The Cincinnati Reds have selected outfielder Jake Cave from the New York Yankees in the first round of the Rule 5 draft. In the second round the team selected left handed reliever Chris O’Grady.
Jake Cave is a 6′ 0″ and 200 lbs outfielder who spent most of his 2015 season in Double-A. He spent a week in Triple-A. Overall he would hit .278/.339/.359 on the season with 46 walks and 106 strikeouts. He’s shown big time splits in his career. In 2015 he hit .304/.366/.402 against right handed pitching with 38 walks and 66 strikeouts over 455 plate appearances. He’s able to play all three outfield spots and has a little bit of speed.
Chris O’Grady is a 25-year-old reliever who spent his season pitching mostly in Double-A, but saw some Triple-A action as well. In 57.2 innings he posted a 3.28 ERA in hitter friendly leagues. He allowed six home runs, walked fourteen batters and struck out 57. He was successful against hitters from both sides of the plate, actually pitching better against right handers than lefties.
The selection of Jake Cave is an interesting one. He looks like a platoon outfielder without any power to speak of. He has hit 11 home runs over the last three seasons in 379 games played. He can run a little bit and can handle center field, but he just sounds like a guy that can be had in every offseason in minor league free agency. Cave will have to stick to the big league roster all season long, while a free agent could hang out in the minor leagues. There doesn’t seem to be much upside at all with Cave. He’s looking like a possible 5th outfielder.
Chris O’Grady pitched in the Arizona Fall League in 2014, so we have a limited amount of PitchF/X data on him. He averaged 88 MPH with his fastball in November of 2014. He was also showing a change up in the low 80’s, a slider in the mid-to-upper 70’s and a cutter in the low 80’s. He seems to throw strikes and he’s missed bats in the upper levels, though his strikeout rate is much better against lefties (29% to 21%).
I’d be more surprised to see Jake Cave make the big league roster out of the spring than Chris O’Grady. Both will have a lot of competition for their spots on the roster, but it’s easier to stash a reliever than it is an outfielder. With that said, it wouldn’t surprise me if both wound up heading back to their original teams. The outfield and bullpen are both full of so many different options that any sort of question could leave them on the outside looking in.
In the minor league phases of the draft the Reds picked RHP Ariel Hernandez. He originally signed out of the Dominican Republic with the Giants in 2008. He never made it out of rookie ball with them, being released after the 2013 season. He didn’t play in 2014 and played independent ball in 2015 before being picked up by the Diamondbacks. The 23-year-old pitched in shortseason ball with Hillsboro where he posted a 6.04 ERA in 22.1 innings with 21 walks and 32 strikeouts. He’s got a big time arm, throwing in the upper 90’s, but he’s got no clue where it’s going. Outside of his 1st season in the minors, as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League, he’s walked more batters (94) than innings pitched (88.1).
In the second round of the Triple-A phase the Reds selected outfielder Pin-Chieh Chen. He split time between Advanced-A and Double-A, with a majority of it being in Advanced-A. Overall he hit .263/.338/.378 with 47 walks and 68 strikeouts. He’s originally from Taiwan and has been with the Cubs since the 2010 season. The 24-year-old doesn’t seem to have much power to work with, hitting just 11 home runs in 575 career games, but he makes plenty of contact and seems to walk quite often. When it was announced, he was listed as a second baseman, but he has played all of 35 games in his career at the position, spending nearly all of his time in the outfield.