The Rule Draft is almost upon us and the Astros will have the first pick. Tomorrow at 9am CST, the Astros will go on the clock with the first selection in the Rule 5 Draft. They will likely make two selections and hope to keep both players on the roster all season just as they did with their selections from last season in Rhiner Cruz and Marwin Gonzalez. Several good prospects are out there for the taking so it will be interesting who the Astros use their first selection on. To me, it seems to be between 1B/DH Jesus Aguilar of the Cleveland Indians organization and RHP Josh Fields of the Boston Red Sox organization.
The Rule 5 Draft is nothing to scoff at. Several legit major leaguers were once Rule 5 selections. Names like Roberto Clemente, Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton and Joakim Soria are just a few of the gems found in the Rule 5 Draft. Let’s take a look at some who could be Astros tomorrow.
Jesus Aguilar had a breakout 2011 season and a solid 2012 campaign. He was promoted to Double-A this past season where his bat continued to evolve. Somewhat like Astros prospect Jonathan Singleton, he still has quite a bit of power potential that he hasn’t fully tapped into. This could make him an interesting candidate for the Astros to select first overall in the draft tomorrow. He still needs to work on his strikeouts as he K’d 115 times this season. If selected, he would likely serve as a bat off the bench and/or DH for a team that is desperate for some offense. If I were selecting, he’d be my pick.
Josh Fields was a first round selection of the Mariners back in the 2008 Draft. A legit power pitcher, Fields has struggled mightily with walks since being drafted until this past season. Entering the 2o12 season, Fields had a horribly bad 6.24 walks per nine innings. This season he made strides in Boston’s organization lowering his walk per nine to 2.8 while striking out 12 per nine. He finished his 2012 season with a 2.01 ERA and 12 saves in 58.1 innings. I believe he will likely be the choice of the Astros with the first overall pick tomorrow. He also fits the mold of players Luhnow has targeted in trades in that, he’s a former first round pick that may need a change of scenery to turn around his career. It worked well in Boston and could be continuing in Houston.
One player I’ll be keeping my eye on for our second selection (as Luhnow has already stated that we will likely make two selections in the draft tomorrow) is Jon Keck, a hard throwing southpaw from the Kansas City Royals organization. Lefties are at a premium in this league and hard throwing lefties are a luxury. Keck’s fastball was clocked at 96 and routinely sat in the low to mid 90’s during the Arizona Fall League this year. His secondary pitches include a slider and a curve. His command hasn’t been good and he has a penchant for walking batters but this is a young lefty that could benefit from a bullpen role with established major leaguers and a former major leaguer (Doug Brocail) as his pitching coach.
Now that I’ve mentioned these three players as favorites of mine and went on the record saying I believe we will select Josh Fields, watch us take none of them. Either way, it should be a lot of fun to follow! The Rule 5 Draft will be broadcaster on MLB Network and MLB.com tomorrow at 9am CST. Be sure to tune in!