Ranking The Rule 5 Options
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Lewis Thorpe, Nick Burdi, Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart, Jake Reed)As a reminder, there really are three criteria for who is eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not protected. Here is this year’s criteria:
- Players who signed when they were 18 or younger in 2013 (during the minor league season).
- Players who signed when they were 19 or older in 2014.
- Players who were eligible in previous seasons are also eligible again.
But going back to the players needing to be added or risk being lost to the Rule 5 draft, I’ll break them into categories. The Givens are players that I think have to be added or there is a high percentage that they will be selected. The next are players that are more On The Bubble. It will be interesting to see which of these guys are added. How many spots are available on the team’s 40-man roster, etc. The Next category are those players who probably won’t be added and yet do have a chance to be selected by the right team with the right need or the right report.
In early August, I had five names in this category. Since then, John Curtiss was added to the 40-man roster when he was recalled to the Twins late in the month.
- Stephen Gonsalves - The left-hander is the most obvious choice to add. He’s put up the numbers at each and every level. He has the make-up , and he has the pitches. He’s also ready, or very nearly ready, to pitch in the big leagues.
- Zack Littell - Littell’s prospect profile skyrocketed in 2017, both in his time in the Yankees organization and as he ended the season in the Chattanooga Lookouts rotation. He went 20-1 this season between three teams. He profiles as a potential mid-rotation starter.
- Jake Reed - After flying up the system in 2014, Reed has fought some control issues and a couple of injuries. He’s split the 2016 and 2017 seasons between AA and AAA. He’s got a fastball that moves like crazy and a slider that is sharp as well.
- Lewin Diaz - I had him as a Given before. I still think that he should be a given. With his size, power-potential, all-around hitting skill and maybe his ability at first base, he has a chance to be a really, really good player. He’s the kind of guy that you don’t want to risk losing. However, an argument could be made that he wouldn’t stick on a big league roster. He’ll turn 21 in November and hasn’t played above A ball. (But then again, players with this kind of upside, even if they’ve only played in Low A ball, get protected, so as I typed this I moved him back to the Given category.)
Again, this group is the players on the bubble. A couple of these players could be added, depending upon how many open spots they create and want to keep open. Since early August, Aaron Slegers and Gabriel Moya were called up. Both of them will likely remain on the 40-man roster this offseason.
- Lewis Thorpe - Thorpe has good stuff. He came back to pitch after missing over two seasons due to Tommy John surgery and a bout with mono. He had regained his low-90s (91-94) fastball and showed good secondary pitches. Other reports (maybe for medical reasons) are really the only thing that keep him from being a Given in my mind.
- Kohl Stewart - Stewart fought a knee injury that cost him quite a bit of time during the 2017 season. He has a powerful arm, and some really good stuff. He hasn’t been a big strikeout guy, but overall, he’s avoided hard contact and prevented runs. While he is on the bubble, his upside and potential make him a likely add, though the number of open spots will be a factor.
- Nick Burdi - When he was drafted in 2014, the idea of the team needing to make a 40-man roster decision on him three-and-a-half years later seemed silly. He and his triple-digit fastball were supposed to move quickly to the big leagues. It didn’t happen. He’s had bouts with control, and he’s had a couple of injuries. He was pitching great to start the 2017 season, but then we learned he had had Tommy John surgery. He won’t pitch until at least mid-season.With health, he’s a given to be added. But, would a team consider drafting him, knowing he’s had Tommy John surgery and the success rate of return? They could put him on their DL for as much of the season as needed, and then hide him the rest of the year. They’d likely have to keep him up part of the 2019 season as well.
- Luke Bard - Bard has been healthy for two straight seasons, and he’s pitched well. He does occasionally fight control issues, but he has missed a lot of bats. In 52.1 innings at Chattanooga, he walked 20 and struck out 78 (13.4 K/9). In his 13 innings in Rochester, he walked four and struck out 21 batters (14.5 K/9). Bard was the Twins third pick in the 2012 draft after Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios.
This is a group that has a few intriguing names. While they aren’t obvious choices, there could be a team that likes them enough to take a shot with a Rule 5 pick.
- Ryan Eades - The Twins second-round pick in 2013 out of LSU, Eades will turn 26 in mid-December. He was eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft last year and didn’t get taken, but he’s a season further along in his development and MLB readiness. He spent most of the season at AA Chattanooga, but in eight innings at Rochester, he gave up just one run. He’s got a good fastball, and he has all of the pitches. He’s just not been able to be consistent during his career. He is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League in front of scouts from all 30 MLB teams.
- Brian Navarreto - Navaretto was the Twins sixth-round pick in 2013 out of high school. While he hasn’t hit much during his pro career, most who have seen him behind the plate agree that he is an elite defensive catcher, blessed with a canon for an arm. In Royals terms, he looks (but doesn’t hit) like Salvador Perez, but defensively he’s there with Drew Butera.But if there is a team that values defense from catchers (like the Reds did with Stuart Turner a year ago), then the 22-year-old Navarreto could be selected.
- Mason Melotakis - The Twins were able to get Melotakis through waivers during the 2017 season. When he came back from Tommy John surgery, there were reports of him reaching into the upper-90s. In 2017, there were reports that he was barely hitting 90. But, he’s left-handed, and he’s another year post-Tommy John surgery. He also showed good success in Triple-A, so a team needing left-handed pitching might consider him ready enough to throw into their bullpen as a second or third left-hander.
Here is a list of other players who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft in the Twins organization. Since August, the Twins have released Amaurys Minier and Roni Tapia.
- Jhon Alvarez
- DJ Baxendale
- Cameron Booser
- Sam Clay
- Edgar Corcino
- Andro Cutura
- Eduardo Del Rosario
- Tanner English
- Edgar Herrera
- Zack Jones
- Randy LeBlanc
- Jose Martinez
- Nelson Molina
- Robert Molina
- Ariel Montesino
- Emmanuel Morel
- Alex Muren
- Max Murphy
- Callan Pearce
- Johan Quezada
- Williams Ramirez
- Rainis Silva
- Keaton Steele
- Todd Van Steensel
- Michael Theofanopoulos
- Ryan Walker
- TJ White