On Tuesday, all 30 Major League organizations made decisions about who belonged on their 40-man rosters. With limited space, not all prospect were able to be protected.
Those Minor Leaguers who were not put on a 40-man roster are now eligible to be taken by the other 29 teams in the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas on Thursday, Dec. 13.
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn’t stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.
For this year, that means an international or high school Draft pick signed in 2014 — assuming he was 18 or younger as of June 5 of that year — has to be protected. A college player taken in the 2015 Draft is in the same position.
Who are the most intriguing candidates to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft? Here is one possibility from each organization.
Luis Gonzalez, LHP, Orioles No. 29
Gonzalez, 26, was excellent in his first Double-A exposure, posting a 2.17 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings in the Eastern League, but didn’t fare nearly as well after a midseason promotion to Triple-A. The left-hander has a strong track record of being effective against both left- (.229/.288/.393 in 2018) and right-handed (.206/.288/.285) batters, thanks to a three-pitch mix that includes a fastball in the low 90s, a slider in the upper 80s and a solid changeup.
Josh Ockimey, 1B, Red Sox No. 10
Ockimey has one of the best combinations of raw power and patience in Boston’s system, though his career 28 percent strikeout rate and limited athleticism are significant draWBAcks. His weaknesses were more apparent than his strengths in his recent Arizona Fall League stint.
Dermis Garcia, 1B/3B, Yankees No. 27
Garcia earned a $3 million bonus when he signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, because he has massive raw power. The downside is that he doesn’t have much hittability or athleticism, so New York has begun to explore using him on the mound, where he has shown a mid-90s fastball.
Kean Wong, 2B, Rays
The Rays opted to promote Brandon Lowe from Triple-A Durham late last season instead of Wong, so it shouldn’t come as a total surprise that the club left him off the 40-man roster. Still, the 23-year-old second baseman was productive in his first full Triple-A campaign, hitting .282/.345/.406 with a career-high nine homers and 23 doubles. He won’t hit for much power and has a swing-heavy approach that limits his on-base potential, but there’s plenty to like in his knack for making hard contact.
Forrest Wall, OF, Blue Jays No. 25
Acquired along with Chad Spanberger from the Rockies at the most recent non-waiver Trade Deadline for Seunghwan Oh, Wall, 23, could make for an interesting Rule 5 pick provided a team believes he can hit enough to stick on a roster. Wall’s plus speed continues to be his calling card, as he stole a career-high 38 bases this past season while also proving he can play center field after beginning his career as a second baseman. That could earn him consideration as a fourth outfielder, and there are some evaluators who believe the left-handed hitter has untapped offensive potential.
Spencer Adams, RHP, White Sox No. 26
Adams looked like a potential steal when Chicago grabbed him in the second round of the 2014 Draft, making an immediate impression with his athleticism and advanced pitchability. But his projectability never translated into frontline stuff, so he doesn’t miss many bats and has been easy prey for left-handers.
Oscar Gonzalez, OF, Indians No. 22
Gonzalez is a bit of a long shot to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft, considering he’s a 20-year-old with only one full season of Class A experience, but he has the type of robust right-handed power and enough feel to hit (as well as a 70-grade arm in right field) to possibly check the right boxes for some teams. He led the Rookie-level Arizona League in both home runs (eight) and slugging percentage (.566) en route to the MVP honors in 2016, and he clubbed 13 homers with 25 doubles this past season in the Midwest League.
Tyler Alexander, LHP, Tigers No. 24
On the plus side, Alexander spent most of the 2018 season in Triple-A. On the negative side, his performance was uneven (4.79 ERA). He never hurts himself with walks (1.4 BB/9 in his career), but he has to learn how to throw more quality strikes (10 H/9) in order to get big league hitters out.
Foster Griffin, LHP, Royals No. 29
Kansas City hasn’t had much success developing highly drafted high school arms in recent years, with Griffin (first round, No. 28 overall in 2014) one such example. His stuff hasn’t improved as hoped, leaving his changeup as his lone above-average pitch, and he’s simply a strike-thrower who gets hit hard.
