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Ask Baseball America - The Rule 5 Draft and Max Kepler

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#1 Steve Lein

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 08:45 AM

I saw this topic being discussed in the Forums a while back, and I don't think anybody had a clear idea about the rules for how players are protected from the Minor League phases of the Rule 5 Draft, so I asked Baseball America.

They didn't include all of my questions about how it works, but is a good look at how teams approach a situation such as Kepler's:

Ask BA: How Do The Minor League Phases Of The Rule 5 Draft Work? - BaseballAmerica.com

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 40, Speed: 40. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but can sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#2 gunnarthor

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 09:20 AM

I think this would be more interesting if it was the 2010 Twins instead. That team might not have had a lot of room to play with the 40 man roster. But this team can afford to protect Kepler and just lose an option year. They'll also have the AFL season to look at him first. I think they'll protect him just in case and hope he can get to AA next year. But if they don't protect him, I do think the Astros would risk taking him.

#3 Steve Lein

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 09:43 AM

Ya, I don't see a reason why the Twins can't, or wouldn't want, to put him on their 40-man roster to protect him. Just is weird having a guy that is only going to be in A-ball there.

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 40, Speed: 40. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but can sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#4 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 09:52 AM

It's not that weird. Happens all every couple of years, obviously with an international signing, someone who signed at 16 and took a couple of years to develop into what he can become.

Another reminder too, Jeremy's Rosters & Payrolls link on the front page of Twins Daily includes a column for when players are eligible for the Rule 5 draft and can become milb free agents and such.

#5 nicksaviking

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 09:54 AM

Nice work, you didn't just get a question answered, you got BA to write a whole damn article on the minor league Rule V draft, something that is not all that well known.

Just spitballing, I would think the odds of Kepler getting picked are probably around 10%. Two years ago I would have said zero but between the clear tank/rebuild jobs by Houston and Miami, the Cubs interest in any high level prospect of any kind and the White Sox terrible roster and even more terrible farm outlook, I think there are enough wild cards to guarantee his safety.

So I'd add him if it is only going to cost the spot of a Wilkin Rameriz, Cole DeVries or even a Pedro Hernandez.

#6 nicksaviking

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 09:58 AM

Ya, I don't see a reason why the Twins can't, or wouldn't want, to put him on their 40-man roster to protect him. Just is weird having a guy that is only going to be in A-ball there.


I think the Twins oddly had Deibinson Romero on the 40-man when he was in Ft. Myers. I don't think he was at New Britain when they added him. I don't know what team they thought would steal him, but that might be a good indicator regarding their intentions with Kepler.

#7 golfboy1

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 10:13 AM

Nice work, you didn't just get a question answered, you got BA to write a whole damn article on the minor league Rule V draft, something that is not all that well known.

Just spitballing, I would think the odds of Kepler getting picked are probably around 10%. Two years ago I would have said zero but between the clear tank/rebuild jobs by Houston and Miami, the Cubs interest in any high level prospect of any kind and the White Sox terrible roster and even more terrible farm outlook, I think there are enough wild cards to guarantee his safety.

So I'd add him if it is only going to cost the spot of a Wilkin Rameriz, Cole DeVries or even a Pedro Hernandez.


I wouldn't add him. Houston, Miami & the Cubs have plenty of their own prospects to protect. I guess the White Sox could find a spot for him but he has zero chance of doing anything for the year except take up a roster spot & truthfully, he isn't that great of a prospect. At least with a power arm, you can use them occasionally.

The main reason I wouldn't add him isn't for this year but down the road. What happens in 3 years when he runs out of options? You have no choice but to keep him on the team or risk losing him. I don't see his development path being so fast that he will be ready to stay on the ML roster for good in that time frame. Better off taking a very small risk now & gaining the extra year later. IMHO

I agree, they should have plenty of open spots so that really isn't the main concern.

#8 Steve Lein

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 10:25 AM

It's not that weird. Happens all every couple of years, obviously with an international signing, someone who signed at 16 and took a couple of years to develop into what he can become.

