10 December 2009
The Diamondbacks added a player and also lost one in the MLB Rule 5 draft on Thursday. The D'backs added LHP Zach Kroenke, a left-handed reliever from the Yankees, and lost right-handed starter Hector Ambriz, who pitched for AAA Reno last year.
(26 when the season starts)
2009: 7-1, 1.99 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 72.1 IP, 6.8K, 3.7BB, 0.5 HR/9
2008: 7-0, 2.85 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 53.2 IP, 9.1K, 4.7BB, 0.7 HR/9
Zach Kroenke is a 6-3 left-hander who was drafted in the 5th round in 2005 out of the University of Nebraska. He throws a fastball in the low 90s, and also has a cutter, split-finger fastball, and change-up. Kroenke's raw numbers were excellent the last two years, including a stellar 1.99 ERA in 2009.
Looking at his peripheral stats, the walks are a little high, but the HR rates are very good and the strikeouts are decent. His Fielding Independent ERA was 3.64 in 2009, and 2.10 in 2008. Looking at Kroenke's splits from AAA, he held lefties to a .196 batting average, while right-handers hit .220 against him. In 2008, the splits were reversed, as LHB hit .213 while RHB hit .182 against him. Over his career, he hasn't shown a particular advantage against left-handers.
Kroenke also pitched in the Arizona Fall League this year, and reportedly his velocity was up. In the AFL, Kroenke had a Win and 2 Saves, with a 5.28 ERA (14Ks, 4 Bs, and 2 HRs in 15.1 IP).
Kroenke has a chance to keep a job at the back end of the bullpen. He has spent a full year at AAA, so unlike many Rule 5 draftees, he should be ready to pitch in the majors. He's probably expected to be a left-handed specialist, but his record shows that he had pitched equally well against both sides. The key for his success will be to keep the walks down.
2009 AAA Stats: 9-9, 5.57 ERA, 7.3K, 2.8 BB, 0.8 HR
I thought that the D'backs should have protected Ambriz on the 40-Man roster. Ambriz’s peripherals were much better than his actual results. His Fielding Independent ERA was only 3.80, but Ambriz was plagued by an unusually high BABIP and a low LOB%. Drafted as a 5th Rounder out of UCLA in 2006, Ambriz has never been ranked high in the Prospect lists, and he's had some weight issues, but there is some potential here.
He'll probably be used as a relief pitcher with the Indians.