What do Roberto Clemente, Jose Bautista, George Bell, Bobby Bonilla, Josh Hamilton, Kelly Gruber, Darrell Evans, Evan Meek, Jeff Nelson, Scott Podsednik, Johan Santana, Joakim Soria, Dan Uggla, Shane Victorino, and Fernando Vina all have in common? Answer: they were all picked in the Rule 5 Draft. That means teams decided to leave these players unprotected (off the 40-man roster), and let them go for essentially nothing (a couple grand). While most Rule 5 picks are eventually returned to their original organizations since they don’t make their new team’s 25-man roster, there are players–like the one’s above–who make tremendous flashes and really burn their former teams for many, many years.
In all likelihood, critics will fault the New York Mets for letting hard-throwing pitcher, Elvin Ramirez, slip to the Washington Nationals. Ramirez has been throwing in the mid-upper 90’s, but his overall minor league stats have been underwhelming. Despite a solid 4.08 ERA and 7.57 K/IP, and somewhat respectable 1.45 WHIP, Ramirez also owns a dismal 4.78 BB/IP. There is no doubt hard-throwing 22/23 year-olds are nice commodities, but his terrible control outweighs his strikeout potential.
On the flip side, the Mets selected second/third baseman Brad Emaus from the Toronto Blue Jays. It certainly wasn’t a surprising pick since Mets Assistant General Manager, J.P. Riccardi, drafted Emaus back in 2007 when he was still the Blue Jays General Manager, however, that shouldn’t taint how savvy of a plucking it was. Emaus, who will be 25 on opening day, owns a career .276/.364/.426 line in the minors. That line might not be jaw-dropping for a third baseman, but keep in mind that second base is his more natural position.
In 2010, Emaus also got his first taste of Triple-A, and absolutely raked. Overall, Emaus posted a .290 BA, .397 OB, .476 SLG, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 79 R, and 13 SB. As good as those stats are, more importantly, Emaus took 81 walks, and struck-out just 69 times. Wait, does that mean he walked more than he struck-out? Yeah, it does. For those who want to scream “fluke,” save it–Emaus owns a career 212/220 BB/K (so just 8 more K’s than BB in his minor league career). Arguably the hardest skill to teach to any hitter–young or old–is patience, and this kid defines it. And in terms of defense, Emaus displays good range, sure hands, and an average arm–which is why second base, not third, should and will be his focus.
Considering Luis Castillo was already likely to get pushed out by Dan Murphy, there is a good chance Brad Emaus will now give both players a run for their money in Spring Training. And regardless of what baseball heads will say about Elvin Ramirez, how often does a second basemen with pop, patience, speed, and defense come along?