulaski and then don't hit very well in any of their subsequent tours of the minor leagues. Nunez himself might have the same happen to him. But he might also benefit from a change of scenery and use this as an opportunity to re-focus himself in a new organization. That's a whole lot of "ifs" to consider there, but on the whole, I think losing him makes me slightly more nervous than I am in any way comforted by the addition of Luetge. That doesn't seem to be right.
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