Toolshed: Top 2016 picks meet Rule 5 protection
Next Friday will be an important day on any prospect lover's calendar. Nov. 20 is the date by which Major League clubs have to add eligible players to their 40-man rosters or leave them unprotected for this year's Rule 5 Draft, which will take place on Dec. 10. Rule 5-eligible
Next Friday will be an important day on any prospect lover's calendar.
Nov. 20 is the date by which Major League clubs have to add eligible players to their 40-man rosters or leave them unprotected for this year's Rule 5 Draft, which will take place on Dec. 10. Rule 5-eligible players include those signed at age 18 or younger who have been in pro ball at least five seasons or those signed at 19 or older who have been in pro ball at least four seasons. Even though there wasn't a Minor League season in 2020, this calendar year still counted as one of those four or five seasons necessary for Rule 5 eligibility.
For those yet to do the math, that means most high schoolers selected in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft will be eligible for this year's Rule 5 Draft. The 2016 class is especially interesting to look back on now, specifically when it came to prep picks. Not much had come out of the early selections until
This edition of Toolshed revisits high schoolers taken in the first round and Competitive Balance Round A of the 2016 Draft and evaluates the chances they will be added to their organization's 40-man rosters ahead of the deadline. (A more in-depth team-by-team Rule 5 protection preview will come Tuesday.)
Chances: 15 percent
Reasoning: Moniak and Anderson made their Major League debuts in 2020, leaving Pint as the top prep pick from 2016 who has yet to be placed on a 40-man roster. To put it lightly, it's been a rough four years for the former Kansas high schooler. A forearm strain and oblique injury limited him to only 26 innings combined between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. When he did pitch, he walked 42 batters over those 26 frames that include a move to the bullpen at Class A Asheville in the latter campaign. Pint is still capable of throwing in the high 90s with his fastball and features a curveball that can get plus-plus grades on a good day. The stuff is there. The control is not. Even after some progress at this fall's instructs, the road is simply too long for Pint to get to a place where a Major League team would consider giving him even very limited time in the bullpen. The only reason his chances here are a non-zero number is out of respect for the stuff and the previous reputation. It isn't often a fourth overall pick is available for as little as a Rule 5 pick, and that could scare the Rockies, who are always in need of pitching, into adding Pint next Friday. But look at 2014 second overall pick
Chances: 100 percent
Reasoning: Take this to the bank. MLB.com's No. 20 overall prospect had a good chance to make his Major League debut in this shortened season -- as fellow Detroit pitchers Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal did -- but he was shut down with a forearm strain in late August. The Tigers maintained at the time that Manning's injury was "mild" and the pitcher even resumed throwing at the club's facility in Lakeland this fall. In other words, don't let the injury scare you from thinking the Tigers would leave the 22-year-old unprotected in a Rule 5 Draft. The 2019 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year can show three above-average pitches with better control than similar pitchers of his size at 6-foot-6. He even could jump over Mize to become the club's future ace as early as 2021 and ought to be Detroit's first call when they announce 40-man additions.
Chances: 70 percent
Reasoning: On the day, this felt like a steal for Boston. Groome was considered one of the top talents in the Draft -- MLB.com even had him ranked at No. 1 -- but he fell due to concerns over a high bonus asking price. (He eventually signed for $3.65 million.) It's been a bumpy ride since, mostly due to injuries. The 6-foot-6 southpaw missed all of 2018 and much of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery and was previously limited by lat and forearm issues in 2017. As a result, he has thrown only 66 innings in the Minor Leagues, none of which have come above Class A. That said, the Red Sox did get a healthy Groome some time at the alternate site in Pawtucket and came away pleased with his progress. He was touching the mid-90s in terms of velocity. His curveball shows flashes of its former brilliance. The changeup is a solid third pitch. Unlike Pint, the pieces are there for Groome to make a jump in prospect status when he can get on a Minor League mound with regularity again. As things stand, the 22-year-old is the No. 7 prospect in the Boston system, and the rebuilding organization won't want to risk losing one of its biggest names so easily, even if he is still two years away from reaching Fenway.
