NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For the Mets, a calculated risk led to a loss of starting pitching depth. Faced with a 40-man roster crunch, New York left No. 19 prospect Matt Bowman unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft, then watched St. Louis snap him up Thursday with the 11th overall pick.
Bowman, the organization's 13th-round Draft pick in 2012, rapidly rose up the organization's depth chart before posting a 5.53 ERA this summer at Triple-A Las Vegas. He struck out just 77 batters in 140 innings, prompting the Mets to leave him unprotected. Per Rule 5 regulations, the Cardinals must keep Bowman on their active roster or big league disabled list all season, or offer him back to New York for $25,000.
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"He's a good pitcher," assistant general manager John Ricco said. "He had a little bit of a down year. I'm not surprised. In this Draft, he's the type of guy that had a down year. That's why we kept him off, and they think he can contribute. I'm not totally surprised, because they think he's a good pitcher."
Unlike last December, when they selected left-hander Sean Gilmartin in the Rule 5 Draft and stashed him in their bullpen all season, the Mets did not make any picks of their own on Thursday. They did, however, avoid watching some of their unprotected players -- most notably No. 12 prospect Wuilmer Becerra, a 21-year-old whose significant upside has yet to boost him past Class A ball -- go elsewhere.
"Each year, you do an analysis and there's a lot of risk with certain guys," Ricco said. "But certainly the lower-level guys have a tough time, history has shown, sticking in the big leagues. There are calculated risks you take, and that was one of them."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.