The New York Mets made two selections in the Minor League Rule 5 Draft on Wednesday, December 8th. The Major League portion of the draft can’t be completed until the Collective Bargaining negotiations are settled.
The Mets selected two right-handed pitchers: Alex Valverde and Carlos Ocampo.
Valverde came from the Rays organization, where he was drafted in the 22nd round in 2017. In 2021, he posted a 4.88 ERA, 3.51 FIP, and 1.31 WHIP in 72 innings in AA. He allowed 69 hits, 39 earned runs, 29 walks, and struck out 92 batters, good for an 11.5 K/9. The 25-year-old is known for his sweeping slider, which can make batters look silly when he commands it.
Ocampo comes from the Cubs, where he was signed as an international free agent in 2016. The 23-year-old spent the year in A ball and had a 5.85 ERA, 4.25 FIP, and a 1.28 WHIP in 47.2 innings last season. He gave up 46 hits, 17 earned runs, 15 walks, and struck out 67 hitters. He’s another guy with a wipeout breaking ball that led to a stellar 12.65 K/9. Unlike Valverde’s sweeping slider, Ocampo has a sharp 12-6 curveball.
The Mets clearly came into this draft looking for strikeout pitchers. They got two guys who have the stuff to be successful big-league relievers if they can command their pitches. It’s also promising that both of their FIP’s were more than a run lower than their ERA’s.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Mets do in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 draft after a new CBA gets agreed upon. Their 40-man roster currently sits at 39, but they have some moves to make that could clear up some more spots.
Typically, players taken in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft don't have a clear path to the big leagues. With the right coaching and development, maybe they can surprise us.