Table of Contents

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Reds draft Valenzuela, Lose Guevara in Rule 5

The Reds effectively "traded" Carlos Guevara for Sergio Valenzuela in today's Rule 5 draft. Let's do a comparison.

What they got.

Sergio Valenzuela is a fairly big (6'3", 200 lbs) 23-year old right-hander who has bopped between starting and relief throughout his minor league career. He was signed as an undrafted free agent at in '01 by the Braves (he would have been ~17), but didn't appear in a game on US soil until 2004. Here are his most recent stats and minor league totals:
Year Age Team Lvl IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 GB% BABIP ERA FIP BsR/G
2005 20 ATL Rk 35.0 4.1 1.0 0.3 --- 0.294 3.60 3.17 3.0
2006 21 ATL Rk 51.0 5.1 3.2 0.9 --- 0.337 6.00 5.04 5.5
2007 22 ATL A/A+ 72.0 4.8 4.6 1.0 44% 0.385 7.00 5.63 7.7
MiTot --- ATL Rk-A+ 179.0 5.0 3.1 0.9 --- 0.340 5.58 4.79 5.6
Not particularly inspiring. Despite claims of having two plus pitches, Valenzuela's strikeout rates have been below-average (especially relative to those of prospects), while his walk rate is nothing special...and last year was a big part of his struggles. Hasn't given up a ton of homers, but I wouldn't call that a strength of his either. FIP tends to like him a bit more than his actual runs allowed rates (though I haven't standardized FIP in this case to these leagues, so that can be misleading), and BABIP behind him has been a tad high. But not enough to make the rest of his line look attractive.

Still, if the scouts see something in him, and think he can improve a great deal, it might be worth a shot getting him into the organization. Scouts have the ability to see things in players that I can't possibly hope to catch with my little bag if stat tricks. Even so, I'd be shocked if the Reds actually break camp with this guy on the roster--anyone posting a 5+ ERA without getting out of A ball is going to need more than one spring to make the adjustments necessary to get big league hitters out. He could do a lot of damage, even as a mop-up guy.

My guess is that they'll "find" a minor injury near the end of camp and get him on the 15-day disabled list, and then keep him demoted as long as they possibly can. And, if he hasn't shown progress by the time they have to bring him back onto the 25-man, they can just sell him back to the Braves. Or, do as Doug suggests and make a minor trade to retain him.

What did they lose?

Carlos Guevara
is a 25-year old right-handed reliever who was the Reds' 7th-round selection the 2003 amateur draft. While he's started 5 games in the minors, he's been used almost exclusively in relief since his arrival. And he's done nothing but produce. Recent stats:
Year Age Team Lvl IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 GB% BABIP ERA FIP R/G
2005 23 CIN A+ 50.7 11.5 2.5 0.4 --- 0.305 2.45 2.09 2.6
2006 24 CIN AA 77.0 10.4 3.2 0.7 --- 0.356 3.74 3.03 4.0
2007 25 CIN AA 62.0 12.6 3.3 0.6 40% 0.362 2.32 2.49 3.3
3yrTtl --- CIN A+-AA 189.7 11.4 3.0 0.6 --- 0.344 2.94 2.60 3.4
Guevara walks his share of guys, but his strikeout numbers have been phenomenal throughout his career. The knock on him, of course, is that he's a trick pitcher, and gets the majority of those strikeouts with his screwball...and that those might disappear when he faces better quality hitters. That, coupled with his relatively small stature (~5'11", 175 lbs), apparently allowed the Reds to feel ok not protecting him this season.

He was a bit old to be in AA last season, but his numbers suggest he'd earned an AAA promotion in '07. I suppose he could have been held down to make his numbers look more attractive to prospective teams...not that losing him via the Rule 5 draft helps the Reds very much, but I guess he could have made an attractive throw-in for a trade if that had come to pass.

Look, I don't know if the scouts are right about Guevara. But I sure would have liked to see him tested against AAA hitters last year to find out. At least we'll get a chance to see how he actually fares this spring. Part of me hopes that he gets rocked so that a) I don't have to feel annoyed by this move, and b) the Marlins opt to sell him back to the Reds.


The thing that's interesting about today's moves is that they show something about the Reds' heavy emphasis on scouting, at least with respect to evaluating younger players. Guevara's numbers look phenomenal, but scouts don't like him at all, so the Reds don't protect him. Valenzuela's numbers look terrible, but at least one scout, "J Harrison," thinks he's swell, so the Reds take him. It'll be interesting to see how these moves look a few years from now. The most likely scenario, of course, is that both pitchers will never amount to anything. But hey, maybe the Reds will score themselves a #5 starter with this move.

Update: Here's BPro's Kevin Goldstein on the Reds' pick. Umm...he doesn't much like it. FWIW, he's not high on Carlos Guevara either (see article).
6. Reds select RHP Sergio Valenzeula from the Braves. This pick is a joke right? Valenzuela pitched 72 innings this year, split between Atlanta’s Low- and High-A teams. In those 72 innings, he gave up 102 hits while nearly walking (37) as many as he struck out (38). Sure, he’s got plus velocity, but he’s not fooling teams that have maybe, maybe three or future big leaguers on them, so what makes you think he’s going to suddenly have any chance in hell of getting an entire lineup full of big leaguers out?
Chances To Stick: Seriously, they really took Sergio Valenzuela?