The Los Angeles Angels have important decisions to make as they enter the annual MLB Winter Meetings. New GM Perry Minasian has started strong; he completed a trade for shortstop Jose Iglesias then followed that with a trade for closer Raisel Iglesias. Still, there are a number of moves still left before the Angels can feel comfortable about their 2021 roster. The Angels draft options include a variety of pitching options to fill out the bullpen and a handful of catchers who could give them depth while Max Stassi recovers from offseason hip surgery. Surprisingly, the Angels did not add Packy Naughton, Oliver Ortega, or Jose Soriano to their 40-man roster, making each pitcher available during the Rule 5 Draft.
Thomas Burrows (ATL): First off, new GM Perry Minasian will know better than anyone if Burrows is worth the pick. Despite a rough introduction to Triple-A in 2019, the 26-year-old has an incredible minor league track record; a 2.96 ERA and 11.6 K/9 jumps off the page. And, as importantly, the Angels could use a lefty out of the pen.
Cody Sedlock (BAL): A first-round pick in 2016, Sedlock had an encouraging 2019 season. Yet, his 2.84 ERA over 95 innings speaks to one thing he hasn’t been able to do- pitch a full season. He turns 26 in June, so the Angels will be getting him as he enters his prime.
Dakota Mekkes (CHC): The 26-year-old Mekkes has a career ERA of 2.20 over 196 and one-third innings pitched in the minors. If he didn’t pitch so poorly in 2019, he probably wouldn’t be on this list. Yet, his 5.29 ERA in Triple-A led the Chicago Cubs to leave him off their 40-man roster.
Joel Kuhnel (CIN): The soon-to-be 26-year-old, Kuhnel has a career 3.24 ERA in the minors. He’s pitched 12 and two-thirds innings in the bigs though they weren’t very productive. He’s a guy who would fit squarely in a low-leverage role.
Addison Russ: (NYY): Another 26-year-old with excellent minor league numbers: 2.48 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 11.79 K/9.
Garrett Whitlock (NYY): Is he healthy? Whitlock had Tommy John surgery in July of 2019. While he’s far removed from the surgery, it can be difficult to draft someone who hasn’t been able to prove he’s healthy.
David Parkinson (PHI): Another solid lefty option, Parkinson pitched to the tune of a 4.08 ERA in Double-A in 2019. That raised his overall ERA all the way up to a solid 2.71 for his minor league career. He turns 25 in a week.
Brett Cumberland (BAL): The 25-year-old backstop has worked hard on his defense this offseason. Plus, he gets on base at a .376 career clip and there’s real pop in his bat. The question surrounding Cumberland is his ability to make contact.
Payton Henry (MIL): A bigger reach than Cumberland, Henry has yet to play above High A. He does profile as a much better defender, yet the 23-year old will have to cut way down on his strikeouts if he wants to ever be a starter. If the Angels draft someone like Henry, it will be more for the future than for 2021.
Raudy Read (WAS): Having made his Major League debut in 2017, Read has been around for a while. And though he isn’t likely to hit much he is somebody who can come in and get innings behind the plate if the Angels don’t find a better option in free agency.
In most cases, players selected during the Rule 5 Draft aren’t going to move the needle. Sure, Johan Santana was once a Rule 5 pick but he is about as far of an outlier as you can find. Usually, it doesn’t end well. Instead, the Angels can fill out their bullpen with one last, cheap piece or grab a catcher to hold them over while Stassi recovers. At most, the Angels spend $50,000 on a player who ends up not making the team. Even in the uncertain financial times, the MLB is going through, this is worth the gamble.
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