Pensacola Blue Wahoos pitcher Daniel Corcino was one of six players added to the Reds’ 40-man roster ahead of December’s Rule 5 Draft. While this story may be common knowledge to astute readers of Mark Sheldon, Rule 5 is a wholly uncommon process to the majority of baseball fans. With only a few days before the winter meetings, let’s take a look at the players Cincinnati has claimed and what’s at stake for the rest.
Daniel Corcino, RHP
(Pensacola: 8-8, 3.01 ERA)
Rated by Jonathan Mayo as the #4 prospect in the Reds organization and seventy-first best in baseball, Daniel Corcino emerged as one of the Southern League’s deadliest pitchers last year. Armed with a vicious fastball and consistent off-speed pitches, Corcino held the second-lowest earned run average while striking out 126 batters over twenty-six starts. He moved from the bullpen in 2010 and quickly racked up big numbers in Dayton over two seasons before jumping to Double-A Pensacola. Corcino holds the distinction of anchoring the team’s first no-hitter on June 16, fanning nine over eight innings en route to a victory. His 7.92 K/9 rate and stingy .216 opposing batting average are factors that most likely played into his protection and could land him in Louisville by the 2013 All-Star Break.
Yorman Rodriguez, CF
(Bakersfield: .156 AVG/0 HR/7 RBI
Dayton: .271 AVG/6 HR/44 RBI)
Nineteenth on Mayo’s organizational listing, Yorman Rodriguez shows promise but needs to adjust to a faster level of baseball after being hampered with injuries last year. He flirted with the California League but struggled at the plate, posting a .156 average across ninety at-bats before picking the pace back up in Dayton. Advertised by scouting director Chris Buckley as “the top position prospect in all of Latin America” in 2008, he posted stellar numbers two years later in Billings with a .339 clip including thirteen extra-base hits. Rodriguez has excellent awareness in the outfield and some good speed, racking up twenty-one doubles alongside eleven stolen bases between California and Ohio this season. Our FanSided site for minor-league news, Seedlings to Stars, ranked him as their #79 prospect last year and penned a comprehensive report which you can read here.
Curtis Partch, RHP
(Pensacola: 7-4, 4.73 ERA, 6 SV
Bakersfield: 0-0, 1.50 ERA, 2 SV)
First, a word on those stats. Curtis Partch began the year in Pensacola as a starting pitcher before being transferred to Bakersfield on April 23. When he left, he had given up eighteen runs in just under seventeen innings as a starter, and all but one was earned. With thirteen strikeouts but eleven walks, his earned run average was 9.18 after his final game in Pensacola. Since his switch to the bullpen in May, Partch has been lights-out; in addition to the often-mentioned record of 21.2 consecutive scoreless innings, his adjusted ERA for his second Double-A stint was a respectable 3.35 with a K/9 of 8.55. His career with the Reds spans six years, and after a successful adjustment to a relief role the executives are taking notice.
Partch strikes me as the best player taken ahead of Rule 5 — a statement I couldn’t have imagined saying in early April. In a private discussion, I recall one of the Blue Wahoos coaching staff referring to him as a chameleon: he was able to adapt quickly to a new situation and adjust to the opposing lineup. His hard work paid off with an invitation to the Arizona Fall League and the lofty distinction of Rising Star, and a strong showing to start the 2013 campaign may be enough to reach Triple-A Louisville.
Josh Ravin, RHP
(Bakersfield: 0-0, 6.00 ERA
Pensacola: 1-3, 5.25 ERA)
Sometimes being “plagued” with injuries means that they occur at a high rate over time, and other times it could be literally infectious. After being placed on Pensacola’s disabled list on April 10, he suffered another injury a few weeks later in the middle of the Pensacola International Airport. Yes, less than ten miles away from the ballpark, fresh off a full recovery from his first injury, Josh Ravin had sustained another ailment. Though we didn’t see much, Ravin powered through twenty games in relief before making up for lost time in the AFL. Cincinnati has a lot invested in Ravin, drafting him in 2006 and taking their time in developing his blazing fastball through six levels of affiliated ball, and perhaps see some short-term potential on the horizon as he continues to mature.
Carlos Contreras, RHP
(Dayton: 0-1, 3.20 ERA, 16 SV
Bakersfield: 1-0, 2.70 ERA, 4 SV)
The 21-year-old Contreras led all pitchers in the Reds farm system with twenty saves in 2012, establishing himself as Dayton’s dominant closer before his promotion in August. Signing with the Reds prior to the 2008 season, he has steadily improved his strikeout numbers while yielding fewer walks and earned runs. After an impressive showing in Single-A Bakersfield, it’s likely that Contreras permanently joins the Blaze bullpen early next season.
Ismael Guillon, LHP
(Billings: 4-1, 2.29 ERA
Dayton: 2-0, 2.55 ERA)
Guillon tore up the Pioneer League circuit to begin the season, leading the Mustangs with sixty-three strikeouts and fourth-lowest WHIP among starters (1.24). Earning a post-season all-star spot, he was promoted to Dayton in mid-August and quickly hit his stride, finishing his season with a nine-strikeout victory on September 3. While the honor may be somewhat premature, it’s a definite sign that Cincinnati likes what they’re seeing and want to keep him around for the next few years. Don’t be surprised if Guillon winds up on the Dragons’ Opening Day roster.
Now to Rule 5. Since all of the above players hold a spot on the 40-man roster, they are considered protected and cannot be selected in the draft. Consider it another way of saying, “We really want to keep this prospect, at least for a while.” This doesn’t mean any other player in the farm system is fair game, though. From MLB:
Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years.
Now that we know this isn’t a minor-league free-for-all, it’s time to scour the rosters and see which players are at risk in a potential trade. I crunched the numbers so you didn’t have to, and the Reds officially have twenty-one players (plus or minus two) that fit the bill: three in Louisville, seven in Pensacola, seven in Bakersfield, four in Dayton, and none in Billings. No players from the AZL or DSL Reds were included in that tally since the majority were born in 1990 or earlier and other teams aren’t necessarily starting their searches in summer leagues. While some solid players are mixed within that twenty-one figure, only a handful (if that) are ranked in Mayo’s Top 20. The real obstacle comes next year when fan favorite Billy Hamilton becomes eligible for Rule 5. The Reds need to make “The Decision” sometime in 2013 and will likely move him up in some fashion in order to keep their model prospect on board.
As to what moves the Reds will make in Nashville, keep coming back to BRM through the next few weeks to see who’s going where. Until then, you can rest assured that these six promising prospects will stay put for some time.