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Rule 5 Pick'em: Derek Rodriguez or Eduardo Morlan?

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We learned yesterday that the Milwaukee Brewers had seen enough of Rule 5 pick Eduardo Morlan and promply DFA'd him in favor of Wes Littleton.

"We didn't think he'd make our big-league club," said Melvin. "We like his arm but that's not our call right now," said Melvin.  --Journal Sentinel

The Brewers have already offered Morlan back to the Rays, who have a Thursday deadline to accept him back. If they choose to take him back, they would pay the Brewers $25,000 and probably assign him to a minor league camp immediately. If not the Brewers could try clear him on waivers and keep Morlan in their system. Or they could simply try and work out a trade like the Pirates did with Evan Meek in 2008.

According to a Rays source close to the situation, there was no "imminent" decision, but as we all know the Rays like to move in silence and who knows what is actually happening. One thing I do know is the Morlan decision will probably come down to a simple one for the Rays; do they want to take him back? Or do they want to take a chance and workout a deal with the White Sox to keep their own Rule 5 pick, Derek Rodriguez.

In theory they could actually have both, but I'm not sure there is a need for that. Morlan is three year younger than Rodriguez and up until 2008 he was a highly touted relief prospect. Even after a disappointing and injury shortened season, his numbers were on par with that of older Rodriguez.

 2008

Rodriguez

Morlan

IP

42.2

47

ERA

3.38

3.64

FIP

3.5

3.82

K/9

9.28

8.62

BB/9

3.8

2.87

K/BB

2.44

3

HR/9

0.42

0.96

*Note* for comparison's sake Rodriguez numbers are from AA.

As you can see, a down season for Morlan was still pretty close Rodriguez's AA production. Rodriguez would receive a promotion after his 42 innings and watched his FIP rise to 4.13 and his HR/9 jumped to 1.23 in AAA. The one thing I liked about Rodriguez was his ground ball percentage which is around 50% for his minor league career. However, that number was lowered to 43% in 2008. Morlan is a flyball pitcher who is at 46.4 FB% for his career. He used to sit comfortable around 92-93 MPH, but was down to 88-91 in 2008 and there were concerns with his conditioning and his elbow.

When selected in the Rule 5 draft, both players seemed to have decent shots at making their respective clubs, however, neither pitcher has impressed in spring. Morlan has given up five runs on 10 hits including two home runs in seven innings. He does have six strikeouts and two walks. I talked to a person close to the Brewers, and they said that Morlan was hit around quite a bit and he "certainly wasn't overpowering anybody." Rodriguez has shown even less. In four innings of work, he's given up three runs on five hits and three walks. He has zero strikeouts and has hit two batters. 

Even though Morlan may never turn into the pitcher we imagined he would be after the Matt Garza/Delmon Young trade, when it comes to Morlan or Rodriguez, I'm taking the younger pitcher with the higher upside. We'll see if the Rays make the same decision.