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Mets 2017 Rule 5 Draft Preview: Starting Pitchers

There are numerous intriguing pitchers available in the Rule 5 Draft.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets
The gold standard when it comes to Rule 5 Draft pitching selections.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Rule 5 Draft began as a means to prevent teams from stockpiling players in their minor league systems. For $100,000, a team may select a player that has been left exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. In order to avoid exposing a player, a team must add to its 40-man roster players signed at age 18 or younger that have five seasons of minor league experience, or players that were signed at age 19 or beyond with four years of minor league experience. For the 2018 Rule 5 Draft, this means players that were signed at age 18 or younger in 2013, or players that were signed at age 19 or older in 2014.

The 2017 Rule 5 Draft will take place on Thursday, December 14. Draft order is based on reverse order of 2017 standings, so thanks to a 70-92 record, the Mets will be making the 6th selection. Players selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft must be kept on a team's major league roster for all of the 2018 season or be offered back to the original club for $50,000.

RHP Jeff Brigham (Miami Marlins)

Jeff Brigham underwent Tommy John surgery during his sophomore years at the University of Washington, but that didn’t stop the Los Angeles Dodgers from drafting him, selecting him with their fourth round pick in the 2014 Draft. He spent very little time in their system, as he was included in three-team trade between the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, and Miami Marlins at the 2015 trade deadline and was sent to Miami. He has been up-and-down in their system, but the 25-year-old is coming off of a successful 2017 season- though it began in June due to a shoulder injury sustained during the Arizona Fall League.

Brigham’s biggest strength is his fastball, which sits in the mid-to-high 90s with late arm-side run. He complements his fastball with an above-average slider that sits in the low-80s with sharp break. He also throws a changeup that he has shown a feel for, but lags well behind his other pitches. Thanks to a stiff delivery and a pair of pitches that have a lot of movement to them, Brigham has demonstrated below-average control over his relatively brief minor league career.

RHP Trevor Clifton (Chicago Cubs)

Drafted out of Heritage High School as a very raw thrower in the twelfth round of the 2013 Draft, Trevor Clifton has come far in his baseball development, going as far as being named Carolina League Pitcher of the Year and Chicago Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors in 2016. Promoted to Double-A in 2017, the 22-year-old started out the season strong, but struggled in the second half, to the point that the Tennessee Smokies had him end his season prematurely, in mid-August.

Bigger and heavier than his listed height and weight, Clifton sits in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball, occasionally touching the high 90s. He complements it with an above-average curveball and an average changeup, giving him three potential big league pitches. His delivery is still high effort despite having toned it down earlier in his career, which has contributed to his fringy command.

RHP Sam Coonrod (San Francisco Giants)

Drafted out of Southern Illinois University in the fifth round of the 2014 Draft by the San Francisco Giants, Sam Coonrod has enjoyed success at virtually every level of the Giants’ minor league system. Moving through their system rather quickly, he made his Double-A debut in 2016 and fared well with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, but took a step backwards in the 2017 season in his second stint there. He eventually needed Tommy John surgery, which he will likely miss all of 2018 recovering from. In order to comply with Rule 5 requirements, Coonrod would only have to be carrier for 90 days on the MLB roster between 2018 and 2019.

Coonrod’s repertoire includes two fastballs, a four-seamer that can hit the mid-to-high and a two-seam fastball that sits in the low-90s with generous sink. He complements them with an above-average low-to-mid 80s slider with sharp, downward break and a below-average changeup sitting in the high-70s with very little tumble and fade. Despite two above-average pitches, the right-hander is not much of a strikeout pitcher, instead generally pitching to contact to generate ground balls and weak contact.

LHP Jordan Guerrero (Chicago White Sox)

Signed out of high school, Guerrero had his baseball development delayed thanks to shoulder issues during his first two professional seasons. Finally healthy, he broke out in 2015, splitting time at Low- and High-A. In 2016, he was promoted to Double-A, but struggled. He repeated the level in 2017, and on the surface struggled, but much improved peripherals suggest improvement.

Throwing from the left side, Guerrero’s changeup is his best pitch, a potential plus offering that shows excellent fade and comes out of his hand with the same arm speed as his fastball. His fastball sits around 90 MPH, which is average for a southpaw, though he occasionally can hit the mid-90s. He commands the ball well, able to hit all quadrants of the strike zone, and can cut and sink it. He rounds out his repertoire with a curveball and a slurvy slider, but both are below-average pitches that need more refining, with the curve sitting ahead of the slider

LHP Rob Kaminsky (Cleveland Indians)

Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals with their first selection in the 2013 Draft, Rob Kaminsky looked like a star in the making. Ranked one of the best prospects in their minor league system, he was used as a trade chip to acquire at the 2015 trade deadline. The southpaw has had a rocky tenure with his new organization, and has struggled to live up to expectations. A balky back affected him negatively at the beginning of the 2016 season, but he recovered, and after some mechanical fine-tuning, had a solid second half. In 2017, he missed virtually the entire season due to soreness in his left forearm.

