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Mets 2017 Rule 5 Draft Preview: Relief Pitchers

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

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets
Sean Gilmartin, the last player the Mets selected in the Rule 5 Draft, had a solid rookie season pitching out of the bullpen.
Photo by Al Bello/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 Nick Burdi (Minnesota)

A lights-out closer at Louisville, Minnesota drafted Nick Burdi in the second round of the 2014 Draft hoping that he would be a contributor to the Twins’ bullpen relative quickly. After a successful 2015 season that saw him reach Double-A, it looked like that would be the case. A bone bruise in his right elbow cost him virtually the entire 2016 season, and after getting off to a strong start in 2017, Burdi tore his UCL in May, requiring Tommy John surgery. In order to comply with Rule 5 requirements, Burdi would only have to be carrier for 90 days on the MLB roster between 2018 and 2019.

Fastball velocity runs in the Burdi family. Like his brother, Zack, Nick has a fastball that sits in the upper-90s and regularly touches triple digits. Far from a one-trick pony, Nick also throws a plus slider. The Twins were also having him develop a changeup to throw against left-handed hitters, but due to the amount of developmental time he will have missed once he finally gets back on the mound in mid-2018, the pitch is still in its fledgling stages and very raw. Burdi did not have the best control, and his command of his fastball and slider could sometimes get erratic, but with his stuff pre-Tommy John, he simply needed to be near the strike zone.

LHP Nestor Cortes (New York Yankees)

An unheralded selection in the 2013 Draft, picked in the thirty-sixth round by the Yankees, Nestor Cortes has had nothing but success as he climbed through their minor league system. In 2015, his dominance in the Appalachian League got people talking, and in 2016, he enjoyed a breakout season that saw him dominate the South Atlantic League, have a lot of success in the Florida State League, and make cameo appearances in Double- and Triple-A. The southpaw split the 2017 season with the Trenton Thunder and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, and was characteristically good once again.

Listed graciously at 5’11”, 190 lbs., Cortes’ fastball sits in the upper-80s to low-90s, topping out at 93 MPH. His changeup sits in the mid-70s, and the left-hander does a good job of mirroring his fastball arm action when throwing it, resulting in the majority of his swing-and-misses. He supplements his fastball-changeup combo with a low-to-mid 70s curveball and an sweeping upper-70s slider to change batters’ planes and timing. The southpaw hides the ball well in his delivery, and is able to command all of his pitches in the strike zone and work out of it with intent. The left-hander has not shown any major platoon splits, though in 2017 he exhibited a reverse platoon split.

RHP Cale Coshow (New York Yankees)

Selected in the thirteenth round of the 2013 Draft, Coshow cuts an imposing figure on the mound at 6’5”, 250 lbs. After getting his career starter as a semi-successful starter, he was transitioned into the bullpen full-time in 2017.

Coshow has touched 100 MPH with his fastball, though he more regularly works in the mid-90s. The pitch, which is a two-seamer, has hard arm-side run and heavy downward sink, making it hard to square up on. He can also cut his fastball, giving it just enough movement to miss barrels and induce weak contact but not enough to miss bats and generate swing-and-misses. Despite all the movement on the pitch, Coshow generally has been able to command it well. In addition, he throws a slider and a changeup, but both are below-average offerings, the slider easy to identify out of the hand and without much movement and the changeup consistently firm and without command.

RHP Caleb Dirks (Atlanta Braves)

The Atlanta Braves originally drafted Dirks out of California Baptist University in the 15th round of the 2014 Draft but only retained his services for a few months, as he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in early 2015. The right-hander looked good in his new organization, and in 2016 was packaged with Philip Pfeifer and sent back to the Braves in exchange for Bud Norris and Cuban minor league outfielder Dian Toscano. All in all, in three years, Dirks leaped from Rookie ball to Triple-A, posting good numbers for all eight teams he donned a uniform for.

Caleb Dirks has average stuff, with a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s, a short, tight slider in the low 80s, and a fringy changeup, but all three pitchers play up thanks to his delivery. The right-hander hides the ball well, and throws off the timing of hitters thanks to deliberate hitches. He throws crossbody from a 3/4 arm slot, which imparts some additional movement to his pitches but sometimes has the added drawback of having a negative impact on his command.

RHP James Farris (Colorado Rockies)

Drafted by the Houston Astros in the fifteenth round of the 2013 Draft, James Farris elected to return to the University of Arizona. One year later, after his senior season, he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs with their ninth round selection and signed, though it was for a miniscule $3,000 signing bonus. After three strong years in the Cubs system, Farris was packaged with international bonus slot money and traded to the Colorado Rockies for Eddie Butler. A poor Arizona Fall League season after and up-and-down 2017 likely cost the reliever a spot on the Rockies’ 40-man roster.

Unlike most relievers, Farris doesn’t exactly have power stuff. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, and he has trouble commanding it. His changeup is his best pitch, graded as average by most scouts, and he also throws a curveball, though it’s a below-average offering.

