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Rule 5 Draft Recap

on 12/16/2002


Doug Melvin made a couple of gutsy picks in the major league phase of the 2002 Rule 5 Draft, selecting two players (Enrique Cruz and Matt Ford) who most recently played in the Florida State League (High A ball). This draft contrasts highly with Dean Taylor's draft last year, in which two more polished players, Jorge Sosa and Ryan Christenson, where plucked from Seattle and Arizona, respectively. Jorge Sosa was exposed to waivers and was claimed by Tampa Bay, pitching in the bullpen and in the starting rotation. Ryan Christenson was offered back to Arizona, who declined, and ended up splitting time between Indianapolis and Milwaukee.

Just as last year, no other teams decided to draft any unprotected players from the Brewers, reflecting the fact that the upper levels of the Brewers' minor league system has been barren for quite a while. Roberto Giron, who has pitched well for the organization for some time, was thought to be the most likely to be selected, but safely made it through the draft. As more and more of the talent that Dean Taylor began building ripples up through the system, the more likely it will be that the Rule 5 Draft will have a negative impact on the club. Cleveland and Pittsburgh felt the pinch of the draft this year, each losing 4 players in the first two rounds.

With the Brewers honestly being at least a couple of years away from contention, it appears that Doug may be trying to catch lightning in a bottle with players that might be able to fit a niche role for the major league club, while trying to develop them as possible starters at positions where the club isn't very deep in the minors (3B and LHP). If the Brewers can't keep Cruz and Ford on the roster all year, they need to be offered back to the orignal clubs at half the $50,000 draft selection price.

Enrique Cruz
The numbers:

2002 (St Lucie) .291 467 136 6 45 69 36 38 74 .336 .383
2001 (Capital City) .251 438 110 9 59 60 33 59 106 .346 .368
2000 (Capital City) .185 157 29 1 12 19 1 25 44 .299 .280
2000 (Kingsport) .251 223 56 9 39 35 19 26 56 .335 .435
1999 (Gulfport) .306 183 56 4 24 34 0 28 41 .399 .470

The breakdown:

Cruz is still raw, and like another raw prospect, Cristian Guerrero, needs to grow into his frame to achieve his potential. He's got a chance to be a 5-tool player, and can play 3B, SS, and 2B. He wasn't projected to be in the majors until 2005, so Enrique will either have to play above his years in spring training, or prove his value as a pinch runner (ala Greg Martinez) to break camp with the club. It's possible that Doug Melvin may option him to AAA in 2004 if he can eek out 2003 on the 25-man roster so that he gets some regular playing time.

Matt Ford
The numbers:

2002 (Dunedin - A+) 9 5 2.37 114 100 42 85
2001 (Dunedin - A+) 2 7 5.85 60 67 37 48
2001 (Charleston - A) 4 4 2.42 71 62 22 69
2000 (Hagerstown - A) 5 3 3.87 84 81 36 86

The breakdown:

Nothing about Matt Ford's "stuff" screams special, but he's done nothing but achieve in the Blue Jays organization. His fastball only tops out at 92 mph and he's got a decent change-up, but what seems to make him effective is his ability to not make mistakes. He was drafted in the 3rd round in 1999 out of Taravella HS in Coral Springs, FL, and like Cruz, wasn't projected to break into the majors until 1995. His ceiling seems to be a #3 type pitcher, but perhaps Doug Melvin sees something special in him. He's reported to have a nice, fluid delivery and good command of his pitches. If the Brewers are serious about keeping him on the 25-man roster all year, it would seem likely that Ray King or Valerio De Los Santos would have to be moved to make room for another lefty in the pen. It's possible that new assistant GM Gord Ash's connection with the Toronto organization influenced the decision to draft Ford.

The Brewers were prevented from selected players who were Rangers property such as Jose Morban (selected by the Twins) and Rontrez Johnson (selected by the Athletics) due to an agreement in place which allowed the Brewers to name Butch Wynegar as hitting coach.

The minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft includes a AAA phase and a AA phase. Since most prospects are jockeyed to higher levels than they'd normally be playing at, the players who are obtained in these phases are usually selected just to round out rosters. 30-year-old David Manning was selected from the Texas Rangers and assigned to AAA Indianapolis. Manning was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 3rd round of the 1992 June Draft, and has pitched for the Rangers, Cubs, and Twins systems with a 4.38 ERA, mostly as a starter.

Outfielder Derry Hammond was drafted away from the Brewers by Los Angeles, and right-handed reliever Jack Krawczyk was lifted by Oakland.


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