The deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters in anticipation of the Rule 5 draft was Friday, November 18th. This means that all Rule 5 eligible players who are not currently on a 40-man roster will be available in the draft on December 8th. Here’s what makes a player Rule 5 eligible, according to MLB.com:
Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years.
For the coming version of the Rule 5 draft, that’s generally any player drafted out of college in 2013 or earlier, drafted out of high school in 2012 or earlier, or signed as an international free agent in 2012 or earlier. That’s just a rule of thumb, but since very few things in life are simple, there are exceptions and loopholes.
Most of the players listed below aren’t good prospects. If they were, their former teams would have protected them — or traded them to a team with an interest in stashing them. The baseball industry has effectively deemed each of these players to be a fringe prospect at best. Who cares about these mostly bad baseball players? Probably a very tiny sliver of the world’s population, if I’m being honest. But if you you’re still reading, I’m willing to bet you’re part of that small minority. And besides, several Rule 5 picks from recent memory have enjoyed immediate big-league success, including Joe Biagini, Matt Bowman and Odubel Herrera.
Below, you’ll find a list of KATOH‘s favorite Rule 5-eligible prospects, grouped by position. Due to the aforementioned loopholes, along with the fact that I checked each player’s eligibility manually, it’s possible I omitted a noteworthy player along the way. All players with at least 200 professional plate appearances or batters faced in 2016 were considered. Note that KATOH denotes the relevant player’s WAR projection over his first six major-league seasons, while KATOH+ denotes the same thing while also accounting for the player’s place (or not) among Baseball America’s top-100 rankings.
|Justin Haley||Red Sox||AAA||1.9||1.8|
|Daniel Gonzalez||Red Sox||A||1.8||1.7|
- Mike Hauschild pitched well at Triple-A last year, turning in a 3.22 ERA and 3.64 FIP over 24 starts. Getting big-league hitters out can’t be that much different than doing so in Triple-A, can it?
- Armed with a double-plus name, Nabil Crismatt pitched to a 2.47 ERA and 2.68 FIP last year, thanks to a stunning 74:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Most of that came in the lower rungs of A-ball, but he also dominated in his lone Double-A start in September.
- A former 20th-round pick, Tim Peterson has been frustrating low minors hitters for years. He pitched to a 2.46 FIP between High-A and Double-A last year, striking out over one-third of batters faced.
- Nothing stands out about 25-year-old Justin Haley, but he was quietly very good as a starter in the high minors last year. In 147 innings, he turned in a 3.01 ERA and 3.33 FIP, with most of that coming at Triple-A.
- The son of John, Luke Farrell has pitched acceptably in the high minors each of the last two seasons. KATOH likes his decent strikeout numbers and his 6-foot-6 frame.
- Minor-league relievers approaching 30 years old aren’t usually worth caring about, Armando Rivero might be. He was crazy-dominant at the Triple-A level last year, posting a 2.13 ERA and 37% strikeout rate.
|Angel Perdomo||Blue Jays||A||3.0||2.6|
|Dedgar Jimenez||Red Sox||A+||1.6||1.5|
- As a 22-year-old who’s yet to pitch above A-ball, Angel Perdomo is seemingly eons from the major leagues. But his 2.89 FIP and 29% strikeout rate at Low-A last year suggests the 6-foot-6 lefty has a bright future ahead of him. Perhaps some team will try to stash him as a third lefty and/or long man.
- The Brewers selected Wei-Chung Wang out of Rookie ball in the Rule 5 back in 2013 and managed to retain his rights. They left the 24-year-old unprotected this year, however, despite his 3.38 FIP as a starter in the upper levels.
- Jason Wheeler has never been particularly dominant in the minors and is already 26. But a 3.60 FIP as a starter in Triple-A isn’t shabby, and KATOH likes that he’s 6-foot-6.
- Another 6-foot-6, 26-year-old lefty, Tyler Webb struck out 27% of opposing hitters and posted a 2.76 FIP as a swing man in Triple-A last year.
|Jeremy Dowdy||White Sox||AAA||1.7||1.8|
- Tyler Heineman hit .259/.344/.351 at Triple-A this past year while logging 63 games behind the plate. Heineman’s short on power, but the switch-hitter’s contact-oriented approach has resulted in decent OBPs in the upper levels. Furthermore, both Clay Davenport and Baseball Prospectus rate him as a very good defensive catcher.
- Andy Paz has been kicking around Oakland’s system since 2011 without garnering much attention. He enjoyed something of an offensive breakout last year, though, when he slashed .303/.372/.389 — with most of that coming at Double-A. Paz’s power is minimal, but he controls the strike zone well and is still just 23. The metrics rated him as a merely average defender at Double-A last year.
