More Rule V Notables: Darin Gorski (LHP)

I used an article on Baseball America to write a blog the other day about four potential Rule V pickups for the Orioles.  Given the sheer size of the Rule V pool, it is impossible to list all of the good candidates so some good-looking players inevitably were left off of the BA list for one reason or another.  If I see any player that is Rule V eligible that catches my eye, I might make mention of him between now and the day of the draft.

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Non-contending teams can afford the luxury of taking a shot at a high upside pitcher in the Rule V draft with the idea that the pitcher can be hidden in the bullpen for an entire season.  A team with hopes of contention – like the Orioles – usually doesn’t bother with a Rule V pitcher but if they do it is for a pitcher that can contribute to the team right away (likely out of the bullpen).  Therefore, a team like the Orioles would ideally like to grab a major league ready pitcher who has the ability to contribute out of the bullpen.  TJ McFarland sort of fit this mold in 2012, although I would argue that his groundball tendencies make him a better rotation candidate than a bullpen arm.

At first glance, Darin Gorski fits the profile of a pitcher a contending team might be able to carry all year on their team because of his ability to potentially add value as a LOOGY, long-man, or even spot starter.  The 26-year old moved one level per season from the time the Mets made him their 7th round selection of the 2009 amateur draft, starting in the New York Penn League (A-) in 2009 and working his way up to the Pacific Coast League (AA) in 2013.  Gorski experienced a bump in the road early in the 2013 season as he showed uncharacteristically poor control which led to 10 earned runs allowed in 14 2/3’s innings.  The reason for the control issues were likely injury related as Gorski landed on the disabled list shortly after.  When he returned, the Mets placed him in AA where he turned in arguably the greatest 14 game stretch of his professional season.

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Gorski’s numbers are solid all the way around.  His 8.1 SO/9 IP career rate coupled with his 2.9 BB/9 career rate makes for a tidy 2.75 SO/BB ratio.  He doesn’t allow many hits (7.8/9 IP for his minor league career).  The lefty reportedly sits around 90 MPH with his fastball that packs enough movement to make it effective.  His changeup is reportedly his biggest weapon.  From 2011 – 2013, he demonstrated nearly identical walk rates (7.5% to 7.3%) and strikeout rates (22.8% to 21.8%) against lefties as righties.  The only split that Gorski really showed was in the slugging department, where right handers hitters hit a homerun nearly three times as often as left handed hitters.  In any event, it appears that platoon splits should not be a serious issue for Gorski either as a reliever or a starter.

Gorski is a fly ball pitcher.  That tendency and concerns over the health of his shoulder are his two obvious downsides.  The injury is less of a concern for a Rule V pick.  If he is not healthy, he can either be stashed on the DL for a time or returned to the Mets.  Despite being a flyball pitcher, Darin has managed to keep the ball in the park relatively well (under 1.0 HR per innings during his career).  In 2013 while pitching in AA, Gorski surrendered just a single homerun in 78 2/3’s innings pitched so perhaps he has found a way to keep the ball in the park altogether (or it is just a random happening from a small sample size).

The reason I like Gorski – perhaps as much as any other available player I’ve seen thus far – is that all indications are that he is major league ready right now.  The Mets toyed with the idea of using him out of the bullpen to start the 2013 season.  There is little reason to believe he is not ready for that role now.  I also like that his upside seems to be that of a 4th or 5th starter and possibly right away.  I doubt the Orioles will draft a player with the intent of having him join the opening day rotation but with Gorski (like it was with McFarland), it is at least an option.  If nothing else, he provides another option as a spot starter and swingman.  Lastly, Gorski has very good career numbers versus LHB which if nothing else, potentially makes him a valuable LOOGY on any club.  There is a lot of flexibility in the way he potentially can be used which is valuable in a Rule V selection.

One last note – Gorski made it through waivers last Spring and was out-righted off of the 40-man to the minors.  The Mets – who do have questions in the rotation and bullpen – made the decision to leave him unprotected most likely in part because they don’t fear he will be selected and retained.  Baseball America – as previously noted – also omitted him from their initial Rule V article.  Maybe there is a reason he has flown under the radar so far, or maybe he is just one of those under the radar guys.  The upside of that is his lack of notoriety strengthens the chances  he is around until the Orioles pick in the second portion of the draft.