Thanks to the current lockout Major League transactions are on hold, but that did not completely stop the Rule 5 Draft from happening. Typically, the Rule 5 Draft takes place on the last day of the Winter Meetings, with separate MLB and MiLB phases. While the Major League phase will not happen until the lockout is over, the minor league phase took place Wednesday afternoon.
The Padres were one of the storylines in the draft, as the club lost five pitchers in the draft, as lefty Erik Sabrowski, and right-handers Carlos Guarate, Luarbert Arias, Nick Kuzia, RHP Caleb Boushley were all selected by other organizations. The club also added as they selected RHP Grant Gavin out of the Kansas City organization.
Unlike the Major League portion of the Rule 5 draft, these players do not have to meet any roster requirements in the next season to remain with their selecting club. Each selection costs the drafting team $24,500. By virtue of selecting one player and losing five, the Padres organization netted a cool $98,000.
Silver linings, I suppose.
Let’s take a look at all of the players changing hands in the Rule 5 Draft.
Padres acquire: RHP Grant Gavin (taken in the first round, 10th overall from the Kansas City Royals).
Gavin, 26, was the Royals’ 29th-round pick in 2016, out of Central Missouri University. He attended high school in the Kansas City area where he also was an all-conference quarterback and an all-state punter on the football field.
Gavin ultimately decided to stick with baseball and made his professional debut in 2016 with the Royals’ AZL team, where he pitched to a 2.01 ERA in 13 games including the only starts of his professional career.
Gavin spent the entire 2021 season in Triple-A Omaha, where he posted a 4.36 ERA in 74.1 innings of relief work. In those 74.1 innings, Gavin struck out 92 batters and walked 35. His K/9 of 11.1 ranked fifth-highest in the Triple-A East league (minimum of 70 innings).
While Gavin wasn’t a starter, he was an innings-eater for Omaha. The righty went at least two innings in 19 of his 41 outings. His .214 batting average against was also the tenth-lowest in the league (minimum 70 innings).
In terms of stuff, Baseball America reported in a 2019 write-up that Gavin possesses a fastball in the 92-94 mph range, with a solid curveball and a changeup that he doesn’t use much. Gavin is big league-ready and could get an invitation to big league spring training whenever it starts.
LHP Erik Sabrowski (taken by the Cleveland Guardians in the first round, 11th overall).
The Padres drafted Sabrowski, 24,in the 14th round out of Cloud County Community College in Kansas in 2018. The Edmonton, Alberta native was a two-way player in college and had at least one team interested in his services as a position player. He was developed as a pitcher in the Padres system but he required Tommy John before he threw a pitch professionally.
He finally debuted this year in Fort Wayne. In eight games (three starts), Sabrowski pitched to a 1.86 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 12 walks in 29 innings. He has a fastball that touches 93 mph and an excellent curveball. John ranked Sabrowski as the 29th best Padres prospect on his individual prospect list. He finished the year on the injured list and needed a second Tommy John surgery that will conceivably prevent him from pitching until 2023 at the earliest. With his excellent curveball, he has a good chance to crack the big leagues as a reliever if he can stay healthy.
RHP Caleb Boushley (taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round, 22nd overall).
Late in the first round, the Brewers nabbed Caleb Boushley – a homecoming for the righty. Boushley, 28, was the Padres’ 33rd-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, out of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. His best season in the Padres system was in 2019 when he spent the whole year in High-A Lake Elsinore and made the Cal League All-Star team.
Boushley started this season in Double-A San Antonio and pitched well in his eight starts with the Missions to earn a promotion to El Paso. Boushley started 15 games for El Paso and struggled for the most part, pitching to a 5.85 ERA in 80 innings. He doesn’t walk many batters (5.8% walk rate) but he had the second-worst HR/9 in the league (minimum 80 innings).
Boushley throws a fastball that sits 89-91 mph and has a decent curveball. At 28, he might be a bit too old to be considered a prospect but he could be a decent innings-eating arm in the upper minors.
RHP Nick Kuzia (taken by the Detroit Tigers in the second round, 30th overall).
Kuzia, 25, signed with the Padres as an undrafted free agent in 2017, out of the University of Massachusettes-Lowell. He had his best season in 2021. splitting the season between San Antonio and El Paso. Between the two stops, Kuzia appeared in a career-high 41 games and pitched to a 3.42 ERA. In 52.2 innings, Kuzia struck out 71 batters and walked 27, in addition to uncorking 10 wild pitches.
In looks we had in Lake Elsinore back in 2019, he can hit 93 mph and displayed a good breaking ball. He has been a reliever as a professional and has been capable of pitching multiple innings when needed. He’s a solid upper-level arm who should help the Tigers in Triple-A.
RHP Carlos Guarate (taken by the St. Louis Cardinals in the second round, 35th overall).
Guarate, 20, signed with the Padres as part of their 2017 international draft class. He was lauded for his arm speed when he was signed and there was plenty of optimism that he’d be able to add some velocity to a fastball that sat in the 88-91 mph.
Guarate showed considerable promise in 2019 in his stateside debut in the Arizona League. That season, Guarate pitched a 2.22 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) in 44 innings. The K/9 (7.66) wasn’t overly impressive but the then-18-year-old was able to display good command.
This season, Guarate started the season with the Low-A Storm and had a 4.94 ERA in 58.1 innings before getting promoted to High-A Fort Wayne. Upon his promotion to the High-A Central League, Guarate became the youngest pitcher in the circuit. In 40 innings, Guarate struggled, pitching to a 7.30 ERA, averaging just five strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Guarate’s fastball topped out at 91 mph in our looks at him this year and he has a slider that shows promise. He is still very young and made our list of guys to watch going into the 2020 season, which was ultimately canceled.
RHP Luarbert Arias (taken in the Miami Marlins in the fourth round, 47th overall).
Only four teams made a selection in the fourth round and the Marlins nabbed the promising Luarbert Arias. Like Guarate, Arias showed promise as a member of the 2019 AZL Padres, pitching to a 3.86 ERA in 51.1 innings. He made a late-season cameo in short-season Tri-City to cap off his season.
Arias did not make the Storm roster out of spring training and spent the first six weeks in extended spring training before being promoted at the end of June. Arias worked exclusively out of the bullpen and posted an excellent K/9 of 15.8, though his command could be spotty at times.
Going into the 2021 season, Arias ranked as our 15th ranked prospect in the Padres system. He has a fastball in the mid-90s and a good changeup and an improving curveball. Our assessment said that if Arias makes gains with his fastball, he could develop into a back-end starter.
If Arias can add the stamina and velocity to develop as a starter in the Miami organization, they may have poached an intriguing prospect.