While the Jason Heyward watch enters Day 2, the Cardinals were not completely inactive on the final day of the Winter Meetings. The team signed Jonathan Broxton to a two-year, $7.5 million deal to provide a little more veteran presence in the bullpen. The rule 5 draft also took place yesterday. The Cardinals lost youngster Luis Perdomo to the Rockies (then traded to the Padres), but also picked up another potential pitcher for their bullpen in Matt Bowman, previously with the Mets organization.
At MiLB.com, they provide answers to questions regarding the rule 5 draft, including this one, on eligibility.
Can any Minor League player be drafted?
No. Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played in pro ball for five years.
All players on a Major League Baseball team's 40-man roster, regardless of other eligibility factors, are "protected" and ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
Once a player is drafted (at a acost of $50,000), he must remain on the major league roster of the team that selects him for the entire year with at least 90 days not on the disabled list, or be put through waivers and then offered back to his original team for $25,000. The draft is intended to make sure that major-league quality players are not withering in some organization that has no room for them or realistic opportunity to make the majors.
Given the process, Matt Bowman has a very good shot at making the Cardinals out of Spring Training next year. In Derrick Goold's article on this year's Rule 5 draft, John Mozeliak indicated that Bowman would have a shot as long-man or swing reliever-type role. Bowman struggled last season, as many pitchers do in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, leading him to be unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. Before the season, Kiley McDaniel rated Bowman the Mets 18th best prospect.
Bowman is an unusual case: he was a 13th rounder out of Princeton in 2012 that stands 6'0/165 and was a primary shortstop in college; he sat 89-91 in college and then sat 94-95 in a predraft workout at Citi Field, with the Mets admitting they were lucky he was local. He then moved to the mound full-time in pro ball, molded his delivery after Tim Lincecum and then his stuff ticked up a few notches. He'll flash three above average pitches at times, sitting 90-93 with good life and a slider and changeup to go with a lesser fourth pitch curveball.
His upside is a back-end starter but everything may play better in short stints.
The Cardinals have had success turning their own position players into pitchers, and Bowman fits the mold of past successes. That Lincecum-like delivery is unusual and you can see it in this video (Go to the 1:20 mark).
The Cardinals see something in him to indicate he could be a decent option despite seeing his strikeout rate almost cut in half from 2014 (22%) to 2015 (12%) accompanied by an increase in walks. The Cardinals have been looking around for bullpen help and Bowman, who has been a starter the last three seasons, could be a guy whose stuff plays up a bit out of the pen.
As the report from McDaniel above mentioned, Bowman is from Princeton and not to play too much into stereotypes, but he has embraced sabermetrics as a pro ballplayer. Before last season he gave a very interesting interview over at Amazin' Avenue. I recommend reading the whole thing, but a few quotes were of particular interest. Here, he discusses how advanced technologies can help preparation as well as getting a better understanding of what is happening within a game.
But based on what I have and what I'm given, it's not necessarily an every day, every start type of thing, but they have the pitch tracker going. And that's important to me because, obviously, every pitch you throw, you'd like to say, ‘well, my slider has so-and-so revolutions per second or minute,' and you want it to be as high as possible. But what you don't realize is when that starts to slow down later in the game—or maybe later when you're throwing pitches. I throw a split changeup, and sometimes it floats up, sometimes it sinks. Knowing how much break it has and what its tendencies are—knowing what your own limitations are is very important.
He also talks about his approach, which is pretty aggressive and very similar to what the Cardinals have been preaching for years.
[T]he name of pitching is pretty simple: you want to strike out guys, you don't want to walk them, and you want them to put the ball in play. If you're so good that you just pitch to certain stats, then you can be a dominant pitcher. It's pretty difficult to look at the sabermetrics. But I enjoy looking at it more from a front office view and thinking about what type of team you'd put on the field, and also it's helpful, as all sabermetrics are, when looking retrospectively at an outing.
Bowman could take Carlos Villanueva's role next season if he makes the team, and while he might not be an impact guy for the Cardinals, finding a potential bullpen piece at the major league level from the Rule 5 draft could be a pretty easy, low-cost win. With the additions of Broxton and Bowman, the 40-man roster now stands at 36 players, leaving four more open spots as the Cardinals look to fill their roster.