Though the major league Rule 5 Draft has been postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing lockout and will be held once a new CBA is ratified, the minor league Rule 5 took place Wednesday afternoon. Unlike the roster requirements of the MLB portion, which is typically held on the last day of the Winter Meetings, players selected in the MiLB Rule 5 draft can be assigned to any level of their new organization and do not have to remain there for a set period.
Any player not protected on a 38-man Triple-A roster can be selected and any teams without a full 38-man roster can make as many picks as they want until they get to 38 players. If a team selects a player in the MiLB Rule 5, it must pay $24,500 to the original team.
With the fifth pick of the first round, the Cubs took lefty Conner Menez from the Giants. The 26-year-old made his big league debut in 2019 and has pitched a total of 42.1 innings in the majors, compiling a 4.04 ERA with 45 strikeouts and 20 walks. He has made four MLB starts out of 23 total appearances and worked mainly as a reliever at Triple-A this past season after pitching almost exclusively as a starter over the previous four seasons.
Menez leaned heavily on the slider during his time with the Giants, throwing it over 60% of the time with less-than-spectacular results. His low-90s fastball made up most of his remaining offerings, with just a few curveballs mixed in here and there.
He has posted big strikeout numbers at most of his stops over the past few years, but the walk numbers have been really high the last few seasons and he has been stung by the longball since his second stint at Triple-A in 2019. My first inclination is that the Cubs will try to teach him a knuckle-curve like they did with fellow former Giants prospect Caleb Kilian, not to mention several other young pitchers.
Without knowing much about him beyond what I can see in his stat line, this looks like an inexpensive move to add potential bullpen depth at Iowa. There’s also some upside if Menez can get a little more consistent and settle into that relief role. If nothing else, he’s got a pretty dope beard.