Another reminder too, Jeremy's Rosters & Payrolls link on the front page of Twins Daily includes a column for when players are eligible for the Rule 5 draft and can become milb free agents and such.


I know it happens, but it really isn't that common, that's why I say it's weird. As nicksaviking says, they did have Romero protected like that, I know there has been a few others recently, but can't think of the names off the top of my head, Estarlin De Los Santos maybe? But it also wastes that players option years while he is toiling away at lower levels, so it's an interesting point to consider in his case where he isn't that far along. He could potentially be out of options already by the time he even is considered for a callup.

I also had questions about when a player had to be added to the AA or AAA reserve rosters to be protected from the MiLB phases, but they left those out. Not sure if it works where they have to be put on one of those rosters before those 4 or 5 years from when drafted/signed kicks in for the MLB phase eligibility, or if they aren't eligible for anything in the Rule 5, major or minor league phases, until those years are up. I would think it is the latter, but have seen the former mentioned around here too.

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 40, Speed: 40. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but can sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#9 golfboy1

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 10:35 AM

I just looked up the last 5 years of Rule V selections. It's an overwhelming number of pitchers that get selected. There have been 63 pitchers taken & only 6 OF in the last 5 years. I don't think any of the OF amounted to anything so far. Of course, not a large % of any of the picks work out but there are a few pitchers who have at least had some success...including Scott Diamond & Ryan Pressley.

I'd put the chance that Kepler gets picked at < 1% & even then there is a good chance he might get returned.

#10 nicksaviking

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 10:44 AM

I also had questions about when a player had to be added to the AA or AAA reserve rosters to be protected from the MiLB phases, but they left those out. Not sure if it works where they have to be put on one of those rosters before those 4 or 5 years from when drafted/signed kicks in for the MLB phase eligibility, or if they aren't eligible for anything in the Rule 5, major or minor league phases, until those years are up. I would think it is the latter, but have seen the former mentioned around here too.


What I took from the article is that there may not be a time requirement for the minor league portion. Being able to protect 78 in the AAA portion and 113 in the AA would lead me to believe that time is not a factor. Otherwise teams just wouldn't have a need anywhere close to 113 spots as most minor leaguers wouldn't be eligible due to due to only being in pro ball for a year or two.

#11 Steve Lein

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 10:46 AM

^ That is very true.

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 40, Speed: 40. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but can sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#12 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 10:55 AM

I think the Twins oddly had Deibinson Romero on the 40-man when he was in Ft. Myers. I don't think he was at New Britain when they added him. I don't know what team they thought would steal him, but that might be a good indicator regarding their intentions with Kepler.


Romero just finished a season in Beloit when he was added. It was after a season in Beloit in which he played just 40 games due to a couple of freak injuries (I recall one was a knee injury after catching a pop-up near the dugout).

#13 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 10:58 AM

I just looked up the last 5 years of Rule V selections. It's an overwhelming number of pitchers that get selected. There have been 63 pitchers taken & only 6 OF in the last 5 years. I don't think any of the OF amounted to anything so far. Of course, not a large % of any of the picks work out but there are a few pitchers who have at least had some success...including Scott Diamond & Ryan Pressley.

I'd put the chance that Kepler gets picked at < 1% & even then there is a good chance he might get returned.


It is overwhelmingly pitchers, but that's somewhat misleading as well from this standpoint... We can't show who was added. Teams may add all of the position players that they consider possibly lost in the Rule 5, and there are so many more pitchers in the minor leagues.

#14 Seth Stohs

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 10:59 AM

I would be shocked if the Twins don't add Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler. They're both no-brainers in my mind, especially considering they have so many players that will (or could) come off of the current 40 man.

#15 amjgt

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 11:08 AM

I'm kind of with golfboy1.