When he is healthy, Kaminsky’s fastball sits 89-91, which is roughly average for a left-hander. It gets decent movement thanks to his crossbody delivery. His curveball, which was a devastating 12-6 offering when he was drafted, has morphed into more of a slurvy 11-5 pitch, but is still considered an above-average pitch. Rounding out his repertoire is a changeup, which he has developed into a slightly below-average offering that flashes being average. While Kaminsky does not strike many out, he is a ground ball machine, with a 50%+ ground ball rate for his career, and almost a 2:1 ground ball to fly ball ratio.

RHP Brad Keller (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Drafted by the Diamondbacks in the eighth round of the 2013 Draft, Brad Keller got his professional career off to a slow start, but hit his stride in 2015 for the Kane County Cougers, Arizona’s Low-A affiliate. He was promoted to High-A in 2016 and Double-A in 2017, but had growing pains.

The 6’5” right-hander throws his low-90s fastball with downward plane, giving the pitch great sink and generating plenty of ground balls. His slider and changeup both have the potential to be above-averages pitches, giving him the chance to have two legitimate secondary pitches to supplement his fastball. Keller’s control took a step back in 2017, and the big 22-year-old could stand to improve not only throwing his stuff in the zone, but working outside the zone with purpose to set up hitters and induce weak contact.

RHP Casey Meisner (Oakland Athletics)

Originally drafted by the Mets in the third round of the 2013 Draft, the big 6’7” right-hander had so-so success and was generally regarded more for his projection rather than his results before being traded in 2015 to Oakland in exchange for Tyler Clippard. Meisner has had a rocky, up-and-down tenure with Oakland since then, but he’s still only 22 and has still looks to have Major League Baseball-caliber upside of some kind. The Oakland front office had Meisner alter his pitching mechanics, resulting in his velocity backing up, his control being hindered, and general ineffectiveness. After a second full season in the organization, the changes began clicking for Meisner and the right-hander began seeing progress.

When Meisner was with the Mets, his fastball sat in the low-90s, with two below-average secondary offerings, a curveball and a changeup. Since then, his fastball velocity has more-or-less stayed the same, sitting 92-95 MPH, while his secondary pitches have developed. His slider and curveball were functionally the same pitch, but are now two distinct pitches, with the former harder and the latter loopier. His changeup remains his best pitch, sitting in the high-70s with late drop.

LHP Angel Perdomo (Toronto Blue Jays)

When the Toronto Blue Jays signed Angel Perdomo back in 2011, he was a raw thrower with a live arm. The southpaw was given plenty of time to develop as a pitcher, spending two years in the DSL, a year in the GCL, and a half-year in the Appalachian and Northwest Leagues. When he made his full-season ball debut in 2016, the big left-hander came out guns blazing, getting named to the MLB Futures Game and the Midwest League All-Star Game. Promoted to High-A in 2017, the 6’6” 23-year-old was not able to follow up on his breakout season, struggling with walks and home runs before having his season end prematurely in early July due to an undisclosed injury.

Perdomo’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, above-average velocity for a left-hander. When his mechanics get jumbled due to his big size, he has below average command of the pitch, but when everything is right, he can throw it to all four quadrants of the zone. Thanks to the length of his arms, the pitch gives the illusion of getting on hitters faster. Due to his crossbody delivery thrown from a 3/4 arm slot, the pitch gets arm-side run and downward plane. The big southpaw complements his fastball with a slider and a changeup, the latter of which is the better of the two. His slider, which sits in the low-to-mid 80s, has 2-8 shape and spashes late bite, but often flattens out. His changeup, which averages around 80 MPH, has excellent fade and tumble when it is thrown properly, but the lefty often slows down his arm to guide it, rather than throwing it with the same speed as his fastball.

RHP Kohl Stewart (Minnesota Twins)

Drafted fourth overall in the 2013 Draft, the Minnesota Twins had hoped that Kohl Stewart would develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter. Ranked among the best prospects in Major League Baseball in 2014 and 2015, his decreasing strikeout rate and increasing walk rate has raised questions as to whether or not he would be able to pitch effectively as he moved up the minor league ladder, but Stewart has enjoyed solid results, though his numbers have certainly not been flashy. Injuries have slowed Stewart’s baseball maturation, including a knee injury that caused him to miss time this past season, but the right-hander still flashes plus stuff.

Stewart has a fully developed starting pitcher’s arsenal. His four-seam fastball sits in the low-90s and touches 95 MPH with some cut to it. His two-seam fastball sits in the low-90s and has plus sink, resulting in his above-average ground ball rate, though it has so much run that Stewart sometimes has trouble commanding it. His slider flashes above-average, while his loopy 12-6 curveball and changeup both lag behind, though they flash being average offerings at times.