Thursday, December 08, 2005

rule 5: juan mateo

other blogs are going to cover the rule 5 draft better than we are here, but i'd like to take a moment to recognize that west tenn's juan mateo was selected from the cubs system by the cardinals in the major-league portion of the draft. the cards will have to keep him on their active 25-man roster all year, or place him on waivers, where (if unclaimed) the cubs could retrieve him for a small ($25k) fee.

why mention mateo? after all, the idea that mateo will hang on all year in the cardinal bullpen, a la johan santana in 2000 for the twins, seems remote. but mateo may be the best young starting pitcher in the cubs system -- and when that kid is taken, it bears notice.

what do i mean, "may be the best young starting pitcher"? you've hardly ever heard of him? what about rich hill and sean marshall and carlos marmol and sean gallagher and jae-kuk ryu?

well, i agree that there are other contenders for the title. i simply mean this is a 22-year old dominican righthander who last year fanned 123 at high-a daytona while walking just 27, holding opposing batters to a .204 baa while in the process of compiling a career hits/9 of 8.15 and whip of 1.17. moreover, he blossomed last year not upon being moved from the rotation to the bullpen, but the other way around. he has the maddux-like control that hill, ryu and marmol have never demonstrated, and has the overpowering strikeout stuff that marshall is forced to work without.

i'm not going to summon the ghost of dontrelle willis or anything like that. i'm just saying, mateo is a good pitcher -- jocketty's boys did their homework on this one -- and, if his control allows him to hang on in the back of the saint louis pen for 2006, the cubs will have lost one of their better pitching prospects, even if he is something of an unknown here in chicago right now.

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