Monday, December 9, 2013

2014 Minnesota Twins Rule 5 Draft Primer

There are some benefits to Minnesota's finish near the bottom of the AL for the third straight year. Later this week, the Twins will have a top five pick in this year's Rule 5 Draft. For those not familiar, the Rule 5 Draft allows MLB teams to claim players not protected by their parent club on the team's 40-man roster. There obviously some rules to this process.

Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 Draft process. Players signed at 19 years or older must be protected within four seasons. A team that selects a player pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season or offer him back to his original club for $25,000.

Prospects that fit a certain type of mold in the Rule 5 Draft are more likely to stick with an organization. Power arms that have above-average velocity so they can slide into a bullpen role. Teams are always looking for left-handed pitchers. Speedy middle infielders and center fielders can be used as defensive replacements and pinch runners. Corner outfielders and first basemen could provide power off the bench.

In recent years, the Twins have used Rule 5 Draft picks on Ryan Pressly, Terry Doyle, and Scott Diamond. Pressly stuck with the Twins for all of last season and proved himself to be a valuable piece of the bullpen. Doyle didn't pan out with the Twins and he was offered back to the White Sox before he headed over to Japan. The Twins worked out a trade with the Braves to keep Diamond in the organization and this way he didn't have to stay on the 25-man roster for the entire season.
Here's a look a few of the players the Twins could be targeting on December 12th:

Junior Arias, OF, Reds: He doesn't have a lot of experience in the higher levels of the minor leagues as he finished last year at High-A. He would turn 22-years old before the start of next season and he offers a unique skill set. He hit 15 home runs last year and stole 60 bases. This combination of speed and power could be valuable to multiple clubs.

Fit with Minnesota: He could be used as a defensive replacement in the outfield, a late-inning pinch runner, and he has enough power to be a threat off the bench.

Danny Burawa, RHP, Yankees: Control is the biggest issue for Burawa but he definitely fits the mold of a power arm. He missed all of 2012 due to injury and pitched fairly successfully out of the bullpen at Double-A last year. He has a three-pitch offering but his secondary pitches need some work. Burawa had a great second half of last season and his mid-90s fastball could be enough for a team to take a chance.

Fit With Minnesota: He could slide into the bullpen much like Pressly did in 2013. The Twins relief pitching is strong but another power arm could always help.

Marcus Hatley, RHP, Cubs: Hatley has already made it to the Triple-A level with some success out of the bullpen. He's a monster on the mound at 6-foot-5 and his fastball can hit into the mid-90s. There are some issues with his command as he walked 35 batters in 60.2 innings this season. Although, the 25-year old did have a 11.0 SO/9 rate to cancel out some of his control issues.

Fit With Minnesota: His advanced experience in the minors makes him intriguing. His strikeout ability could be added to the bullpen and become a valuable piece moving forward.

Stephen Kohlscheen, RHP, Mariners: Kohlscheen seems to fit the mold of pitchers the Twins have looked for in the past. He has a low-90s fastball but he was dominant at Double-A last year. Over 66.2 innings, the 24-year old struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings. His 6-foot-6 frame is opposing on the mound and he could fit into a rebuilding team's bullpen. One would have to wonder if he would be able to strikeout batters as consistently at the big league level.

Fit With Minnesota: His success last year in his first full season at Double-A could signal a sign of bigger things to come. Minnesota could add him to the bullpen and hope his success continues.

Fred Lewis, LHP, Yankees: He's left-handed and he throws in the low-90s so this should be more than enough to get a team interested in his services. Lewis has been used as a reliever and a starter but his path to the big leagues is likely out of the bullpen. The Yankees sent him to the Arizona Fall League this year but it still wasn't enough to protect the 26-year old. Most of his innings this past year were at Double-A Trenton.

Fit With Minnesota: The Twins have other left-handed arms in the bullpen so he might not be the perfect fit. The potential is there so it might be worth taking a chance just because he is left-handed.

Who would be the best fit for the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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