Riley Ferrell placed on waivers by Marlins, could return to Astros

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Riley Ferrell #70 of the Houston Astros poses for a portrait at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 21, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Riley Ferrell #70 of the Houston Astros poses for a portrait at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 21, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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The Astros lost reliever Riley Ferrell to the Rule 5 Draft, but he could be returning soon.

The Astros took a gamble by not placing minor league reliever Riley Ferrell on the 40-man roster last offseason, thus exposing him to the Rule 5 Draft. Sure enough, he was selected by the Marlins. However, the Marlins have now placed him on waivers, meaning if he’s not claimed by another team, he gets offered back to the Astros for half the price the Marlins paid to get him.

The Rule 5 Draft is essentially a way to prevent teams from stockpiling major league-ready talent in the minors. If an eligible player is not on his team’s 40-man roster, other teams could “draft” the player for $100,000. The catch is the selecting team must keep the player on its active roster all season or offer him back to the original team for $50,000.

Since the Marlins have placed him on waivers, other teams will have the opportunity to claim him before he gets offered back to the Astros. However, any team that claims him would also have to keep him on the major league roster all season or offer him back to the Astros.

Yet to Make Major League Debut

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Ferrell has not actually pitched for the Marlins this season, as he’s been on the injured list all year. He’s made a few rehab appearances for the team’s minor league affiliates, but evidently the Marlins decided not to give him a shot at the big league level.

He’s made a total of seven rehab appearances across three minor league levels this year, allowing just one run on three hits in 10.1 total innings. However, he’s struck out eight and walked six, which may be why the Marlins weren’t comfortable calling him up.

Ferrell was the Astros’ third round pick in the 2015 draft out of TCU and has worked exclusively as a reliever in his professional career. The team gave him an above-slot signing bonus of $1 million, and he was generally effective during his time in the Astros’ system.

The 2018 season saw him put up a 1.90 ERA in 21 appearances for Double-A Corpus Christi, though he walked 18 batters in 23.2 innings. He was hammered after his promotion to Triple-A, posting a 6.75 ERA in 28 appearances there while still exhibiting control issues.

Potential Future Closer

Ferrell is essentially a two-pitch reliever, offering a mid-90s fastball with late movement along with a power slider. His stuff has translated into high strikeout totals throughout his career, so his ceiling is certainly a reliable late-inning weapon.

This potential is enough to have him listed among teams’ top prospects. Ferrell was the Astros’ 17th-ranked prospect last season and is currently ranked 19th in the Marlins’ system. If he can harness his stuff and cut down on the free passes, he could find himself in a big league bullpen for a long time.

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For now the Astros will wait to see if another team claims him. If not, Ferrell could be pitching for Corpus Christi or Round Rock sometime next week.

***Statistics courtesy of MLB.com and MiLB.com***

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