The Rule 5 draft, which seems like every nerd's (wet) dream, is pretty dry in actuality. There's a ton of quick picks - ten seconds per, with half the teams passing from the get go - and a ton of frantic internet searches for Double-A middle infielders and Low-A pitchers. If you were to cover the event for all teams, you'd have to be a quick typist, or an encyclopedia.
Thankfully, only two or three names really mean much to the average Mets fan, and one in particular is deserving of some serious focus. The team selected the tenth player picked in the draft, Brad Emaus (about whom Sam wrote a bit earlier), from the Toronto Blue Jays. Looking at his minor league career, one thing becomes clear - he can take a walk. Last year at Double-A and Triple-A he walked 18.2% and 13.7% of the time, respectively.
It's the rest of his game that's a question mark.
His power - above average in 2010 - may have been inflated by parks. At least in Triple-A, where his .197 ISO looks enticing, he was playing in the PCL, the fifth-most hitter-friendly league in the minors. The average ISO there was .156. In the Eastern League, where he put up a more modest .162 ISO, the average ISO was .134. He was also old for his leagues, coming off of three years at Tulane. There's some power there, but it might play as "above-average" rather than "impressive."
Defense is a question, too. TotalZone had him as a positive in New Hampshire at Double-A, but a negative at Dunedin in High-A. Marc Hulet, prospect maven at FanGraphs.com, said that the Jays may have felt that "his defense is below average for second base and his offense is below average for third base." Perhaps this is part of the new regime's slight preference for offense over defense.
Kevin Goldstein, prospector emeritus at Baseball Prospectus, summed it up well when I asked about Emaus:
Emaus didn't make the Jays' protected roster because of a roster room issue most likely. He had a reputation at time of being a baseball rat - and at other times of not always giving 110%. I've heard various running times at first base when talking to scouts. He was much better this year, but his numbers at Triple-A were highly inflated because of the park. But you know what, he can play second, he can play third, hit a little - he has that kind of ceiling and should be close to it. His defense is fine, if anything at second base he's a little unathletic and not very rangy, but he makes the plays he should. He's a little like Josh Rodriguez, who was selected first by the Pirates - college guy from a big program - but Rodriguez is a little bit better. Of all the guys in the Rule 5 draft today, he's one of the ones I think could stick.
When it comes to Emaus sticking on the major league roster - a must if the Mets are to keep him - the question then becomes who he would best complement. Unfortunately, if the defense is a question mark, Daniel Murphy might not be the best mate. If the team wants to bring Ruben Tejada north with the major league team, and he can be a decent backup shortstop, the team could use all three to fill second and back up the infield.
In fact, that's the plan that makes the most sense - Murphy can back up first base and second, Emaus second and third, Tejada second and short. It allows the team to give extended looks to some young players while showing good enough defense at most positions. It means that the team doesn't have to decide on their year-long starter at second base after a short spring sample. It also doesn't leave much room for Luis Castillo, but perhaps that ship has sailed.
In any case, the first pick of the Rule 5 draft seems to jibe with the rest of the work by the new front office. So far, the emphasis has been on filling needs efficiently, and Emaus falls right in line. He'll be much cheaper than Jose Lopez, for example. The acquisitions so far may not be the high-ticket items that dance in the dreams of big-market fans, but perhaps they will get the job done.