The Reds made one of the best Rule 5 Draft picks of all time. But please stop bringing it up. For one thing, the Josh Hamilton selection was exceptional for a number of reasons. That year, teams were required protect a narrower range of players in their system after the CBA increased by one year the time before players in both age groups become available. It's watered down the talent ever since.
In the current Rule 5, it's four years for guys are 19 and older when signed and five years those who signed at 18 or younger. Teams not only have a shorter list of quality players who get left off the 40-man, but they also enjoy another year to evaluate roster worthiness.
Last season, only 12 players were taken in the major league phase of the Draft. And even though Erik Komatsu annoyingly fouled off a lot of pitches against the Reds early in the season, these guys didn't make that much noise. A lot of them were injured - which may have been by design, since rule 5 draftees in the MLB phase have to sit on your active roster or else go through waivers and be offered back to their original team.
It's often overlooked, probably for good reason, that there are three phases to the Rule 5 draft. Teams mostly pluck minor league roster spot-fillers from the AAA and AA phases of the draft. That's what the Reds thought they were doing when they waited until the AAA phase to pick up Travis Mattair. But Mattair ended up having a nice year at Bakersfield.
There hasn't been much happening for the Reds since the Hamilton pick. Though that was a hell of a year:
2009: Douglas Salinas (AA Phase)
2008: David Patton (MLB Phase), Francisco Lizrraga (AAA Phase)
2007: Sergio Valenzuela (MLB Phase), Juan Apodaco (AAA Phase)
2006: Josh Hamilton (MLB Phase - via Cubs), Levi "Jared" Burton (MLB Phase), Francisco Mateo (AAA Phase), Nicholas Moran (AA Phase)
Reds who might be taken
Josh Fellhauer is getting some attention in these kinds of posts on other blogs. Mark Serrano, Theo Bowe and Tim Crabbe were also left unprotected. Beyond that, I don't think there's much that other teams will peck at - at least in the MLB phase. But I fully expect to find out about someone I didn't know existed being picked. His name would be Hunter Buck or Raul Mondesi's Son or The Real Sammy Sosa. Something like that.
One other footnote to this draft is that JC Sulbaran, who was sent to KC in the Broxton trade, was left unprotected by the Royals. The Reds could take him back as a goof.
Ryan Buchter, LHP, Atlanta
25 years old
Highest level: AAA (8.0 IP)
304.0 innings in the minors (7 seasons)
Drafted in 2005 out of high school by the Nats, Buchter is on his third organization and has yet to reach the bigs. Maybe teams just keep spelling his name "Butcher" on the "Keep these players in the organization" list. He can touch mid-90s with his fastball - as a lefty, that makes him immediately appealing. He struck out 25.2% of batters faced across two levels last season, including almost 33% of left-handed batters. And he can throw a curveball too.
Command has been his big problem. He got a touch of yips and walked 17 batters in 8 innings when he got to AAA Gwinnett last season. I'm sure he's not nearly that bad, but WYSIWYG at this point. It's not going to get much at age 25, having been a reliever for parts of 7 seasons in the minors.
If the Reds took Buchter, he would be the third pitcher they'd have plucked from the Braves' organization in less than a year.
Brian Moran, LHP, Seattle
24 years old
Highest level: AAA (37.0 IP)
225 innings in the minors (4 seasons)
Like this organization needs any more Morans. But if Walt "gets a brain" to sign this lefty, he'd find a decent second-fiddle to Sean Marshall. Moran has been a reliever for his entire pro career. He boasts a sleek and sexy 10.1 K/9 rate in the minors to go a walk rate of 2.9.
More importantly, for the Reds' purposes, he's struck out 31% of LHBs he's faced, though he tends to walk them more often than righties. He has a tricky wind-up to make up for pedestrian stuff. Maybe a Cingrani Extra Lite or lefty Todd Redmond. Also, his uncle is BJ Surhoff. That may seem irrelevant now, but just wait.
Rob Wort, RHP, Nationals
As the closer for the Nationals, Wort put up a Chapmanian K-rate of 15.1 batters per nine (41.7% of batters faced). The Potomac Nationals of the High-A Carolina league, that is. Of course, a lack of experience above A-ball didn't stop the Marlins from drafting Johan Santana. The question would be whether Wort could actually help a contending team out of the bullpen, rather than just hiding out.
Wort doesn't throw in the upper 90s, but like Moran, he's deceptive. A lack of conventionally overpowering stuff might be a red flag for his ability to jump straight to the majors. The Reds aren't really looking for a righty either. But Wort's strikeout numbers, which give him very few peers in the minors or majors, are hard to ignore.
Targets: Position players
Krauss is a native of Deshler, OH - which is in the middle of the Bowling Green/Defiance/Findlay Triangle of Power. He's also an Ohio U Bobcat. So he'd be a logical fit for the Reds or Indians. He didn't make it to AAA until August of 2012, but he hits left-handed and mashes righties. He's offense-minded LF/1B type in the Danny Dorn mold, which the Reds don't seem to dig.
24 years old
Highest level: AAA (40 PAs)
443 games in the minors (4 seasons)
Kelly is primarily a 3B and 2B, profiling as a super-utility guy in the majors. He's a switch-hitter who makes contact and doesn't strike out a lot. He's been compared to Daniel Descalso. It's an underwhelming comp, but having a player on your bench who can do a lot of things competently - and put the ball in play - for league minimum would be a considerable upgrade for the Reds over 2012.
MaruUZAK made some pleasant smooth jazz for the AA Trenton Thunder in 2012, hitting .274/.330/.456.. His ability to stick at short stop makes his batting line look a lot better. He has a good arm and some novelty appeal as an "eight-position utility player," with a trial run at catcher last season. Took a step back in plate discipline last season and he'd be essentially jumping from AA to the majors if drafted.
Conner Crumbliss, 2B, Athletics
25 years old
Highest level: AA (605 PAs)
453 games in the minors (4 seasons)
Crumbliss is the prototypical Billy Bean OBP freak - a career .416 OBP across four minor league levels. He has decent speed and doesn't strike out a whole lot - under 16% so far as a pro. He's primarily been a 2B, though he can play the outfield and probably corner infield in a pinch. He's only 5'8'' and while he'd offer no power to a bench that needs it, his plate vision should play anywhere.
Ivan De Jesus, 2B/SS, Red Sox
25 years old
Highest level: MLB (80 PAs)
729 games in the minors (8 seasons)
De Jesus, whose father of the same name played for 7 major league teams, is a major-league ready, glove-first middle infielder. He's a good contact hitter who can take a walk, but his ability to get on base at the major league level will probably be driven by average. He'd probably be a cut above Emmanuel Burriss in the middle-infielder-backup role.
Josh Satin, IF, Mets
27 years old
Highest level: MLB (28 PAs)
580 games in the minors (5 seasons)
Satin has very good plate vision and some pop. He's hit at every level, but doesn't seem to have a position and has done some of his best work while a little old for his level. Depending on how his name is actually pronounced, having Pagan and Satin in the 2013 could be ripe for hilarity.
Weems is arguably one of the best defensive SS in the minors - and has a healthy 12.8% walk rate in the minors - but can't hit a lick. Even in the Pacific Coast League. He could work, however, as a slick-fielding SS back-up to Cozart, letting Didi keep playing full-time at Louisville until his late-season call-up.