Raul Alcantara was added to the Oakland A’s 40-man roster on Wednesday – wait Raul who? That’s what most of Oakland was asking when this news hit the web.
This Dominican Republic native was acquired in the trade with the Boston Red Sox in 2011 that sent Andrew Bailey to the East Coast and brought Josh Reddick to Oakland. So what has this right-handed pitcher been doing these past two years? Well, in 2013, he bounced between Class A Beloit and Class A Stockton and had a 1.38 earned run average over a total of 156 1/3 innings pitched. Additionally, he struck out 124 and walked only 24.
So why bring him up now? This is mostly to protect him from the Rule 5 draft that is coming up on December 12th. When the Red Sox signed Alcantara in 2009, he was only 16 years old, which makes his eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December. If a ballplayer is 18 years old or younger when he signs with a team, he must be added to the 40-man roster of a team within five seasons or he can be drafted by another organization. By putting him on the 40-man roster, he is ultimately saved him from being drafted by another team. Wednesday was the last day to add eligible Rule 5 draftees to the 40-man roster, so Alcantara was added just in time.
The Athletics obviously see potential in Alcantara and fear that he could be snatched up by another team. By bringing him up to the Major League, the Athletics now have 39 spots filled on their roster. This leaves one spot open that could possibly be filled by someone they acquire in the Rule 5 draft.
Even though it is usually unlikely that players picked up during this December draft make a huge impression on a team, the Oakland A’s could benefit by picking up a middle reliever, which they desperately need. So what are the Athletics’ options when it comes to pitchers?
First there is Cubs’ right-handed pitcher Marcus Hatley. Many were surprised that that Cubs did not bring him up to the Majors and protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, especially since they still have three open spots on their roster.
Hatley has average control of the baseball and throws his fastball consistently between 92-95 mph. In 2013, he spent time in both Double-A and Triple-A, and was able to strike out 74 batters and walk 35 over 61 innings. Having already gone through Tommy John surgery, this 6-foot-5 pitcher could make quite an impact on a small team like the Oakland A’s who does not want to pay top dollar for a reliever.
The second possible prospect for the Athletics is Danny Burawa who is a right handed pitcher for Yankees’ Minor League Double-A team. Burawa has great velocity, usually between 92-97 mph, however he lacks control and has an inconsistent changeup and slider. This 2013 season was his first debut after recovering from a cracked rib and torn oblique, and he has shown improvement. Burawa had a 0.92 ERA for the second half of 2013 and consistently improved his stikeout-to-walk ratio throughout the season. If the A’s are willing to put in the time to help improve his control, he could definitely become a solid reliever.
With the draft only a few weeks away, it gives the Athletics some time to scout out the eligible draftees. Or perhaps they already have some players in mind. All I know is that whether the Oakland A’s pick up a player in the Rule 5 Draft or through a trade later in the offseason, they need to fill their last spot with a pitcher.
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