As Expected, Tribe Quiet in Rule 5 Draft

The Cleveland Indians went into the Rule 5 draft with a loaded 40-man roster, meaning the club was going to be sitting out the Major League portion of the annual December draft.

While the Indians did not add to their 26-man big league roster for the coming year, the team did avoid losing any unprotected players during the MLB draft. That could not be said during the minor league portion, where the team added a pair but lost three during the less-frequently discussed phase of the yearly lottery.

Joining the Indians organization Thursday were pitchers Danny Young and Jhon Peluffo.

Young, 25, is a left-handed pitcher who spent time with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Double-A (New Hampshire) and Triple-A (Buffalo) affiliates last season. At 6’3”, 200 lb., the Boynton Beach, Florida, native was taken in the eighth round of the 2015 draft by the Blue Jays after his time at the University of Florida. He spent five years in the minors for Toronto, pitching for the bulk of it at the Double-A level (90 of 161 games). He has worked almost exclusively as a reliever, making just one start in his first year of pro ball in 2015. He owns a 10-5 career record with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP with nine saves in 14 opportunities.

Last season, he opened the year at Triple-A but struggled, allowing six runs on five hits with six walks and six strikeouts in four and one-third innings. He was more productive in his return to New Hampshire, where he posted a 2.16 ERA and a .225 batting average against over 33 1/3 innings (25 games), but his command remained a problem as he walked 17 in that span (4.6 per nine innings). After a solid month of work for the Fisher Cats from late June to the end of July, he returned to Buffalo for four outings, giving up a lot of base traffic on hits (seven of 19 batters faced reached on hits), and he was back on the move to New Hampshire for the final few weeks of the minor league slate. He wrapped the regular season slate with seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball.

Young’s numbers were skewed by some lopsided results in April and June, which coincided with his two months with his highest walk totals. He struggled some against his league’s older batters, but put up fairly typical splits against lefties and righties for a southpaw.

Peluffo, listed as a rail-thin 6’3”, 140 lb. right-hander, worked at both levels of A-ball in the Orioles organization last season in his sixth season with Baltimore. A 22-year-old pitcher out of Cartagena, Colombia, he opened the 2019 season with Class-A Delmarva in his third season of work there before a late August promotion to High-A Frederick in his first season working exclusively as a reliever. He went 1-4 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP with a .179 batting average against with Delmarva, striking out 55 and walking 27 in 58 1/3 innings of work over 30 games. He allowed a run on five hits with 12 strikeouts and four walks in 10 1/3 innings in three games of Carolina League action.

Peluffo spent the first two years of his pro career with Baltimore’s Dominican Summer League team. He started four times and came out of the bullpen ten in his debut season in 2014, but he spent 2015 and 2016 working solely as a starter before adding some relief work back into his game during the 2017 season (14 starts and nine relief appearances for Delmarva). He made 20 starts and four appearances out of the bullpen in a rough 2018 season for Delmarva and Frederick, posting a 6-8 record with a 5.69 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. He was a combined 1-4 with five saves, a 2.49 ERA, and a 1.06 WHIP with a .174 batting average against with a healthy 5.5 hits per nine innings allowed this past season. Like Young, his walk rate was a problem at times, as he gave up 4.1 per nine innings on the year despite working an 8.8 mark in the strikeout department.

Exiting the Indians’ farm system for that of the Baltimore Orioles were minor league outfielder Cristopher Cespedes and infielder Wilbis Santiago. Catcher Jose Colina was later selected by the Oakland Athletics.

Cespedes, 21, is a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who signed with the Indians in July of 2014, but has appeared no higher that Arizona Rookie League play in his five years on the farm. The first three of his formal pro seasons included work primarily with the team’s Dominican Summer League squads. He played in 41 games in the rookie league in 2018 and 48 games in 2019. In this most recently completed season (spent entirely with the Indians’ Blue team), he posted a .326/.386/.543 slash over 48 games with 18 doubles, six homers, and 33 RBI (all marks were season highs for him, with exception to games played).

Santiago, who turns 24 in January, started his season a few weeks late with the Lake County Captains before getting a quick promotion to High-A Lynchburg. The left-handed hitting Dominican put up a fifth straight season (albeit again in a limited body of work) with a nice slash line (.314/.337/.403), but over five years in the Indians farm system, he has appeared in just 239 games. He has hit for high average throughout his minor league career (.305), but low walk tendencies have led to an on-base percentage (.348) not all that far off from his career average. At best, he has shown to be a good contact, low power hitter, with just four homers in total over the last four years. Serving as a utility man, he had worked primarily for the Indians organization as a second baseman, but he had also logged innings at second, third, and shortstop, as well as left field.

Colina, 21, was a more recent addition to the Indians after signing with the club last June. He began his professional career when he signed with the Chicago White Sox in July of 2014, but after nearly five years with the club, he was given his release (without playing a game in 2019) a week before Cleveland called upon him. He appeared in 29 games for the Indians’ AZL Blue team, posting a .372/.443/.744 slash with six doubles, one triple, eight homers, and 20 RBI in what proved to be a career-best showing in limited work in the minors for the young switch-hitter.

The Indians have been largely quiet in recent years in the Major League portion of the draft, a somewhat commonplace occurrence for a team in consistent playoff competition with little wiggle room for roster spots. Last year, the team lost pitcher Kyle Dowdy to the New York Mets (he was later a waiver claim by Texas before being returned to Cleveland at the end of July). Pitcher Jordan Milbrath was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2017 draft (the Indians received him back at the end of spring training and traded him to Miami last winter). In 2016, the Indians selected left-handed pitcher Hoby Milner from the Philadelphia Phillies and lost outfielder Anthony Santander to the Orioles (Milner was returned to Philadelphia at the end of spring camp, while Santander spent time on the DL for the O’s before later emerging as a 20-homer hitter this past season).

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