As is tradition, the Winter Meetings are wrapping up with the Rule 5 draft. Normally this is a time when teams look to fill out their minor league systems with players from other teams, but some might strike gold with another Dan Uggla, Shane Victorino, or Roberto Clemente.
The Cleveland Indians picked 15th in Round 1 of the Major League Phase, the second-to-last team to make a pick. They opted for Hoby Milner, a 25-year-old left-handed pitching prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. Being that this was the MLB phase of the draft, Milner will need to be added to the 25-man roster and the Indians will be sending $100,000 to the Phillies.
Milner pitched 16 innings at the Triple-A level last season, but the majority of his year was spent with the Double-A Reading Fightin’ Phils. There he carried a 1.84 ERA and a 2.93 FIP over 49 innings of relief work. His 26.5 percent strikeout rate and 5.9 percent walk rate were both career-highs at any level he has spent significant time at in his career. It is an important to keep in mind, though, that at 25 (about to turn 26 in January) he was a year or two older than most of his competition.
And if you are a fan of meaningless, arbitrary streaks, Milner started the 2016 season with 23.1 shutout innings with 24 strikeouts and five walks.
Outside of Andrew Miller and the recently-acquired Tim Cooney, the Indians do not have many viable lefty relief options in the majors. Milner will be competing with Kyle Crockett, Edwin Escobar, Cooney, and Ryan Merritt for the other lefty relief spot in spring training.