Tyler Jay, LHP, Twins No. 22
The No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, Jay was a closer at Illinois who began his pro career as a starter. While he did reach Double-A, injuries were a problem, and he’s been back in the bullpen since ’17. He had an up-and-down ’18 in Double-A, but he is a lefty with a chance to be more than a two-pitch reliever.
Riley Ferrell, RHP, Astros No. 17
Ferrell got lit up for a 6.75 ERA following his promotion to Triple-A in late June, but his pure stuff make him an enticing prospect for the Rule 5 Draft. He has a mid-90s fastball with late life and a mid-80s slider that can be unhittable at times, though he needs to throw more strikes.
Luis Pena, RHP, Angels No. 18
Pena began his career as a reliever, but he settled into a starting role in 2016 and made it all the way to Triple-A in ’18, with mixed results. He misses bats (9.6 K/9 in his career), but has struggled with command. A team looking at him in the Rule 5 would likely let his sinking fastball and slider play out of the bullpen.
Richie Martin, SS, A’s No. 12
One of the more interesting names for this year’s Rule 5 Draft, Martin has long stood out for his plus defense since the A’s made him their first-round pick (No. 20 overall) in the 2015 Draft. However, it wasn’t until this past season that the 23-year-old put it together at the plate, as he hit .300/.368/.439 with 43 extra-base hits and 25 stolen bases.
Art Warren, RHP, Mariners No. 17
After a breakout performance in the 2017 Arizona Fall League, Warren looked like a candidate to pitch in the big leagues in ’18. Instead, he made just 14 appearances and spent much of the season on the disabled list with shoulder trouble. When healthy, the 25-year-old right-hander has shown a 94-98 mph fastball with a swing-and-miss slider — as well as feel for a curveball and changeup — that could make him a late-inning bullpen option for many teams.
Michael Matuella, RHP, Rangers
A strong candidate to go No. 1 overall in the 2015 Draft, Matuella instead blew out his elbow, had Tommy John surgery and slid to Texas in the third round (where he still landed a $2 million bonus). He’ll still flash power stuff but continues to battle his health, control and command — and he logged an 8.24 ERA in high Class A this year.
Josh Graham, RHP, Braves No. 28
Graham didn’t fare well at the start of 2018 in Double-A, but righted the ship when he was sent down a level and pitched better upon his return late in the year. He misses bats (10.3 K/9 in his career), albeit with command issues (4.1 BB/9), but has an upper-90s fastball and solid slider that could work in a big league bullpen.
Christopher Torres, SS/2B, Marlins No. 18
Torres, 20, has struggled to stay healthy and will enter the Rule 5 Draft with just 30 games of full-season experience, but his raw tools are exciting and give him a high ceiling as a switch-hitting middle infielder. He batted .256/.389/.350 with five extra-base hits in 39 games this past season across three levels after the Marlins acquired him from Seattle in the offseason in the Dee Gordon trade.
David Thompson, 3B, Mets No. 21
After two solid full seasons of pro ball, Thompson’s 2018 was a lost year because of injuries. He was limited to just 25 games, mostly in Triple-A, and didn’t play after mid-June. There is some right-handed pop he can tap into, and while he’s been a third baseman in pro ball, he can also play first.
Tom Eshelman, RHP, Phillies No. 27
The control artist had a huge 2017, mostly in Triple-A, but then regressed horribly in ’18. There isn’t much margin for error stuff-WISe, but he is very good at making adjustments, doesn’t hurt himself with walks (2.1 career BB/9 rate) and has topped 140 innings two years in a row.
Telmito Agustin, OF, Nationals No. 13
Agustin is entering his age-22 season and has yet to play in a game at the Double-A level, but he’s also coming off of his best Minor League campaign, having hit .302/.368/.454 with 18 extra-base hits (five homers) and seven steals in 63 games at Class A Advanced Potomac. It’s an interesting profile, because he has solid hitting ability to go along with some untapped power from the left side of the plate.
