Saturday Rockpile: Christian Friedrich, Edwar Cabrera Added to Roster

Four years after being drafted, Christian Friedrich is now on a big league 40-man roster.

The Rule 5 draft will be occurring in just over two weeks at the Winter Meetings.  As Greg Stanwood wrote Thursday, preparing for that time starts now.  The Rockies, and every other team, took the important step of protecting their top eligible prospects from the Rule 5 draft.  Any prospect who was 19 years old or more when signed in 2007 or 18 years old or younger when signed in 2006 are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft.

Colorado elected to place Christian Friedrich and Edwar Cabrera on the 40-man roster, exempting them from being thrifted by a savvy organization.  Both were at high risk to be selected.  While Friedrich struggled in AA Tulsa for two consecutive seasons (ERA's above 5.00 each year), he was Baseball America's #33 overall prospect 18 months ago and could easily be stashed in a big league bullpen.

Cabrera made 2011 his coming out party, starting in Low-A Asheville and moving on to High-A Modesto without missing a beat, becoming the first pitcher since 2008 other than Matt Moore to lead the minors in strikeouts.  That strikeout total was a franchise record as well.  The diminutive 24 year old left-handed starter thrives with a polished change-up, so there are doubts his dominance will continue against more advanced hitters, but if he retains much of that prowess, he will shoot up prospect lists in a hurry.

The moves (including the outright of OF Andrew Brown) leave the Rockies with 38/40 players on the 40-man roster, leaving room for acquisitions via trade or free agency.  RHP Parker Frazier, who was with High-A Modesto in 2011 and added to the AFL roster, is probably the highest profile prospect left exposed to the Rule 5 draft.

***

Meanwhile, the Giants added five players to their 40-man roster.  Shockingly, one was 21-year-old Angel Villalona.  You might remember Villalona as the Giants prospect who was charged with murder in 2010.  Ranked as Baseball America's overall #33 prospect prior to 2008 and #44 prior to 2009, the Dominican teenager struggled to a .306 OBP and .704 OPS in the offensive heavy California League in 2009 prior to his murder charge.

Villalona was cleared of all charges due to lack of evidence.  As Giants' blogger Dave from Golden Gate Giantstweeted:

The Giants are counting on Villalona to be a big part of their lineup. And they have him because he couldn't be picked out of one.

The first baseman hasn't played for two seasons and doesn't even have a visa allowing him to be in the United States.  There were questions about his weight and his prospect stock was falling prior to the arrest, so his addition to the big league roster is curious at the least.  While a team might want to take a chance on his talent, stashing him on a 25-man roster for the whole season is an action no MLB team would perform.  Perhaps there is some other procedural benefit to the move.  

 Cleveland Indians, Grady Sizemore close to reaching deal that would bring him back to Cleveland | cleveland.com  The "Colorado would be a great place for a bounceback" line took a hit, as it has been revealed strong mutual interest between Sizemore and his former home.  Really, there's no place like home to rebuild your value.  At least the fans love him already.

Baseball players, owners reach agreement on five-year deal - The Denver Post  The new CBA should be in place within a week.

Rockies' Todd Helton "fine" with recovery of back in offseason - The Denver Post  Troy Renck reveals that Todd Helton was incapable of playing in September, something largely ignored since the Rockies were out of contention anyway.  Supposedly, his offseason has been pain free so far though.

Why Trade Martin Prado? | FanGraphs Baseball Jason Roberts questions the Braves dangling Prado out for trade.

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