RHP Anyelo Gomez (New York Yankees)

After signing late as a 19-year old, Gomez spent his first four seasons bouncing between levels the DSL and High-A. Gomez began the 2017 season assigned to the Charleston RiverDogs, the Yankees’ Low-A affiliate, and ended the season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, their Triple-A affiliate, spending time in High-A and Double-A in the in-between. Though he was never necessarily bad, the right-hander was especially good.

Gomez’ main pitching weapon is his fastball, which sits in the high-90s and occasionally touches triple-digits. Before the 2017 season, he was primarily a two-pitch pitcher, coupling his fastball with a very advanced changeup. The slider that he threw, which was more a get-me-over pitch than anything serious, has since developed into what looks like an average or better pitch, giving the 24-year-old three legitimate pitches to get batters out.

RHP Damien Magnifico (Los Angeles Angels)

Originally drafted by the Mets in the fifth round of the 2009 Draft, Damien Magnifico did not sign and instead enrolled in college. Three years later, he was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, again in the fifth round of the MLB Draft. He spent the first three years of his professional career as a starting pitcher with mixed results before moving to the bullpen in 2015. He made his MLB debut in late 2016, tossing three innings for the Brewers, but didn’t remain on the team for long, as they traded him to the Orioles for international bonus slot money in April 2017. A little less than a month later, he was traded to the Angels.

Magnifico’s primary weapon is his fastball. The pitch sits in the mid-to-high 90s and frequently touches triple digits, but features very little movement. He complements it with a hard slider that sits in the mid-80s and a below-average changeup. Throwing strikes has long been a problem for Magnifico, and while shifting to the bullpen has helped, he still walks far too many batters. For a pitcher with a fastball with as much velocity as his, Magnifico does not strike out many. However, he does generate a lot of ground balls and weak contact.

RHP Mason McCullough (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth round of the 2014 Draft, Mason McCullough doesn’t exactly fit the profile of what you’d expect a professional athlete to look like. Though plenty of ballplayers are 6’4”, 245 lbs., McCullough has more bad weight than most, carrying it in his stomach. Despite his appearance, the right-hander has become an excellent reliever, taking a big step forward in 2017 after treading water in his development as a professional baseball player.

McCullough’s fastball sits in the mid-to-high 90s, and it is thrown with extremely heavy sink- though, surprisingly, he does not possess a strong ground ball rate. He complements his bowling ball fastball with a slider that flashes above-average. Because his delivery is high effort, consistent control and command has been a struggle for the 24-year-old. For his career, McCullough has a 6.5 BB/9 rate- though, this is somewhat mitigated by his high strikeout rate and relatively low hits per nine rate.

RHP Adam Ravenelle (Detroit Tigers)

Adam Ravenelle had a mostly forgettable career at Vanderbilt- though he was given the honor of closing out their 2014 College World Series victory- but he parlayed what success he did have into a fourth round draft selection by the Detroit Tigers in the 2014 Draft. He has worked his way up their minor league system, reaching Double-A in 2017, though injury, ineffectiveness, and a combination of both have limited his success on the field.

His fastball is a plus pitch, sitting in the mid-to-high 90s and occasionally touching 100 MPH with good movement. His slider, which sits in the mid-80s, flashes plus thanks to the massive amount of movement it gets, owing to his arm slot. Throwing from a very low, almost sidearm arm slot, Ravenelle had a pronounced platoon split earlier in his career that made him very effective against right-handers but vulnerable to left-handers, but those splits have since mellowed over the last two seasons. His well-below average command, stemming from an inability to repeat his mechanics, is something he has yet to work out.

RHP Gerardo Reyes (San Diego Padres)

Born in Mexico, Gerardo Reyes attended high school in Texas but was passed over come draft time. He attended Galveston College, but was once again passed over by baseball teams during the annual amateur drafts. He eventually signed with the Tampa Bay Rays as an undrafted free agent in August 2013, but spent only a year there as he was included in the three-way mega-trade that sent Wil Myers to the Padres and Trea Turner to the Nationals. After missing his first year in the organization due to injury, Reyes had a bumpy 2016 but a solid 2017 season.

Generously listed at 5’11”, 160 lbs., Reyes utilizes a sidearm arm slot, lending his pitches deception and movement. What makes the undersized right-hander interesting is that he does not get by all on smoke and mirrors. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, touching as high as 97 MPH. Thanks to his sidearm delivery, the pitch gets an amazing amount of run. His delivery has also empowered his slider, giving it frisbee-like movement, though sometimes it flattens out and stay on one plane, sweeping across with little depth. While his delivery helps, it is also a double-edged sword at times. His mechanics can easily get out of whack, negatively impacting his command, and because he relies almost on all arm strength and very little trunk power, they may be predisposing him to arm and shoulder problems.