The annual Rule 5 Draft was this past Wednesday and it was an unusual one. Due to the current MLB lockout, the Major League portion of the draft was unable to occur, but the Minor League phase went on as planned.
So what did the Diamondbacks do in this draft? Unfortunately, nothing. Their AAA roster was full at 38 players, so they were unable to make any picks. The spin here is that there are plenty of players the team believes in and wants to protect from another team. But there were plenty of players that were up for grabs from the Diamondbacks...
With the third pick in Wednesday's Draft, the Washington Nationals picked up Andrew Young. If you read my introduction article from a couple of weeks ago, you'll know that Andrew is one of my favorite players. If you're curious how he ended up in this draft, the Diamondbacks outrighted him to AA on the first. It's a shame that he's gone, but it's difficult for me to find where he would fit on this team if he were to stay. His role in 2021 was largely the product of happenstance due to the cavalcade of injuries that hit the team. With the bat in his hand, he carried a .209 / .298 / .484 slash line. This looks solid on the surface, but it's important to note that he had 45 strikeouts in his 104 plate appearances. He may have had a 107 OPS+ in 2021, making him slightly above league average, but it's difficult for me to overlook his plate discipline issues. In addition, his defense left a lot to be desired. He primarily played second base and held -10 defensive runs saved (DRS) at that position. An average fielder has a DRS of 0. And this was over just 138 innings at the position, far less than a full season. As such, one might think he's more suited to be a designated hitter if it were to be added to the National League in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement, but the Diamondbacks have other candidates with potential for a more immediate impact like Seth Beer. It's difficult for me to justify his place on the team when better options exist both at second base and designated hitter. Andrew is very clearly a great hitter waiting to be unlocked. We all wish him the best of luck in Washington!
The next Diamondbacks player that was selected was Outfielder Ben DeLuzio, who went to the St. Louis Cardinals with the 17th pick of the first round. DeLuzio started his 2021 in AAA where he played 48 games and held a nice .271 / .329 / .458 slash line. An excellent season, although DeLuzio is by no means a home run hitter, seeing as he only hit three in his time in Reno. It's also worth noting that the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate is in the Pacific Coast League, a very hitter-friendly league. In August, he was sent down to AA, where he slashed .302 / .368 / .419. He's also stolen a few bags in 2021, getting six stolen bases in AAA and ten in AA. The Cardinals got a great player here. He can play any outfield spot reasonably well, and he's shown that he can hit.
The final player the Diamondbacks lost was Pitcher Matt Brill, who is also off to Washington. He was picked up in round three. Brill has been a reliever since college. He's pitched well in Single-A but has struggled in AA. In 2021 at Amarillo, he had a 6.33 ERA and a 1.815 WHIP over 27 innings. In that same time, he also struck out 37 batters and walked 20. The strikeout upside is there and is likely the reason he was picked up by the Nationals. And who can blame them? He might be a tweak or two away from greatness.
So long, and thanks for all the hits!