With the 11th pick of the 2018 Rule 5 draft, the Mets selected RHP Kyle Dowdy from the Indians. The Mets also made two selections in the minor league portion of the draft, selecting outfielder Braxton Lee from the Marlins and catcher Mitch Ghelfi from the Angels. No Mets were taken in the draft.
Dowdy, 25, was acquired from Detroit along with Leonys Martin at the deadline last year. His results in Triple-A with the Tigers (4.47 ERA, 3.52 FIP in 54.1 IP) and at Double-A with the Indians (6.52 ERA, 5.05 FIP in 29.0 IP) are middling, but they don’t tell the whole story. Scouts reported that Dowdy’s velocity ticked up 5 MPH after being traded, and he was touching 99 during starts with Double-A Akron. He pairs that fastball with a solid curveball and a changeup.
In many respects, Dowdy is similar to the plethora of arms the Mets have acquired in recent years at the trade deadline (guys like Jacob Rhame, Bobby Wahl, Drew Smith, Jamie Callahan, etc.). The big difference for Dowdy is that he’s still starting, and that he features a better changeup than most of the fringe arms we just mentioned. While he’s most likely a reliever, these last two points give Dowdy a slightly better chance to stick, simply because he could possible step in as a starter or swing-man if needed.
The Mets will need to keep Dowdy on their roster for the entirety of the 2018 season if they want to retain his rights, so he figures to be part of the opening day bullpen. This is a good arm strength flier to gamble on, and a fine option for the 7th or 8th man in the opening day bullpen.
Lee, 25, is an outfielder in the Juan Pierre mode, with no power to speak of, blazing speed, and a left-handed approach based on opposite field contact and soft ground balls. Lee has also shown excellent plate discipline throughout his minor-league career, walking at a 9.5% clip or better at every level. The overall results in the high-minors have been ugly however, with Lee posting an 81 wRC+ in Double-A and a 61 wRC+ in Triple-A last season. Lee is a plus defender with a good arm, so he can play in any outfield spot. Ghelfi, meanwhile, is a 26-year-old, switch-hitting catcher who hasn’t played much over four seasons in the Brewers’ and Angels’ systems. He’s little more than organizational catching depth.
Since Lee and Ghelfi were selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft, the Mets now own their rights fully. Ghelfi is an extreme long shot to have a major league impact, but Lee could carve out a role as 5th outfielder with speed off the bench, or as a Terrance Gore-type dedicated base-stealer for the playoffs. For now, he’ll serve as high-minors outfield depth, an area the Mets are currently thin at.