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Cleveland Indians Rule 5 Draft 2018: Kyle Dowdy among four prospects lost

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Indians add a pitcher and 1B/catcher in AAA phase but lose a pair of pitchers and a first baseman.

MLB: Winter Meetings Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians’ Major League departure from this year’s Rule 5 draft was right-handed pitcher Kyle Dowdy, who was chosen by the New York Mets with the 8th overall pick of the Major League Phase. The Mets will now be on the hook to keep Dowdy on their 25-man roster for the entire season and pay the Indians $100,000. If they do not, they will have to return Dowdy to the Tribe and receive only half of their payment back in return.

Dowdy, 25, spent parts of last year in Double-A and Triple-A with both the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians. He was the second player in the Leonys Martin trade for Willi Castro. Overall in 30 games played and 20 starts combined across three teams and two levels, Dowdy held a 5.15 ERA through 124 innings pitched while striking out 120 and walking 50.

Of note, Dowdy’s velocity spiked after he was acquired by the Tribe, topping out around 99 mph in his starts for Akron at the end of the season when he helped lead the team to the Eastern League playoffs, notably striking out nine in 6.0 shutout innings in his final start of the regular season.

While Dowdy can still be returned if he fails to stay on the Mets’ 25-man roster all of next year, every other player selected either by the Indians or other teams are gone for good.

That means #TeamEsparza is over after the Indians failed to keep RHP Matt Esparza on their Triple-A roster for the Rule 5 draft. The Los Angeles Angels selected Esparza in the minor league portion of the draft.

Esparza, 24, was a 14th round draft pick out of UC Irvine in 2015. He notably led all Cleveland Indians minor league pitchers in strikeouts in 2016 with 141 whiffs in 139 innings pitched. He had a strong 2017 as well, but he was injured for nearly the entire 2018 season, never evolving past a few rehab outings in Arizona and High-A Lynchburg.

Anthony Miller, 24, was an 18th round draft pick by the Indians in 2015. He repeated 2018 at High-A Lynchburg and saw his hitting numbers improve with a slash of .264/.363/.432 but he wasn’t seen as much more than an afterthought in the organization. Maybe his outlook will improve with the A’s.

Hector Figueroa, 24, an international signing out of the Dominican Republic, missed the entire 2016 season and didn’t make his way to the United States until last year, where he 2.78 ERA in 14 relief appearances where he struck out 22 batters and walked 10 over 22 innings pitched.

Now onto the Indians draftees.

Yapson Gomez, 25, was an international signing out of Venezuela. It took him a while to get going as he spent his first three professional seasons pitching in either the Venezuelan League of the Dominican Summer League. Gomez made it to High-A last season, holding a 2.45 ERA in 10 appearances out of the bullpen. Perhaps the Indians saw something they liked in the left-hander.

Wilson Garcia, 24, is a first base/catching prospect who also hails out of Venezuela. The Orioles acquired Garcia in 2018 from the Philadelphia Phillies for cash and he proceeded to have one of his best offensive seasons, slashing .293/.323/.510 with a huge power surge to 23 home runs (doubling his career total of 22 up to that point) while only striking out about 10 percent of the time. It will be interesting to see if the Indians give him more time at catcher, a position he’s played less in recent years, although he holds a career 40 percent rate for throwing out would-be basestealers.