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)

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.