The Rule-5 Draft is a couple of weeks away, and this is a great chance for teams to pick players that other teams don't need on their 40-man roster. Players like Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana and Jose Bautista were once Rule-5 Draft picks.
This season, I've been going to the stadium to watch Winter Ball games quite often and one particular player caught my attention. I'm talking about left handed pitcher Joseph Ortiz who currently pitches for the Texas Rangers organization. The other day I was talking to John Manuel of Baseball America and we exchanged some thoughts about Ortiz and he he reminded me that Ortiz was eligible in the Rule-5 Draft and that he could get drafted by somebody looking for a lefty specialist.
Ortiz, only 22 years old, is enjoying a good season in Venezuela this winter. He's 0-2 with a 3.31 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.0 HR/9 and a 2.65 FIP in 16.1 innings pitched for his team. Also, lefties are 1-15 against him. He began the 2012 season with the Rangers' Double-A team and went 1-2 with 4 saves, a 2.35 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 and a 2.74 FIP in 30.2 innings. Then he pitched 32.0 innings at the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate and went 1-1 with 2 saves, a 1.97 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 0.8 BB/9, 1.7 HR/9 and a 4.48 FIP.
One team that might be looking for a lefty reliever and don't have the willingness of spending big in free agency are the Chicago Cubs. Their only lefty reliever on their active roster right now is James Russell who wasn't particularly effective against left handed hitter. In 27 innings lefties hit .260/.309/.417 with 3 HR's and a .317 wOBA against him. Lefties hit .251/.334/.422 with 67 HR's in 2,353 plate appearances against the Cubs throughout the 2012 season.
If the Cubs are in rebuilding mode, they could give Ortiz a shot, not only his numbers have been solid this year, but even though he's 5′7″ he looks like a Giant on the mound right now. Just the other day, he was brought into a game to face Jesus Flores, Ezequiel Carrera and Darwin Perez with two on and nobody out and he struck out the side without breaking a sweat.
Image by fireflythegreat under the Creative Commons License Agreement.