Right at the Rule 5 protection deadline, the Oakland Athletics announced that they had added right-handers Heath Fillmyer and Lou Trivino to the 40-man roster, protecting them from next month’s Rule 5 draft. To make room for Fillmyer and Trivino, the A’s designated outfielder Jaycob Brugman and LHP Sam Moll.
As I stated in an article for The Athletic last month, Fillmyer and Trivino were likely additions to the A’s 40-man roster after both had strong 2017 seasons. Fillmyer spent the entire season with Double-A Midland, helping to lead the RockHounds to their fourth straight Texas League title. The 23-year-old had a 3.49 ERA in 149.2 innings for the RockHounds during the regular season. He followed that up by allowing three runs in 11.2 innings in the post-season.
Fillmyer was a fifth-round pick of the A’s out of Mercer Community College in 2014. A shortstop at the start of his college career, Fillmyer transitioned to the mound and was still learning to pitch when he joined the A’s in 2014. He struggled during the first half of the 2015 season with Low-A Beloit, but he had a strong second-half and parlayed that into a breakout 2016 season with High-A Stockton and Midland.
Fillmyer’s sinker is a very effective pitch that helped him rack up a 47% groundball rate last season. His four-seam fastball can touch 95 and he has a power change-up that sits in the 87-90 MPH range and works like a split-finger. He is an excellent athlete who fields his position well. Fillmyer should be in the Triple-A Nashville rotation next season.
Trivino had his career trajectory change dramatically midway through the 2015 season, when he moved from the starting rotation into the bullpen. He had a strong second-half as a reliever with Stockton. That off-season, he tweaked his delivery and built up velocity with a different training program. As a full-time reliever with Stockton, Trivino’s fastball bumped up from the 91-93 MPH it was as a starter to 96-98 MPH, touching 100. He also features a hard cutter that sits in the low-90s, and a 82-84 MPH breaking ball.
Trivino’s improved pitch mix produced a 2.85 ERA for Stockton and Midland in 2016 and a 3.03 ERA for Midland and Nashville in 2017. Trivino was eligible for the Rule 5 draft last year, but went unclaimed. However, Trivino’s 35-inning stint with Nashville last season raised his profile around the league, making it more likely that he would be claimed.
Brugman goes on waivers just days after he had three hits in the AFL Championship game. The A’s 2013 16th-round pick had an injury-marred year that limited him to just 86 total games between the big leagues and the minor leagues. He appeared in nine games in the Fall League as an injury replacement for Tyler Ramirez. Brugman hit .266 with a .346 OBP in 48 games with the A’s this season. In his minor league career, he is a .274/.345/.426 hitter in five seasons.
Moll joined the A’s on a waiver claim late in the 2017 season, and he made his major-league debut with Oakland on September 1. He appeared in 11 games with the A’s and allowed eight runs in 6.2 innings. Moll has a 3.35 ERA in 215 career innings over five minor league seasons. With Moll off of the roster, the A’s now have only one left-handed reliever (Daniel Coulombe) on the roster. Left-handed relief figures to be an area that the A’s target in the free agent and trade markets this off-season.
The A’s have 10 days to trade Brugman and Moll, or let them go on waivers. If they clear waivers, they can both be outrighted to Triple-A. Both would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft, although the chances of them being selected after not being claimed on traditional waivers is practically zero.
The A’s left several intriguing prospects unprotected for the upcoming Rule 5 draft, including outfielders B.J. Boyd, Luis Barrera, Tyler Marincov and J.P. Sportman, relievers Jake Sanchez, Kyle Finnegan, Sam Bragg and Tucker Healy, and starters Casey Meisner and Brett Graves. The A’s have lost players in each of the last two Rule 5 drafts (Colin Walsh in the 2015 draft and Dylan Covey last year). The Rule 5 draft takes place on the final day of the upcoming MLB Winter Meetings.
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