Rule 5 Drives Decisions
Dec 16, 2045: YELLOW SPRINGS – With Rule 5 looming over the team like a hatchet over a Thanksgiving Turkey’s windpipe, the Yellow Springs Nine announced today that it has added four players to their 40-man roster. Those in the organization say it was a difficult Sophie’s Choice kind of thing because the team’s farm system, while not filled with massive numbers of blue-chippers, is quite broad in the shoulders.
“We’ve got a lot of talent in the organization,” said newly minted assistant GM Chris Mason (who was sporting a sharp blazer and a “YS9 Heartland Championship” lapel pin). “If we could, we’d like an 80-man roster.”
The team protected three pitchers (Byron Ratcliffe
, Ivan Molina
, and Wilson Reyes
) and Rich Burke
, a youthful defense-minded catcher who the club has slated as a backup option in case either Jesus Rodriguez
or Bruce McKinley
were to go down with injury.
Of the foursome, Ratcliffe carries perhaps the most interest as a future impact player. The lefty is a 19-year-old who was acquired in the trade that sent Ricardo Mendoza to Charlotte, and who already throws 101 MPH. He dominated Rookie ball hitters last year, and more than held his own in 26 A-Ball innings in Silver Springs. Some insiders say they are hoping Racliffe arrives at spring camp ready to prove he deserves to make the jump from A-ball to the bigs, but saner minds might suggest a season in AA is more in the offing.
At 23, Molina has been a classic story of a guy who scouts have been drooling over the blazing speedball, but who has never been expected to find the plate. A funny thing happened on the way to the dance, though, and while stepping from A-ball to AA Santa Cruz, Molina managed to drop his walk rate nearly in half. Now, mind be, that means he walked only 7.8 guys per nine innings … yes, that 7.8 is not a typo. But that is a career best, and scouts are literally buzzing that a light bulb seems to have come on for him. Bottom line here is that if he can mange to control his stuff, Ivan Molina could well turn into another in the line of dominating pitchers in the Nine rotation.
Finally comes Wilson Reyes, a 25-year-old lefty with more moxie that power. He came to the team as a minor league free agent a winter ago, and proceeded to throw a 2.65 ERA in 91 innings in Indianapolis. The team expects Reyes to spend the season in AAA again, but we could see him in Yellow Springs if the club runs into injury issues.
“Depth is important to us,” Mason said, reading from a 3x5 index card he whipped out of his pocket. “Yellow Springs, you’re going to see, is quite a depth-thinking place.”