In my last entry I spoke about the fifth spot in the rotation. Today I wanted to talk about another important decision involving the number five, or should I say “V”. Since the 60s, minor league players have been drafted and sent to new teams for next to nothing. Players like Johan Santana, Joakim Soria, Bobby Bonilla, Roberto Clemente, Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino, and even former Phillie and now MLB Network Analyst Mitch “Mitchie Poo” Williams were all selected in the rule 5 draft. You could say that a lot of teams are kicking themselves for the players the do not select to protect. The Phillies are hoping to catch a break again from the Rule V draft.
This past winter, the Phillies, with the last pick in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft, picked up relief pitcher David Herndon from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Herndon’s numbers in 2009 were okay. He threw 65.1 innings over 50 games, all for the Angels’ AA affiliate. In those 65.1 IP, he gave up 70 hits (9 HRs), 14 BBs, 35 Ks, and 22 ERs for a 5-6 record with 11 Saves and a 3.03 ERA.
Herndon had never pitched above AA but may be getting his shot this season. So far this spring the righty has thrown 9.1 scoreless innings. Over those 9.1 innings Herndon has faced 35 batters. Of those 35, only 8 have gotten to first base. Herndon has given up 4 singles, 4 base on balls, and struck out 3. The thing that sticks out about his numbers is his groundball rate. 21 of 35 batters grounded out facing Herndon. That’s 60% of the batters faced! Granted he is more likely to be a mop up guy than a setup man, but with that kind of groundball rate, he could develop into one heck of a reliever.
So, with the final days of spring coming to a close and Herndon still with the Phillies, his chances are getting better and better to make the squad. I honestly think that if Kendrick does not get the fifth spot, which I obviously think will be the case, that he will be sent to Lehigh Valley to continue steady work. That bodes well for Herndon. Hopefully Herndon can keep up his solid work into late October/ early November.