Things got under way with those Rule 5 picks, and Arizona swooped in to steal Starlin Peralta (sometimes known as Starling Peralta, it appears) from the Cubs. I'll defer to John Sickels of Minor League Ball for this analysis:
He has one of the better arms in the Chicago system, owning a 93-97 MPH fastball and a promising slider. His changeup needs work and his command is inconsistent. Age 22, he posted a 3.44 ERA with an 86/42 K/BB in 99 innings for Low-A Peoria this year. Peralta has a high ceiling, but is very much a project at this stage and it will be interesting to see how the Diamondbacks find a way to keep him. CHANCE TO STICK: Low to moderate.
"He's got a big arm. We got a lot of good grades on him. You look at his numbers and I don't know if they'll jump out at you right away in [low Class A], but he's a guy with a lot of potential, a lot of upside and we'll get him into camp and see what he looks like. If he stays in the big leagues, chances are he's going to have to move to the 'pen, but we'll see. We'll get him some innings and see what he looks like. The raw tools are there, and we'll get him into camp and see how close he is."
As explained last night, to retain Peralta's services, he has to be kept on our 25-man roster for the entire year, or we have to offer him back to the Cubs. After that year, what happens to him thereafter is entirely up to us. I'm curious to see how Towers juggles the pieces. A reliever is probably easier to stash away at the back of the bullpen than some roles: can run him out there in low-leverage situations and see if he has got the stuff to justify retaining him. Of course, to a good extent, that's what spring training is for: we'll see if he survives longer than last year's pick, Brett Lorin, who we ended up trading with the Pirates to retain, but then went 3-10 with a 6.40 ERA for Double-A Mobile.
With the very next pick, however, turnabout proved fair play, as the Phillies swooped in for Ender Inciarte, a speedy outfielder who stole 46 bases and hit .307 between Low-A and High-A this season. I'm sure John B will be able to shed more light on him, especially since he won't be able to use what he wrote in the Visalia OF review! John's first reaction was "I am having a hard time imagining Inciarte being able to stay on a Major League Roster all year. So we should get a chance to take him back. Especially someone like the Phillies who are always in "got for it" mode." John Sickels of MLB gives him a "moderate" chance of hanging around.
That was the highlight of the final day, without even any significant rumors to trigger a panic and make everyone Twitterpated. Nick Piecoro had a nice write-up, making sense of the winter whispers with rather more tolerance than I could. He also quotes Towers on what he took from Nashville: "I guess we have a better understanding of what we can do if we wanted to do it. I would say there’s probably nothing that close... We value [Upton] greatly. In our eyes, it makes it probably even more difficult to move him, because of the type of the outfielder we think he is and with the way the market is headed for those type of players, there’s a lot of value there. And with his age."
Couple of bits and pieces of non-winter meetings news, revolving instead around Mark Grace. His trial date has been set for March 19, though the case would only go that far if there's no settlement, such as him pleading gulity to lesser charges. However, in his monthly chat, Derrick Hall had some kind words for Grace, strongly hinting that his time with the Diamondbacks is not over : "I am regularly in contact with Mark and have let him know we still want him to be a part of this organization. I am a huge Gracie fan. He will likely be in uniform this spring helping out our staff and I anticipate finding the perfect spot for him soon."
Better tidy up the non-Diamondbacks news from the last day, since there will be no morning thread in which that can be covered [hooray! I get to go to bed at a civilized hour for once!] But even here, there wasn't much to discuss - some reports say the Nationals contingent didn't even hang around for the Rule 5 draft, in which they lost two players! The Yankees supposedly made a $12 million offer to Kevin Youkilis, but it was in marked contrast to last season, that no deal this year signed during the winter meetings was worth more than $40 million. The likely top pitcher and position player, Zach Greinke and Josh Hamilton, are still out there however...
It certainly wasn't for want of trying.To quote KT - apparently explaining why he's as tired as the picture on top suggests: "I can't speak for the other 29 clubs. But I can speak for about four or five, that I spent more time with than my people. I feel like I KNOW them better than my people. So we went from 8 o'clock in the morning to 3 in the morning (every day). Actually, I was with three clubs last night until 6:30 in the morning." But for now, we can relax, take stock, and try to figure out how Kevin Towers is going to cram 27 players into the 25-man roster come next Opening Day.