The Actual Rule 5 Picks

As we speculated last night, the Padres were active in today’s Rule 5 draft, although they didn’t grab any of the players we suggested (outside of a brief encounter with Justin Haley). A series of trades netted San Diego the top three players selected in the draft, an unprecedented Rule 5 romp. Here are those players:

Miguel Diaz, RHP, Brewers

Diaz is a 22-year-old righty who spent spent four years in rookie ball before jumping to Single-A last season. The results were largely impressive: in 94 2/3 innings, Diaz posted a 3.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio while surrendering just seven home runs. Ultimately, with young players and limited pro experience, scouting reports often provide a better glimpse than the stats. Grant Jones scouted Diaz back in June at Baseball Prospectus, clocking him at 95-96 with the fastball (he touched 98) while handing out positives marks on both the slider and change.

It’s not a surprising pick. As we discussed last night, Preller and the Padres love power arms, and Diaz definitely qualifies. While it makes some sense to slot Diaz right into the starting rotation, if he sticks, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Padres started him off in the bullpen, where they can more easily limit high-stress innings and keep the pressure low.

Luis Torrens, C, Yankees

A 20-year-old Venezuelan, Torrens missed 2015 due to a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, and his ability to bounce back from that was a major question mark coming into the season. While the numbers only say so much, Torrens threw base runners out at an excellent 41 percent clip last year split between low-A and Single-A, right on his career average. The arm, at least, doesn’t appear to be a major issue. Once tabbed as a breakout candidate by Jason Parks, there’s seemingly a good bit of upside here. Of course, as is often the case with young Rule 5 selections, the jump for A-ball to the majors, especially for an inexperienced catcher, is a big one.

Allen Cordoba, SS, Cardinals

Cordoba’s numbers are enticing. He hit .362/.427/.495 last year with 21 walks and 19 whiffs in 220 plate appearances, not to mention a 22-for-26 record in base thievery. Then again, it all happened in the rookie level Appalachian League. Cordoba looks perfectly good as a prospect—and he was tabbed for having an advanced approach by Wilson Karaman in the summer—but the question comes back to whether the Padres can find a way to keep him on a major-league roster all season long while selling tickets for $63 a pop. It’s not that Cordoba couldn’t be stashed somewhere on the bench, playing mostly as a pinch runner/defensive replacement. It’s just that too many of those players could severely limit Andy Green‘s flexibility, plus keeping a 21-year-old away from everyday playing time at an appropriate level is akin to turning normal player-development on its head.

All three players have international backgrounds and look like upside plays more than roster filler, which fits in with A.J. Preller’s track record and the state of the organization. It’s probably a stretch to imagine all three guys staying around past spring training, but if the Padres like what they see, there’s little risk in taking a flyer and adding more young talent to the organization. While none of the three project to help the Padres win games in 2017, the Padres aren’t exactly in the business of winning games in 2017. One of the many benefits of stinking is being able to carry a couple of Rule 5ers around all year, and we’ve seen the dividends it can pay with someone like Luis Perdomo.

Sure, the Rule 5 draft can be compared to sifting through the corner thrift store, but give the Padres credit for entering with a credit card and exiting with three shopping carts full.

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  • Stuart Shaffer

    With the at least temporary additions of Diaz, Torrens, and Cordoba, I suspect San Diego now has more talented Rookie League, Short-Season, and Class A players than any other franchise in organized baseball. Of course, that doesn’t mean much to today’s Padres fans, but it should improve Petco Park’s fortunes in the near future. Also, while one or more of these three young men might be returned to their original organizations, we should note that Mr. Preller went to a lot of trouble and expense to get them. That tells us something about his intentions.

    • Yup. Obviously a lot depends on spring training and various things, but I bet they find a place for Diaz. And the fact that they dealt Josh VanMeter to get Torrens probably means there’s a good shot he sticks. That leaves Cordoba as the biggest question.