And then there was one. Despite having fierce competition like Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy, Luis Hernandez, and Justin Turner when Spring Training began, Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus will officially be manning second base come April 1st against the Marlins. While the former Toronto Blue Jays infielder outplayed his competition during Spring, his starting title isn’t quite written in stone.
In fact, when the Mets released incumbent Luis Castillo and his $6 million contract, they weren’t specifically clearing the way for Emaus, but rather, anyone but Castillo. As General Manager Sandy Alderson stated, “I don’t think there’s any question that there’s some linkage between [Castillo’s] situation and a perception of the Mets that has existed to this point. […] At some point, you have to make an organizational decision that goes beyond just an ability to play or not play.” In other words, the Mets just wanted Castillo off the team, and whoever seemed like the best option at second base during Spring Training, would become the starter.
Emaus is no slouch, however. The right-handed hitter owns a career .276/.364/.426 line in the minors over four seasons, and posted a .397 OB, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 79 R, and 13 SB between Double-A and Triple-A in 2010. Unlike Daniel Murphy, arguably his main competitor, Emaus is a natural second baseman. Even though Emaus’ Rule 5 status actually helped his cause this Spring, it hardly solidifies his place on the roster for the season.
One has to think that if Emaus proves he isn’t ready to handle Major League-caliber pitcher, the Mets will move on without much regret. But if Emaus continues to display that the patient hitting approach he’s shown in the minors is for real–despite claiming, “I never once in my life gone to the plate looking to draw a walk and I never will”–the infielder, who turns 25 years-old today, might go down as one of the best Rule 5 picks in history.