On the eve of the annual Rule 5 draft, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York broke the news that the Mets expect to lose pitcher Elvin Ramirez. Buster Olney followed that up with a tweet stating that Ramirez is “the guy widely expected to be the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft”. Well, that sucks…especially because Ramirez has been hitting anywhere between 94 and 98 MPH on the radar gun in the Dominican this winter.
Or does it? I’m not so sure. Yes, given the Mets’ current shortage of major league arms and surplus of open spots on the 40-man roster (35 going into the draft), failing to protect anyone who can top out at 98 MPH raises eyebrows. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll see that his BB/9 has steadily risen from 4.0 in 2008 to 4.8 in 2009 to 5.5 in 2010 while his SO/BB has remained in the 1.23 – 1.72 range. Ramirez had a nice season at Savannah in 2008, and that deserves notice. But he’s done little to distinguish himself since.
And even if he had, how many Rule 5 picks actually stick with the club that selected them? Looking back at last year’s draft, in which 17 players were selected, reveals the following: nine were offered back to their original clubs (eight clubs accepted and the Braves declined the rights to Edgar Osuna), three were involved in deals that allowed the selecting clubs to keep them in the minors, and four stuck at the major league level. Yes, that equals 16: Kanekoa Texiera was claimed off of waivers by the Royals. And yes, one of the four that stuck was Carlos Monasterios, who was selected by the Mets and traded to the Dodgers for cash. My overall point is the same: the majority of the players picked were returned to their original clubs.
Sure, Johan Santana, Joakim Soria, and Josh Hamilton were all Rule 5 draftees (to name a very select few). But so were Jared Camp (selected ahead of Santana) and Ryan Goleski (selected ahead of both Soria AND Hamilton). Both Camp and Goleski were the “first player selected in the Rule 5 draft”. Where are they now?
To make a long story short, don’t focus on Ramirez’ availability. The Mets may well lose him tomorrow. But if you add the track record of previous Rule 5 picks to Ramirez’ performance over the past three years, you’ll find that it might not be much of a loss at all. At the very least, it’s nothing to lose sleep over.