Thursday, December 10, 2009

Steve Johnson and the Rule 5 Draft

Many hardcore O's fans got bad news this morning when the San Francisco Giants selected Bowie SP Steve Johnson in the Rule 5 draft.

Johnson was left unprotected, somewhat surprisingly, and not unsurprisingly a team selected him. When you look at the people who were protected (Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate, Rhyne Hughes, etc) it's a bit difficult to see how Johnson was not more valuable. It's a bummer.

The good news is that the Giants selected Johnson. Johnson will have a hard time sticking all year on that staff so the likelihood is good that he will be returned to Baltimore or the Giants will have to send something back in trade to keep him.

As reproted by MASN's Roch Kubatko, Andy Macphail believes that too:

"We knew it was a possibility," said Andy MacPhail, president of baseball operations. "The kid is clearly a prospect. I don't think there's any question about that. The question is going to be whether he can stick with the 25-man roster over the course of an entire season. There were 17 guys that were selected. The odds are maybe a quarter of them might stick, or they make a trade to keep them in the system."

Crawdaddy at Camden Depot is not concerned about Johnson's selection and thinks leaving him unprotected was a good move:

...Johnson is a fringe prospect. Do not get me wrong, he has some worth, but he has several things working against him. His main value is in his pitchability. He *knows* how to pitch, but the concern is that more polished hitters will tee off him. His pitches are not special and he has a horrific fly ball rate. These strongly suggest a pitcher who will be crushed at the Major League level. After spending less than half a season in AA, he just is not ready. A weak, but fair, comparison would be Garrett Olson. When you rely that much on pitching to the zone, you have to be flawless. Most guys just are not successful doing it.

Comments on Camden Chat and MASN range from mild annoyance to downright outrage. I'll count myself among the mildly annoyed. I'd much rather hold onto starting prospects than guys who project to be fringe relievers. You can always turn fringe starters into decent relievers (see Jim Johnson).

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