Is Kepler really that great of a prospect? He's not a teenager any more but he seems to still get a pass as a youngster. Meanwhile, at the same level that Kepler ended at, you've got Adam Walker crushing it, but he's "old" for the level (he's only a year and a half older than Kepler)

If the argument is "with the junk on our 40 man roster, why take the 1% chance that he gets taken," I suppose I can listen to that, but as was also point out, we start burning through options for a guy who's probably going to finish next year at Single A.

#16 Rosterman

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 11:10 AM

We talk about the vultures of rebuilding teams grabbing Rule 5 guys (the Twins could be in that situation, too). The Twins, alone, could have up to 16 spots to fill with their own and prospects from other organizations. That is a lot. But come next year, the Twins may be hard-pressed to find more than 10 spots for the next round of prospects, and the year after that business as normal. Houston and Florida would both have to let some guys slide if they wanted to take a gamble on a lower prospect like Kepler. Is he worth a 25-man spot. Is he worth a year of service. Again, the Arizona League performance will play well for Kepler. It is a gamble the Twins must take, and also shows the new way draftees will be viewed now and in the futre. Can a team afford to not protect anyone that they have invested millions in signing bonus money to, or do they keep them in the fringe on the back of their mind and flip them in a trade. The future of baseball will revolve around teams not able to keep ALL their highly signed picks. Like Meyer...the Twins grabbed him for Span. They didn't have to sign him. They got to watch him develop a bit in anotehr team's organization. They traded a bluechip for a future chip and got to get their own draft pick signed, also, in the process.
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#17 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 11:32 AM

Ya, I don't see a reason why the Twins can't, or wouldn't want, to put him on their 40-man roster to protect him. Just is weird having a guy that is only going to be in A-ball there.


I see a big reason... options.

If they put him on the 40 man, they essentially have to have him in the bigs for good in 3 seasons. Given that he's in A- ball, and didn't exactly do well there, he'd be at best in AA for 2015 and AAA in 2016, his final option year. That makes 2017 a sink or swim year vs. not protecting him for a season and then protecting him next year after completing (hopefully) A+ ball.

#18 Nick Nelson

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 11:52 AM

I can't see anyone plucking a 20-year-old in Low-A who can't hit LHP. Then again, I've heard a lot of really good reports on this kid going beyond his production on the field.

The options concern is a legit one.

#19 Steve Lein

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 12:29 PM

I'm kind of with golfboy1.

Is Kepler really that great of a prospect? He's not a teenager any more but he seems to still get a pass as a youngster. Meanwhile, at the same level that Kepler ended at, you've got Adam Walker crushing it, but he's "old" for the level (he's only a year and a half older than Kepler)


The argument with Walker isn't that he is "old" for the level. It's the fact that he had 3 full seasons of college ball under his belt when he was drafted, and 3 very good college seasons at that. I'm in the camp he never should have been in the Low-A Midwest League, and should have crushed the pitching he was seeing there like he did because he is more advanced than that.

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 40, Speed: 40. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but can sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#20 Steve Lein

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 12:30 PM

I see a big reason... options.

If they put him on the 40 man, they essentially have to have him in the bigs for good in 3 seasons. Given that he's in A- ball, and didn't exactly do well there, he'd be at best in AA for 2015 and AAA in 2016, his final option year. That makes 2017 a sink or swim year vs. not protecting him for a season and then protecting him next year after completing (hopefully) A+ ball.


I already addressed that fact. It's definitely something to consider, but don't think it stops the Twins from adding him.

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 40, Speed: 40. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but can sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#21 darin617

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 01:53 PM

Ya, I don't see a reason why the Twins can't, or wouldn't want, to put him on their 40-man roster to protect him. Just is weird having a guy that is only going to be in A-ball there.


Why do you want the Twins to change the way they handle their prospects? Usually by the time a player that was drafted reaches AAA he is 26 and makes his pro debut at 28. Too bad we can't learn anything from Tampa and draft some quality arms.

