Let’s check in on the players chosen in the 2018 Rule 5 draft …
On Active MLB Roster
Richie Martin, SS, Orioles (from Athletics): While most Rule 5 draftees have been shipped back to their original organizations or shelved on the injured list, Martin is sill grinding on the Orioles’ roster. It hasn’t been pretty, as Martin has struck out in 29.2% of his 240 plate appearances while maintaining an ice-cold 81.0 mph average exit velocity. He carries paltry .191/.249/.300 batting line and grades out as a distinct negative at shortstop. He has simply been one of the worst players in baseball. But the rebuilding O’s can take the pain and obviously feel it’s worth the while for the toolsy 24-year-old.
Brandon Brennan, RHP, Mariners (from Rockies): There have been some ups and downs over the course of the season. Brennan has a 55.4% ground-ball rate and has compiled 9.3 K/9 on a 13.7% swinging-strike rate. Unfortunately, he is also dishing out too many free passes (5.3 BB/9) and carries a 5.56 ERA. A strained shoulder offered a respite, but Brennan was activated from the injured list today. With the M’s continuing to churn through pitching to keep their staff afloat, it’s likely Brennan will be afforded further opportunity to establish himself in the majors.
Travis Bergen, LHP, Giants (from Blue Jays): The southpaw was mostly solid for the first month and a half of the season, getting knocked around twice for multiple runs but putting up zeroes in fifteen of his sixteen other appearances. Through 17 innings, he carried a 4.24 ERA with 15 strikeouts and seven walks. His 6.7% swinging-strike rate wasn’t exactly cause for excitement, and he’d have faced a tough path to keep his roster foothold over the ensuing months, but a shoulder injury put Bergen on ice. Now well into his rehab, where he owns a 3.63 ERA and 18:10 K/BB ratio in 17 1/3 innings, Bergen could be sent packing if the surprisingly competitive Giants don’t want to clear active and 40-man roster space when he’s ready.
Elvis Luciano, RHP, Blue Jays (from Royals): Still 19, Luciano has been completely overmatched in the bigs. In 27 2/3 innings over twenty appearances, he carries a 6.51 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 23 walks. But the Jays are committed to earning full rights over the live-armed youngster. Now that he’s on ice for an elbow strain, the roster pressures are eased. If Luciano makes it back this year, he’ll likely continue to see sparing action while running out the clock. If not, the team will simply need to put him on the active roster for at least 14 days in order to acquire his rights permanently. (To be kept, a player must be kept on the MLB roster for an entire season, with at least ninety days spent on the active roster. Luciano spent 76 days with the Jays this year before hitting the IL.)
Returned After Start Of Season
Kyle Dowdy, RHP, returned to Indians by Rangers (via Mets): The 26-year-old never found a groove in Texas, allowing more walks (18) than he generated strikeouts (17) in his 22 1/3 innings while pitching to a 7.25 ERA. He hasn’t thrown well in the minors, either, though most of his innings came in a rehab stint with the Rangers. We’ll see whether the Cleveland organization can help him unlock the talent that led to his initial selection.
Riley Ferrell, RHP, returned to Astros by Marlins: Not only did Ferrell endure the tumult of the Rule 5 process, but he failed even to get a single MLB appearance out of the whole affair. An ill-timed, late-spring injury cut off his chance at earning an Opening Day job and the Marlins decided against creating roster space after watching Ferrell’s rehab work. Now back in the Houston organization, he has thrown 7 1/3 solid frames in the upper minors, allowing just one earned run while recording nine strikeouts against four walks.
Reed Garrett, RHP, returned to Rangers by Tigers: It seemed Garrett had a real shot at staking out a bullpen role in Detroit, but he couldn’t keep his edge. Through 15 1/3 MLB innings, he was tagged for 14 earned runs and managed only an ugly 10:13 K/BB ratio. Things haven’t gone all that much better since Garrett landed back at Triple-A with the Rangers org. He’s sporting a 6.03 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings there.
Connor Joe, INF/OF, returned to Dodgers by Giants (via Reds): Soon to turn 27, Joe didn’t impress in a 16-plate appearance sample with San Francisco to hang onto his roster spot. But he’s turning in strong work at Triple-A now that he’s back with the Dodgers. Joe owns a .300/.427/.526 slash with 14 home runs and a healthy combination of sixty walks and 68 strikeouts.
Drew Jackson, INF, returned to Dodgers by Orioles (via Phillies): The 26-year-old barely got a look in the majors, striding to the plate four times but failing to record his first hit. Unfortunately, he has not followed up on a promising 2018 campaign now that he’s back in the Dodgers system. In 251 plate appearances at Triple-A, Jackson is slashing just .223/.328/.340.
Chris Ellis, RHP, returned to Cardinals by Royals (via Rangers): Ellis has gone backwards since going back to the St. Louis organization after just one MLB outing in Kansas City. He has been tagged for 7.49 earned runs per nine in 57 2/3 innings. Ellis’s walk total, 37, matches the number he gave out last year — in 132 2/3 frames.
Returned Before Start Of Season
Sam McWilliams, RHP, returned to Rays by Royals: The tall right-hander has taken his licks since being promoted to the hitter-friendly International League, but earned the bump up with a strong run at the Double-A level to begin the season back with the Tampa Bay organization (2.05 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 87 2/3 innings).
Jordan Romano, RHP, returned to Blue Jays by Rangers (via White Sox): As it turns out, Romano got his first look at the majors the old-fashioned way, via mid-season call-up. That only lasted four appearances, but Romano is now on the Toronto 40-man. He has struggled to deliver consistent results, but does have 58 strikeouts in 39 1/3 total innings between the majors and Triple-A.
Nick Green, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Green still hasn’t really found his footing since going back to the New York organization. After missing time with a shoulder injury, he has posted an ugly 7.91 ERA in 46 2/3 Double-A innings.
Drew Ferguson, OF, returned to Astros by Giants: Ferguson certainly earned his return trip to the Houston organization with a lowly showing in spring camp, but he has equally earned his keep since. Through 382 plate appearances at Triple-A, Ferguson is slashing .290/.398/.449 with nine long balls. If he’s not dealt or added to the 40-man roster over the offseason, he could again be a possible Rule 5 target.