The Rule 5 might not be the most exciting draft, most will pick the June amateur draft, but it nicely breaks up the traditional drought of much needed baseball news in the winter off-months. The basic rule of the Rule 5 is that whoever your team drafts, they must keep them on their starting roster for an entire year or they have to send the draft pick to the original team. The draft consists of two phases, a major league phase and a minor league phase.
In the major league phase the Giants drafted 21-year-old LHP Jose Capellan from the Red Sox farm system. Capellan pitched in the short season class-A New York Penn League in 2007 and put up some great numbers. In 75-some-innings he rarely walked anyone (BB/9 of 1.31), gave up less than a hit per inning pitched, and nearly struck out a batter per inning pitched (K/9 of 8.44). Still, the talent jump from A-ball to the majors is enormous.
Here’s how Sox Prospects describes Capellan:
Capellan works with an arsenal of three pitches that he mixes in well. His fastball sits around 89-91 mph which moves away from righties and in on lefties. Doesn’t get enough swings-and-misses with his fastball, but he does have good command to paint corners. His mid-70s curveball has plus-potential with a nice bite, but Capellan still needs to perfect his command of the pitch. The curve is his best pitch, and he uses it to get out of jams very well. Variations of his curve can also get up to the mid 80s with slurve-type movement. His changeup sits around 78-79 mph and is average to above average. Capellan’s 3/4 delivery is fairly smooth and repeatable. As a lefty, he has a quick sidearm pickoff move to first base. Great clubhouse guy, mature and intimidating mound presence. Good focus. Needs to work on keeping his weight down.
The last line of the scouting report about Capellan’s weight seems to be a common opinion. BA called describe him as “bad body, decent stuff” but if baseball has shown us anything over the years, it’s that you don’t have to be underwear model to succeed (The Fielders, Livan Hernandez, Rod Beck, and a little known guy named Babe Ruth, just to name a few). Still, you’d rather your LOOGY not resemble the blob when he rolls out to the mound.
Kevin Goldstein from BP tagged Capellan as the “sleeper prospect” in his top-11 review of Boston Red Sox farm system. Goldstein stated that:
Long and lanky 21-year-old Dominican southpaw Jose Capellan was Lowell’s most consistent starter this year, finishing with a 3.69 ERA and an impressive 71-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 75 2/3 innings. Capellan’s fastball is average at best, but his breaking ball and changeup are both above-average, as is his command.
In another recent BP article that reviewed the Rule 5 Draft, Goldstein stated that he didn’t think Capellan would stick with the Giants on their 25-man roster, mostly because he’s never even been to AA. The biggest jump in baseball talent is between the lower levels and AA, hitters are more advanced and are much less likely to chase offspeed stuff out of the zone. They’ve seen a curveball before.
Would the Giants just stash Capellan in their bullpen for an entire year hoping to keep him before sending him back to the Red Sox? It’s possible but probably far fetched. I love Capellan’s profile but so far but you can’t deny that he’s really, really far away from the majors. When was the last time that a player leaped from low-A ball all the way to the majors and had success? Even Tim Lincecum made a stop, albeit a brief one, at AAA.
Even though Capellan might not make it to the 25-man roster, I like the draft choice. I would have preferred a hitter but maybe the Giants saw something they really like in Capellan and they are prepared to hang on to him for an entire year? What Capellan does have going for him, despite his minor league numbers, is that he’s going to be entering the mix for a bullpen with weak lefty options. If the Giants would start Jonathan Sanchez like they should, that only leaves Steve Kline, Jack Taschner, and Erick Threets as possible bullpen lefties. Kline will be there because of his contract and veteran savvy, but Taschner has been terrible for 2 years running now and shouldn’t be handed a bullpen spot without earning it. Threets has impressive stuff but he walks everything on the planet. I just had a thought, what would happen if Pedro Feliz took an AB against Threets? Would the universe fold inside out? Would the sky turn purple? Would Dodger fans grow souls? We’ll probably never know. Especially that Dodger thing.
The minor league draft phase was the most predictable thing ever, it found the Giants continuing their weird fetish for not-very-good shortstops. Chances are that if you’re a 25 year old shortstop in A ball with a .220 batting average, the Giants might like you! The Giants drafted another old-ish no-hit shortstop with their minor league pick. A player named Juan Ciriaco from the Padres. Yeah! In your face Padres! Take that!. Wait, you don’t care? Humph! Ciriaco is surely organizational filler but he reminds me a lot of last years Rule 5 minor league phase pick, the great Trey Webb, who we took from the Nationals. Webb’s career minor league OPS is (.663) and Ciriaco’s (.636). We seem to have a ton of shortstops in the organization now. Maybe they can all cage fight each other until the true shortstop emerges.
Rule 5 Draft Picks that I liked
1. Carlos Guevara (selected by the Marlins and traded to the Padres for cash considerations) – First, I love that Guevara throws a dying pitch in the screwball. He’s been dubbed the “screwball specialist” because he’s made it into his out pitch. He only posses an average-ish fastball but the screwbie continues to baffle and confuse minor league hitters. He’s posted a K/9 rate of over 10 since 2004 and in 2007 it was 12.63 in AA-ball. Second, Kevin Towers really does an awesome job of finding cheap, potentially valuable arms for his bullpen. Guevara, if he makes the team, is going to pitch in a great environment in Petco Park and could continue to confuse MLB hitters for the first few go arounds. Love this pick, it’s a cheap move for a potential bullpen arm that teams always seem to overspend on.
2. R.A. Dickey (selected by the Mariners from the Twins) – Another solid, low cost, potential reward pick. Dickey is an amazing story. When he was undergoing a physical from the Rangers, the team discovered the he didn’t have a ligament in his pitching arm. No one knows why the ligament isn’t there or why he can even pick up a ball and throw it with any force. Dickey struggled in the early part of his career but in 2005 he converted himself to a knuckle-baller, under the tutelage of Charlie Hough, and has found new life to his career. He pitched 2007 in the PCL, going 13-6 with a 3.72 ERA and was named the PCL Pitcher of the Year. I really like this pick because Dickey, like Guevara, will really benefit from pitching in his home park. Safeco Field, should take the sting out of flyballs hit against Dickey. If everything works out, the Mariners found themselves an acceptable 5th starter for hardly any cost. Good move.
3. Randor Bierd (selected by the Orioles from the Tigers) - Bierd should stick with the Orioles to offer some bullpen help. The scouting report reads that his fastball is average but he gets good movement on it and he is a sinker/slider type pitcher with a good slider. In ’07 he split time between A-ball and AA, throwing 22 innings in A-ball with a GO/AO of 3.71 and 45.2 innings with a GO/AO of 1.49 in AA. He also missed bats this year, reaching double digit K/9′s at both levels. The Orioles are always looking for bullpen help and I think they found some with Bierd.
For the last bit of Giants news, the team lost Travis Blackley to the Phillies in the Rule 5. I’ve been a Blackley supporter but having him leave isn’t going to hurt the team. He was pretty far down on the SP depth chart anyways. I was happy to see that no other Giants were picked up in the Rule 5. I thought that someone might take a chance on Jessie English and his massive K/9.