#22 ScottyB

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 07:40 PM

I think I'd wait as long as possible to add his name to the 40-man. He'd be my last option. I'd be more inclined to add him to the AAA protected to not lose him in the minor league phase and not have to lose an option. I'm trying to remember about Romero. Once he was taken off the 40-man, did the option clock re-set? In other words, if he is added once again to the 40-man, will he have less than 3 options?

#23 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 07:55 PM

I think I'd wait as long as possible to add his name to the 40-man. He'd be my last option. I'd be more inclined to add him to the AAA protected to not lose him in the minor league phase and not have to lose an option. I'm trying to remember about Romero. Once he was taken off the 40-man, did the option clock re-set? In other words, if he is added once again to the 40-man, will he have less than 3 options?


Options are options. He had a year where he was on an optional assignment, so he has two left.

#24 Thrylos

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 08:16 PM

I would be shocked if the Twins don't add Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler. They're both no-brainers in my mind, especially considering they have so many players that will (or could) come off of the current 40 man.


I would actually be shocked if they did so... All they need to do is to add them to the AAA roster to protect them from the MiLB portion of the draft. Very low probability that they are taken in the MLB portion. Extremely low. They need to protect other players (pitchers) who may be taken and probably need about 5 spots for real talent at the MLB level.
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#25 twinsfan34

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 08:34 PM

I would actually be shocked if they did so... All they need to do is to add them to the AAA roster to protect them from the MiLB portion of the draft. Very low probability that they are taken in the MLB portion. Extremely low. They need to protect other players (pitchers) who may be taken and probably need about 5 spots for real talent at the MLB level.


I agree with Seth. I'd be shocked if they didn't put Santana and Kepler on the 40-man roster for 2014.

If Clete Thomas can get 250+ ABs on our team, we have room for Kepler. He doesn't have to be in the bigs. Just means there's the 3 year window.

Leave Thomas, Mastrioanni, Parmalee, Ramirez, and Presley off the 40-man. They've already proven they can't contribute much at the major league level.

And btw, Santana was already on the 40-man for 2013.

40-Man Roster | twinsbaseball.com: Team

#26 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 08:46 PM

And btw, Santana was already on the 40-man for 2013.

40-Man Roster | twinsbaseball.com: Team


He was talking about Polanco.

Polanco gets added before Kepler. But I think Kepler gets protected too... even though he won't get drafted.

#27 righty8383

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 11:45 PM

I'm not concerned about the options. If he's not ready to stick in the ML after 3 years, he probably wasn't as good as we all hoped anyways. And just because he is expected to start next year in Fort Myers, a player of his age and perceived ability should be able to start climbing the ladder more than one level per season. So we can figure out what to do about that if/when the time comes. I would add him for the aforementioned reason that there will be plenty of spots available.

#28 TRex

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 12:46 AM

...not to mention that the decision doesn't have to be made until after we see how he does against the tougher competition in the AFL. If he does really well, some team would definitely take the risk. If he is over his head, maybe he wouldn't be completely ready by 2017 anyway. But even Denard Span, who seemingly took forever to develop, was 'ready' at 24 (though the Twins sent him down for what I believe was an arbitration clock adjustment).

#29 gunnarthor

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 12:09 PM

Houston could easily afford to give a guy like Kepler a bunch of ML at bats and have him learn on the job. They're openly tanking.

I guess it would be what their scouts think but if they say something like - love this guy, great body, good work ethic, fast learner, just needs time, I think Houston bites.

#30 spycake

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 12:14 PM

The main reason I wouldn't add him isn't for this year but down the road. What happens in 3 years when he runs out of options? You have no choice but to keep him on the team or risk losing him.


That's a good problem to have. It's kinda like delaying service time -- if the guy is good enough that you're still talking about him 3+ years down the road, burning an option year or giving him a month extra service time will be very small potatoes.

If they like Kepler now, or even if they are down on him at the moment but liked him recently, they would be pretty foolish to risk losing him for a 40-man roster spot, particularly given the current construction of the 40-man roster.