Astros take Rhiner Cruz from Mets with top pick in Rule 5 draft

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This morning’s Rule 5 draft wasn’t very exciting, as a total of just 12 players were selected from an available talent pool that nearly everyone seemed to agree was somewhat underwhelming.

With the No. 1 pick the Astros selected right-hander Rhiner Cruz from the Mets. He was originally signed by the Tigers as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic in 2004, but they released Cruz in 2006 and he’s been in the Mets’ farm system ever since.

Prior to the draft John Manuel of Baseball America pegged Cruz as someone likely to be selected, noting that his “fastball touches the upper 90s.” However, his results between high Single-A and Double-A this year were mediocre, particularly for a 24-year-old, as Cruz threw 72 innings with a 3.89 ERA and 69/45 K/BB ratio working exclusively as a reliever.

With Cruz off the board the Twins selected 25-year-old right-hander Terry Doyle from the White Sox, adding to their always plentiful collection of control pitchers with low-90s velocity and poor strikeout rates.

Here are all the selections:

1. RHP Rhiner Cruz (Astros, from Mets)

2. RHP Terry Doyle (Twins, from White Sox)

3. RHP Lucas Luetge (Mariners, from Brewers)

4. 3B/OF Ryan Flaherty (Orioles, from Cubs)

5. LHP Cesar Cabral (Royals, from Red Sox)

6. RHP Lendy Castillo (Cubs, from Phillies)

8. SS Gustavo Nunez (Pirates, from Tigers)

21. LHP Robert Fish (Braves, from Angels)

22. OF Eric Komatsu (Cardinals, from Nationals)

23. 3B Marwin Gonzalez (Red Sox, from Cubs)

25. RHP Brett Lorin (Diamondbacks, from Pirates)

29. RHP Brad Meyers (Yankees, from Nationals)

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.