The San Diego Padres surprised many by selecting four total players in this years Rule-5 draft. A.J. Preller once again is thinking outside the box as the team will bring in four young players to compete and possibly make the Padres 25-man squad.
Jabari Blash, Luis Perdomo, Blake Smith and Josh Martin were all selected by the Friars and each must remain on the Padres 25-man roster for the whole season or be sent back to their respected teams. All four are currently on the teams 40-man roster and that in itself is an interesting move by the second year G.M. Preller.
The 40-man roster space on a major league team is limited. Odrisamer Despaigne and Rymer Liriano were both designated for assignment and later traded because of the limited space. The Padres had no problem dealing either player and actually got two decent arms in return. Jean Cosme and Trevor Seidenberger are prospects that could still develop. In fact Cosme is ranked as the Padres 30th best prospect at the moment.
Out of the four new Rule-5 Padres, Jabari Blash is the only position player. The tall, lanky outfielder swings a mighty bat and is an intriguing selection by the Padres. He hit 32 home runs last season between two stops in the Mariners minor leagues. The power he possesses is unreal and he has shown a decent eye at the plate (.369 on base percentage in minor league career) despite striking out more than his fair share. Blash will be an exciting player to watch and Padres fans are already forming fan clubs for the new outfielder.
The other three players are decent arms in different stages of their professional career. Perdomo has arguably the best stuff, but he hasn’t thrown above High A-Ball and has limited experience. He has also mostly started in his professional career. He went 6-12 last season at two different low minor league stops. He recorded a 3.98 ERA and struck out 118 batters in his 126 innings pitched. That was in 22 starts between A-Ball and High A-Ball.
Martin and Smith provide bullpen depth for the team and would need to have excellent springs to consider being kept. The right handed pitchers are both a lot closer to being major league ready than Perdomo, but their arsenals are still a work in progress.
At this point it seems like Blash will make the team. Of course not a single pitch has taken place in spring training. He has excited a lot around the Padres clubhouse and the Padres fans are also anticipating seeing him play. Blash would need to completely fall on his face in order to not make this team.
The writing seems to be on the wall that he will be given every opportunity to start. The surprising thing is the Padres have Hunter Renfroe almost major league ready. He is the clubs #3 prospect and like Blash has unbelievable power. With Matt Kemp situated in right field, it seems like a trade will be inevitable eventually for the Padres.
Out of the three pitchers it is very hard to say who has the edge. Like I stated, Perdomo has great stuff. His maturity will be in question and the fact he hasn’t even faced upper minor league batters yet in his career is a great concern.
Josh Martin has a big time arm and is still only 26. He pitched in Double-A last season for the Indians going 8-1 with a 3.07 ERA in 44 games and 67 innings pitched. He struck out 80 in those 67 innings and walked only 19 resulting in a very impressive 0.980 WHIP. He has strictly pitched out of the bullpen and seems like he will be ready for major league service very soon. The question is when and can the Padres afford to roll with him despite obvious growing pains he is going to have.
Blake Smith is an interesting case. He, out of the three pitchers has made it to the highest level having pitched in Triple-A last season. He was 1-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 24 games for the White Sox Triple-A team. His total record for the year was 2-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 44 games and 53 innings pitched. He struck out 64 batters and walked 27 resulting in a 1.358 WHIP. The most interesting thing about Smith is he was drafted as an outfielder and owns a .269 career average in the minors with 59 home runs. He has given up hitting and focused on pitching so he is naturally a work in progress. He is also 28 years old and does not have youth on his side at this point. He will need a lights out spring to make this team and out of the four he is the most likely to be sent back to his old team first.
Blash should make the team. I have a feeling about Perdomo that the Padres will try to sneak him in as the 25th guy on the roster. He can spot start every once in a while, but pitch mostly out of the bullpen in long relief. His arm is just too good to pass up on. He is also still only 22 and should have a bright future in the league. The Padres could very well hold on to him and Blash but that will be very difficult.
Josh Martin intrigues me. I am sure the Padres will have a long look at him. He has a power arm and has very good size ( 6 foot 5 inches). If he can prove he belongs in the major league, he could also make the team out of the spring. Any type of hiccup though and he will likely be sent packing as well. My prediction is Blash makes the team. Perdomo barely makes the team and the Padres negotiate a deal with the Indians for Martin’s rights and send him to the minor for more seasoning. The team could use the two open spots on the 40-man roster. Casey Janssen and Skip Schumaker have a great chance of making the team but each are on minor league deals and would need an opening on the 40-man roster for them. Anything can happen though. Certainly the Rule-5 guys will be a huge story line for the Padres this month. We will see what happens.