- Jin-De Jhang slashed .298/.338/.383 as a 23-year-old at Double-A last year, powered by a superb 6% strikeout rate. Jhang doesn’t have much power, nor does he draw walks, but his contact rate suggests he might hit enough to get by at catcher. The metrics aren’t particularly fond of his defense, however, which might make this entire blurb moot.
- Taylor Davis hit a respectable .251/.341/.345 at Triple-A, while walking more than he struck out. This is the third year in a row he’s succeeded offensively in the upper levels, so the fact that no team’s given him a shot may be telling. Indeed, the metrics aren’t crazy about his defense.
- A Fringe Five regular, Sherman Johnson‘s positional flexibility and control of the strike zone are intriguing. Though he hit just .226/.332/.345 at Triple-A, his .265 BABIP is partly to blame. On the downside, the metrics don’t particularly like him at second base.
- Allen Cordoba is just 20 years old, and is coming off of a .362/.427/.495 season with 22 steals in Rookie ball. It’s probably safe to conclude that Córdoba is not ready for the show, but he’s clearly quite talented for his age. Perhaps some team will roll the dice, hoping his speed, defense and contact-oriented approach would make him a passable, utility infielder in 2017.
- Another Fringe Five guy, Tim Locastro‘s made extreme amounts of contact in the minors while simultaneously playing shortstop. He’s light on tools, but could conceivably make for a decent utility infielder as soon as this year.
- The Cardinals recently singed Wilfredo Tovar as a minor-league free-agent, but since he’s not on their 40-man, he’s eligible for the Rule 5. He hit just .249/.301/.327 at the Triple-A level, but made a lot of contact and did damage on the bases. More importantly, though, he played a solid shortstop: Davenport had him at eight runs above average at shortstop in each of the last two years. His defense seems to be big-league quality, and given his contact skills, he probably wouldn’t embarrass himself at the plate.
- Eric Stamets isn’t much of a hitter, but the metrics like what he’s done at shortstop in the upper levels. He added some power to his game last season, though it came at the expense of his strikeout rate.
- Matt Williams was born in 1989, making him a senior citizen by prospect standards, but he hit a respectable .263/.355/.346 in Triple-A while playing mostly shortstop. It isn’t too much of a stretch to envision Williams hitting enough to make for a passable utility guy.
|Nick Delmonico||White Sox||AAA||4.1||2.8|
|Jantzen Witte||Red Sox||AAA||2.0||1.8|
- Nick Delmonico hit a powerful .279/.347/.490 between Double-A and Triple-A last year, splitting time between first, third and right field. The metrics generally like his defense at third, but the White Sox seemingly don’t based on their usage patterns. Regardless, some team might find use for his bat.
- The Yankees signed Mike Ford as an undrafted free agent out of Princeton in 2013 and he hasn’t stopped raking. He hit .280/.417/.455 at Double-A last year and walked more than he struck out. Ford could probably approximate a league-average batting line this year, which would outperform more first basemen than you’d think.
- Jantzen Witte slashed .268/.341/.379 as a 26-year-old in the high minors. He doesn’t hit many dingers, but has doubles power and gets on base. He moved back to third last year after spending the last two seasons as a first baseman, but the metrics were unimpressed.
- O’Koyea Dickson hit .328/.398/.596 in Triple-A last year. Yes, it was the PCL; and yes, he’s an undersized 27-year-old without a position. But still: Dickson might be able to help some teams’ first-base and/or designated-hitter situations.
|Mel Rojas Jr.||Braves||AAA||2.6||2.6|
- The son of
Han SoloRed Sox executive Frank Wren, Kyle Wren slashed .322/.412/.412 between Double-A and Triple-A. He also swiped 29 bases and played all three outfield spots. Wren doesn’t hit for much power but does just about everything else well. Frankly, I’m surprised a player of Wren’s caliber went unprotected.
- John Andreoli hit .256/.374/.396 at Triple-A last year while stealing 43 bags and playing primarily center field. Andreoli’s low-contact ways may prevent a seamless transition offensively, but his speed and defense alone could make an impact.
- Johnny Field hit .273/.322/.453 in the upper levels, while playing primarily center field. Field is relatively short and has some trouble making contact, but he’s only 24 and has demonstrated an interesting power-speed combo the last couple of years.
- Jeff McVaney hit .291/.402/.457 in the high minors last year, while posting positive defensive metrics in right field. McVaney had one of those rare seasons where he walked more than he struck out while also hitting for power.
- Mel Rojas Jr. got off to a rough start last year but hit .280/.351/.489 with double-digit homers and steals after joining the Braves Triple-A affiliate in late-June. Rojas is already 26 but has succeeded in Triple-A and can play all three outfield spots.
- Franmil Reyes, Carlos Tocci and Jairo Beras all have interesting prospect profiles, but none of that trio has played above A-ball. While they have promise, they don’t appear to be particularly close to the big leagues, making them unlikely Rule 5 picks.