Got our first look at 21-year-old LHP @jaygroome55 in some live BP today. #SoxTaxiSquad | @BankofAmerica pic.twitter.com/k3tqw3J63G— PawSox (@PawSox) August 4, 2020
Chances: 100 percent
Reasoning: All the pieces are there to make Lowe an easy addition. He has upper-level experience, having played 121 games at Double-A Montgomery in 2019. He has the production, having hit a career-high 18 homers and stolen another best 30 bases with the Biscuits. He brings added value beyond the plate as arguably the best defensive outfielder in the deep Rays system, both with the arm and the glove. Shoulder surgery that kept him out of Spring Training is the only concern here, but Lowe was healthy enough to be included in Tampa Bay's 60-man player pool. His plus speed and defensive work will be things the Rays definitely will want as 40-man options in 2021 and beyond. If he can maintain the 2019 power surge, all the better.
Chances: 25 percent
Reasoning: If there's anywhere Cleveland needs help, it's in the outfield. Benson possesses some of the best raw power in the entire system and plays capably on the grass. Seems simple when put that way. Of course, it isn't so simple. Sure, Benson combined to belted 44 homers over his 2018 and 2019 seasons, but that also came with 303 strikeouts over 246 games. His last official assignment was at Class A Advanced Lynchburg, where he hit .189/.290/.304 with a 28.6 percent K rate over 61 games. That worked out to a 75 wRC+ at age 21. The former Atlanta prep star certainly takes his share of walks, but the contact issues were just too exaggerated for him to be a Rule 5 threat. What's more, Cleveland only has five 40-man openings as of this week with four prospects ranked higher than Benson (No. 30) in need of protection. They all aren't guarantees either, except for
Chances: 100 percent
Reasoning: The 2019 season was meant to be the year of Whitley's ascension. Instead, he dealt with shoulder problems and saw a serious downturn in his ability to command the ball where he wanted. No matter, he bounced back with an impressive Arizona Fall League campaign, leading to hopes that 2020 could be the year. Instead, concerns about his forearm caused an early shutdown and allowed
Chances: 1 percent
Reasoning: Perez is no longer a top-30 prospect in the Cardinals system, having failed to hit in any of his four Minor League seasons. The Puerto Rico native reached Class A Peoria for the first time in 2019, but produced just a .269/.329/.325 slash line with one homer over 118 games in the Midwest League. His .654 OPS with the Chiefs was actually better than his career mark of .641. Positive reports over his defense have been a saving grace in the past, but won't be enough to overcome the offensive issues here.
Chances: 85 percent
Reasoning: Boston picked up two different Rule 5-eligible players in Potts and
Hudson Potts and Triston Casas both showed off some easy pop in #SimCity yesterday. pic.twitter.com/JGUy1td7gF— PawSox (@PawSox) September 8, 2020
Chances: 5 percent
Reasoning: Ragans has undergone two Tommy John surgeries in the first four-plus years of his career. The latest came in the middle of the 2019 season and likely would have kept the southpaw out for all of the 2020 campaign, no matter what happened. In positive news, he returned to the mound during fall instructs, and Texas general manager Jon Daniels told Baseball America the organization was pleased with how Ragans' changeup had returned following the second procedure. Still, the last time he pitched in a regular-season game was Aug. 30, 2017 with Class A Short Season Spokane. The only reason his chances aren't zero is that injured pitchers can be easily stashed following a Rule 5 pick, and that could scare Texas into protecting Ragans. However, that length of time away from competition and the unfortunate injury history make it more than likely that the 2016 30th overall pick remains off the 40-man for the time being.
Chances: 100 percent
Reasoning: Another midseason trade. Another nailed-on 40-man addition, except this one goes to the full 100 because it involves the No. 51 overall prospect. The Mariners picked up Trammell from the Padres on Aug. 31 as part of a six-player deal, thus giving the club six Top-100 prospects in the midst of a rebuild. They also mark Trammell's third organization since the start of 2019. One could argue Trammell is trying to fit into an area of strength for Seattle and that could hurt his 40-man chances.
Chances: 95 percent
Reasoning: Following a midseason trade from the Braves in 2019, Wentz was part of the Double-A Erie rotation boasting Mize, Manning, Skubal,
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.