Tomorrow is the first day of the GM Winter Meetings in Florida. On Thursday, the GM’s will wrap up the Winter Meetings with the Rule 5 Draft. If you’re not familiar with the draft and how it works, take a look back at our Rule 5 primer. So, who are the players that may be available to the Padres in the middle of the 1st round? The Padres’ stated needs going into this off season were a left handed reliever and a left handed hitter. Now that the Padres traded for Seth Smith, they could possibly need a right handed reliever as well. It remains to be seen whether they got the left handed hitter they needed. Here are the prospects to keep an eye on at 6 am Pacific next Thursday.
Marcus Hatley (Cubs – RHP)
Now that there is an open spot in the Padres bullpen, Hatley could be a target if he drops far enough in the Rule 5 Draft. I don’t think that he will make it that long. Hatley is currently playing in Mexico and there is no doubt that his games have been seeing a lot more scouts in attendance since he was left unprotected by the Cubs. Hatley is a 6’5″ pitcher with as much power as you would expect someone his size to have. Control has always been a problem for him. Even while leading the Mexican League in saves, he still produced a 1.56 WHIP. Teams may be nervous about the lack of control but, a lot of times, the lure of good old fashioned heat can make you forget all of that.
Danny Burawa (Yankees – RHP)
Continuing the trend of hard throwing but wild potential relievers is Danny Burawa. The former 12th round pick out of St. John’s features a 95 mph fastball, a decent slider and a pretty good change up. Only one pitch is Major League ready, that being the fastball, but that doesn’t mean a team would not take a chance on him. Last year in AA, Burawa walked 42 out of 279 batters. His walk numbers and strikeout numbers went up last season. The strikeouts going up is what could have Burawa receiving a phone call on Thursday.
Darrell Ceciliani (Mets – OF)
This pick is not very likely but, I really didn’t want to fill up the entire list with pitchers. Ceciliani played at AA Binghamton all of last season and produced a .268/.322/.380 slash to go along with his 31 stolen bases. The reason Ceciliani is listed here is that he bats left handed. Had the Padres not traded for Seth Smith, Ceciliani could have fit in as pinch runner and occasional left handed pinch hitter. If someone in the outfield was to be traded with Seth Smith slotting in full time, there is still a chance of seeing Ceciliani in a Padres uniform. Not a big chance, though.
Fred Lewis (Yankees – LHP)
I’m gonna go ahead and cast my vote for Freddy Lewis here. This guy has not always featured the over powering fastball and size that gets you drafted in the Rule 5 Draft. What he does have is a fighter’s mentality and a left hand to throw baseballs with. His fastball has increased steadily and now tops out at 95 mph. He also has a slider and a changeup. Lewis most recently pitched in the Arizona Fall League. He threw 11 innings without giving up an earned run to go along with 10 strike outs. He has improved every season and this year improved in the off season as well. The knock on Lewis in the past has been his tendency to give up too many flyballs and home runs. Chances are that in Petco that tendency wouldn’t be as big of a concern.
Omar Luis (Yankees – LHP)
This one is a long shot but, the payoff for keeping Luis on the 25-man roster all season could be huge. The 21 year old Cuban had his original contract with the Yankees voided after his physical, but signed his second contract with the Yankees shortly after. This means that he is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft through a technicality. Luis was an All-Star at the 18U World Championships but only pitched briefly in the top level of Cuban baseball before escaping to Haiti. Luis didn’t show the tremendous control that saw the Yankees sign him for $2.5 million during his 2013 season in the Rookie League. Luis posted a 5.68 ERA, 1.863 WHIP to go along with 29 BB and 43 K in 31.2 IP. The 43 strikeouts in 31.2 innings pitched could get Luis some attention during the Rule 5 Draft. If a team was able to hide him on the roster all season, there is a very good chance that they end up with the next Aroldis Chapman and the Yankees will have taken care of the signing bonus.
There are plenty of options for the Padres to look at prior to Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft. There is no doubt that the trades and signings in the few days prior will go a long way towards determining where the Padres go during the draft. Hopefully every possible hole will be filled before the draft even commences. If the team is not completely satisfied with the look of things prior to Thursday, it’s good to know that there are some potential diamonds in the rough available.