Jhonny Pereda, C, Cubs No. 20
Chicago is bullish on Pereda, but gambled that no one will take a catcher who hasn’t played above high Class A and set career highs with eight homers and a .710 OPS this season. The Cubs believe he’ll continue to improve offensively, and they like the progress he’s made defensively.
Michael Beltre, OF, Reds No. 22
The toolsy outfielder rebounded from a rough introduction to full-season ball in 2017 by earning a promotion up to the Class A Advanced Florida State League in ’18, finishing with a.278/.397/.402 line and 22 steals. It would be a large leap, but his tools plus his approach at the plate could play.
Jake Gatewood, 1B, Brewers No. 10
Gatewood’s surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee last July will cost him much of the 2019 season, but it also makes him an attractive Rule 5 pick as a potential disabled-list stash option. The 23-year-old first baseman’s monster power has been his carrying tool since his days as a prep slugger, and there’s a strong chance that it will translate in the Major Leagues. Whether he can make consistent contact and get on base at reasonable clip at the highest level is a major question mark, but he definitely has the type of plus-plus raw power and advantageous roster status that teams covet.
Brandon Waddell, LHP, Pirates No. 24
Waddell has been a bit enigmatic, spending most of his first full season in Double-A, but then getting stuck there for most of three seasons. He did make it to Triple-A in 2018 and pitched well in the second half (3.00 ERA in 10 starts). While he was effective in relief in the AFL in 2017, he profiles more as a back-end starter, stuff-WISe.
Junior Fernandez, RHP, Cardinals No. 14
The right-hander has long tantalized with premium velocity, often touching 98-99 mph, to go along with a changeup that flashes plus. He’s had trouble staying healthy, commanding the Baseball and sharpening his breaking ball, though he did move to the bullpen in 2018. His fastball-changeup combination could be enough to entice a team to take a chance in the Rule 5 Draft.
Alex Young, LHP, D-backs No. 22
Perhaps Arizona’s No. 7 prospect, Marcus Wilson, is the more exciting name, but Young has a better chance to be selected. The southpaw spent most of 2018 in Triple-A, though he struggled there. He doesn’t necessarily have the splits to be a lefty specialist, but Young has proven to be durable, and he could fill a back-end rotation spot or serve as a swingman.
Breiling Eusebio, LHP, Rockies No. 19
Eusebio entered 2018 as Colorado’s top lefty pitching prospect, but he made just three starts before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. When healthy, he featured a 92-96 mph fastball with sink and a curveball with power and depth. A team could pluck him in the Rule 5 Draft and stash him on its disabled list for a while.
Cristian Santana, 3B/1B, Dodgers No. 24
With 40-man space at a premium, Los Angeles couldn’t find a spot for Santana despite his 24-homer season in high Class A at age 21. While he’ll have to tone down his aggressiveness at the plate, he offers an intriguing combination of power, arm strength and defensive versatility.
Michael Gettys, OF, Padres
In his first Double-A season, Gettys, The Padres’ second-round pick in 2014, hit 15 homers with 17 steals but batted just .230 over 125 games with 160 strikeouts, the second-highest total in the Texas League. Though Gettys has a solid floor thanks to his combination of right-handed raw power, above-average speed and plus defense in center field, his ongoing struggles in refining his approach and trimming his perennially high strikeout rate will be enough to make some teams think twice.
Sandro Fabian, OF, Giants No. 8
Fabian has some of the best upside in San Francisco’s system, and he is one of the Giants’ best position prospects, but it’s a safe gamble to leave him unprotected, because he’s not anywhere close to ready for the big leagues after batting .200/.260/.325 in high Class A at age 20. That line belies his bat-to-ball skills and power potential, and he also is a quality right fielder with a strong arm.