Quick survey of the Marlins’ Rule 5 picks
By Michael Jong
The Marlins made two Rule 5 draft selections, but neither player was selected in the major-league phase of the draft. The major league phase requires that teams keep the drafted player on the major league roster for an entire season before being allowed to use that player’s available options to shuttle him through the minor league system. Obviously, being required to keep a player in the majors for a whole year when he has not apparently shown enough to make it to the big leagues is a fairly hefty task, and drafting teams also have to pay a cost for making these selections. If a team cannot keep a player up that long, they have to return the player to his original team.
There are no such restrictions in the minor-league phase of the draft, and the Marlins used that to their advantage, selecting two players and welcoming them to their minor league system. Coming into the Marlins organization are first baseman Jaime Ortiz and right-hander Brent Allar. I have a few cursory thoughts on them.
Ortiz is a 22-year old first baseman formerly from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. If there is one bit of good news regarding Ortiz, it is that he is young, having been drafted out of high school in the 7th round of the 2006 draft. He has toiled in the minors for five seasons, and with good reason; he cannot seem to find his hitting stroke. After looking decent in a 2007 repeat stint in Rookie ball (.274/.333/.473, 110 wRC+), he had an awful 2008 season in Low-A (.217/.293/.393, 96 wRC+) and did not impress the following season when promoted to High-A either. He was demoted back down to Low-A in 2010, where he hit a more respectable .270/.317/.424 (105 wRC+), but he looks to continue to be a work at the plate. Ortiz’ profile at the Baseball Cube shows a guy with decent power but no discernable other tools, and his minor league stats so far support that report. As a corner outfielder (a position he supposedly can handle, despite never having played outfield in the minors), Ortiz would be bad, but as a first baseman his performance is inexcusable. He is still young, so the Marlins figured the $12.5K cost to acquire him was acceptable, but I doubt much will come of him in the future.
There isn’t much to be said about Allar either. He was drafted in the 14th round of the 2006 draft out of TCU at age 21, but he has not advanced very far since that time. When Allar has been on the field, he has flashed the ability to strike hitters out, having whiffed 21.8% of batters faced out of the pen in the last two years for the Baltimore Orioles’ Low-A affiliate. The problem is that he has hardly stayed on the field (only pitched 199 IP in five seasons in the minors, and only 56 1/3 IP before 2009), and when he has, he can’t seem to control his pitches (career 15.6% BB%, 15.0% in 2009-2010). He is already 25 years old and has not yet reached Double-A, which is a sure sign that he will remain organizational fodder for the Marlins.
Aside: How to title articles with a positive spin
You would think, with the nondescript description of these two players’ talents, that reporting on them would hardly be interesting. Indeed, the Marlins got very little out of this year’s Rule 5 draft, and yet this was the title to the article describing the draft on MLB.com:
"Marlins go low risk, high reward in Rule 5 Draft"
Taking a quick look at those players shows very little “high-reward” possibility in either of them, but the titles on the official Marlins website always have to have a positive spin on them, hence the vague but promising-sounding title. The article itself completely ignores both players in terms of their statistics, likely because there is very little to say positively about either player. This is acceptable, except it does not give me any hope for a “high-reward” situation. In the end, it’s just spin to make the news sound somewhat newsworthy.