by Jared Webb
You can follow Jared on Twitter @webberoo11 where Jared dedicates "more brain bytes to the Astros re-construction effort than (he) does to breathing."
With the holiday season right around the corner, I find myself doing a lot of window shopping. What free agent am I getting this year? Maybe Jeff will get me a DH/1B in Mike Napoli, or maybe a 6'7" command/control pitcher like Brandon McCarthy.
Okay, so maybe our relationship isn't to that point yet, but maybe Mr. Lunhow will try to find me a great discount gift in the Rule 5 draft. I'm sure we all hope he will find the next Dan Uggla,Johan Santana, or maybe even Roberto Clemente.
Last year the Astros took Marwin Gonzalez (slick fielding, slap hitting utility infielder) and Rhiner Cruz (big armed reliever). The strategy for the Rule 5 Draft seems to be finding a stop gap for a position where the organization lacks depth.
This year there are a few names that stand out as more legitimate prospects who might not be quite ready for the show. Others are ready for the big leagues but may not be polished enough to be everyday players. The question that Jeff Lunhow will have to answer is do we stash a prospect with possible impact tools, or do we go for the spot filler. I'm going to list a few players who are worth considering for this years Rule 5 selection.
Aguilar is probably the most intriguing name available in this year's Rule 5 Draft. He was one of Cleveland's representatives for the 2102 Futures Game. He is a big, strong player standing at 6'3", weighing 257 pounds, and he boasts raw power to go with his size. He played at two levels this year and raked at both HiA and AA (.280/.372/.461). He also managed to hit 15 HR between the two levels while posting 115/58 strike out to walk numbers. Baseball America has Aguilar rated as the Indians #9 prospect (Cleveland isn't known for prospect depth), while Jonathan Mayo has him as #11.
Aguilar doesn't offer much defensively, but he could fit a future DH role nicely. The question the Astros have to ask is do we take Aguilar (an unfinished product) and stash him for future potential?
When you are able to claim the title "Best" anything in the Rangers' organization, then you should be proud. McGuiness was cited as having the best strike zone discipline in the Rangers' system in 2011. He was dethroned by Jurickson Profar in 2012. McGuiness spent this year in the AA Texas League (arguably the deepest prospect league) and put up good numbers for Frisco .268/.366/.474 while hitting 23 HR. He followed up that solid regular season by winning the AFL MVP (.283/.370/.467/4HR) in a fall league that was touted for a great batch of offensive prospects. McGuiness isn't a big guy at 6-1, 210 pounds, but he does pack some pop.
With the Rangers looking at other first base options, he could be the diamond-in-the-rough the Astros are looking for as this was his first season with 500 at bats. He could take over at 1B until Singleton is ready, or he could fill a DH role. McGuiness is also known to provide good defense at 1b. Another factor in play in the evaluation of McGuiness is what the Astros think of Brett Wallace.
To be honest if we grabbed this guy and he turned into something big. it would be a great get to rub in the Rangers face for years to come.
Editor's Note: McGuiness was a teammate of Asher Wojciechowski at the Citadel during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Nick could fit the Jeff Lunhow mold, as he is a command guy with a low 90's FB and a Sinker/Slider combo. I noticed during the trade season that Lunhow favored command, sinker/slider guys. Struck led his AA team(Tennessee) in strikeouts with 123 while walking only 44, and boasting a low 3.18 ERA. He took on a heavy workload, throwing 155 regular season innings, and continued refining his secondary stuff in the Arizona Fall League. His body size says he will be a back-end rotation pitcher or a reliever, but with his pitch combo he could do well at Minute Maid. He has put up good numbers in every season in the minors, and could have been overlooked due to his size.
This is a situation where we could take Struck from the Cubs as compensation for interviewing Jim Deshaies. I'm heavily in favor of punishing teams who have been our rivals.
Chaffe profiles as a reliever, and his stuff took a nice jump this year. His FB increase from a low 90's offering to a 94-96 pitch which is complemented by a power curve. He only threw 66 innings this year, but has AA and AAA experience. In 08/09, Chaffe was ranked the 21st best prospect in the Angels farm system.
One unique thing about Chaffe is that he boasts three different arm actions depending on which pitch he is throwing. This is another reason to see him as a reliever.
If the Astros are looking for pure stuff, Lara might be their guy. He has a 92-95 FB that jumps on hitters. He also has a two-seamer that jams up lefties. His curve and change flash plus, but he lacks consistency. Lara could be considered a Rhiner Cruz type pick. A guy who has a big arm and big stuff but needs to learn that good hitters can hit good pitches.
Lara hasn't pitched higher than HiA, but could be a player to stash. In 2011, he was ranked #21 in the rays prospect list.
James is a guy who definitely fits the Rule-5 mold. He is an incredibly toolsy OF who is still learning how to put it together. James could easily be picked up and used as a 4th OF and pinch-runner type. Jiwan has been able to pull in a few different honors in his time with the Phillies, such as Best Athlete, Best OF Defender, Fastest Base Runner, and Best OF Arm. He has been in the Phillies top 15 from 2009-2011, peaking at #7 in 2010 ahead of Domingo Santana. His bat normally wouldn't stick on a 25-man roster at this stage of his career. However, he could be stashed and used as a defender over a guy like Brandon Barnes who also might have trouble hitting major league pitching.
Additionally, James was a YouTube star for an amazing catch he made in 2012.
One thing the Astros do have an advantage on is the space to stash a guy and let him ride out the season. They might be in danger of losing a few prospects that fans have had their eyes on (Stoffel/Krauss/Zeid), but this is a risk reward game. It's hard to say who is the best choice, but I do think the Astros will take someone in the Rule 5 Draft this year. Hopefully, Jeff will put a lot of thought into what he gets me this year so that our relationship continues to blossom into something beautiful.
I'm not sure the Rule 5 Draft will have near the impact for fans as the Rule 4(June) Draft, but as fans of a rebuilding system we need to grab onto whatever we can. I, for one, will watch in anticipation hoping the name called will be someone who will make an impact for years to come.
My Choice- Jesus Aguilar
Reasoning-I think we stand a good chance of losing Mark Krauss. That being said I believe Aguilar has enough pop and plate discipline to be a valid replacement,
Smart Choice- Chris McGuiness
Reasoning-One thing we lack is guys who understand the strike zone. McGuiness may not have the raw power of Aguilar, but if he puts up a .330 OBP and hits 10-15 HR I will be pleased. Also McGuiness can offer a defensive upgrade at 1B if Wallace fails to hit.
c2012 Jared Webb. Used with permission.
c2012 Jared Webb. Used with permission.