Rule 5 Thoughts
It seemed coming in like there were a number of players who the Twins could lose, but by adding so many players to the 40-man roster in November the Twins were able to take most of the most susceptible players off the board. As a result, the Twins lost three players overall -- not a great number, but not terrible either.
The sole Twin taken in the Major League phase of the draft was 24-year-old Dominican Jose Lugo, a lefty reliever with a middling career ERA but excellent K-BB numbers -- last year he struck out 76 and walked just 33 in 69 innings, and he's consistently shown that those numbers are about what can be expected from him (at least at the minor league level). The Royals drafted Lugo and then sent him to the Mariners, so for the second year in a row the Mariners will have a Rule 5 draftee who needs to stick on the big league roster or be offered back to the Twins. Last year, you may recall, the Mariners unexpectedly took recent signee R.A. Dickey from the Twins, and when they couldn't find room for him on the big league roster they worked out a trade that netted the Twins catcher Jair Fernandez. I would expect something similar to happen again this year, since Lugo is seemingly nowhere near ready for the major leagues -- he spent last year in High A Ft. Myers, and it's an awfully big jump from there to the big show.
The Twins also lost two players in the AAA phase of the draft, meaning they won't be coming back. First up is righty reliever David Shinskie, a 24-year-old Pennsylvanian who has been in the organization since he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2003 draft. Shinskie's 2008 was limited by injury, but he had a very solid 2007 season (3.36 ERA in 64.1 innings).
Finally, infielder Juan Sanchez was also taken in the AAA phase, heading to the Brewers. Sanchez was initially signed as a free agent in 2004, but didn't get to the US until 2008, where he hit .314 in 137 AB's with the GCL Twins. While those are nice numbers, it's hard to feel the loss of a guy who wasn't that well known in the organization.
The Twins picked up two players yesterday as well. Jason Jones, a right-handed starter out of the Yankee organization, was first up. He was a fourth round draft pick back in 2004, and has risen fairly steadily through the organization. He's already 26, so it's getting to the time where he'll need to take the next step. He'll get that chance this spring with the Twins, where the word is he'll be thrown into the bullpen mix and given a chance to earn a spot on the big league roster. Jones is not completely unfamiliar with a relief role, but he's been used far more often as a starter to this point -- he has 104 starts against just 20 relief apperances. His K-BB numbers are excellent, although he's not an overpowering pitcher as evidenced by his K/9 numbers. At this point, I don't expect him to make the roster (so he may be on his way back to the Yankees at some point), but anything is possible if he has a solid spring and there are injuries or disappointments involving other players.
Finally, the Twins selected righty reliever Henry Arias from the Reds in the AAA phase of yesterday's draft. Picks below the major league phase rarely pan out to much, but remember that a couple of years ago the Twins selected Brian Buscher from the Giants at this level, and he's now spent some reasonable time in the big leagues. In other words, unexpected things can happen. Count me a bit underwhelmed by the soon-to-be 24-year-old Arias -- he has ok K-BB and K/9 numbers, but his ERA and WHIP have generally not been that great (although he spent the first part of last year in A-ball with the Royals and actually pitched reasonably well). Ultimately, there's just not enough information on Arias to know whether he's worth much. With a AAA phase rule 5 pick, though, there's not much to lose -- so I look forward to seeing how he performs once the season starts.