With several top 30 prospects eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, the Blue Jays will be making some tough personnel decisions this winter.
While compiling a list of Blue Jays minor leaguers which could potentially leave the system via free agency this offseason, I thought it’d be a good time to roll out an article on Blue Jay prospects eligible for the 2018 Rule 5 Draft. While I think it is still too early to debate which prospects should be added to or left off the 40-man roster, thus making them ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft later this offseason, I am going to provide some commentary.
Just in case you’re unaware what the Rule 5 Draft is, here is a very brief explanation.
Major League Baseball allows teams to protect up to 40 players. During the Rule 5 Draft, any player not on the 40-man roster, four plus years removed from their draft or signing year, depending on the age and date of signing, is eligible for the draft. Essentially, the draft was put in place to prevent organizations from stock piling prospects in the minor leagues, thus road blocking a player’s career. There’s a little more to it, but that’s the short and skinny.
I am not going to cover guys like Jon Berti or Christian Lopes, as I wrote about them in the Blue Jays MiLB Free Agents piece. These guys are eligible to take their services elsewhere this offseason; therefore, this list will not consist of prospects who are eligible for MiLB free agency
Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
RHP Andrew Case
1B Rowdy Tellez
I expect that Danny Jansen and Rowdy Tellez will be protected or traded. Roemon Fields had a good season for the Bisons and has the speed to impact games at the MLB level but is not likely to be protected.
Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats
RHP Dusty Isaacs
RHP Conner Greene
RHP Francisco Rios
RHP Justin Shafer
LHP Shane Dawson
LHP Jose Fernandez
INF Gunnar Heidt
INF Tim Lopes
Reese McGuire dealt with injuries in 2017 but is still regarded as one of the most gifted defensive catchers in the minors; therefore, will receive a lot of attention from other clubs if left unprotected.
Personally, I’d take a chance on Tim Lopes.
Jonathan Davis has looked good in 2016 and 2017, but not good enough for another organization to consider him in the draft.
Conner Greene possesses a 97 mph FB with a very good hook. His development has stalled at Double-A thanks to an inability to limit walks. A team could take a flier on him by starting him in the bullpen like the Blue Jays did with Joe Biagini.
Dusty Isaacs dominated in Double-A this season but flew under-the-radar. Not likely to be protected but could get some attention from other clubs looking to see if he can make the jump.
Advanced A-Ball Dunedin Blue Jays
RHP Conor Fisk
RHP Jordan Romano
RHP Patrick Murphy
LHP Angel Perdomo
1B Juan Kelly
OF Josh Almonte
OF D.J. Davis
The D-Jays Jordan Romano missed 2015 due to injury but has put together back-to-back strong seasons with Lansing (2016) and Dunedin (2017). His fastball and slider are plus pitches and his 95 mph fastball would fit nicely in any bullpen.
Max Pentecost continues to struggle to stay healthy. He spent time on the DL again this year, but when healthy looked good at the plate. His injury history and lack of a clearly defined position should keep him safe.
Juan Kelly is an undersized first baseman who doesn’t hit for power, homerun power that is. Kelly is a good hitter who uses the gaps to collect doubles.
Patrick Murphy had a good season with the Lugnuts before missing a chunk of time to the DL. Murphy, like Romano and Pentecost, has an injury history that should cause teams to look elsewhere.
Despite Conor Fisk excellent season with the D-Jays, he doesn’t possess the stuff teams are looking for during the Rule 5 Draft.
A-Ball Lansing Lugnuts
RHP Denis Diaz
RHP Yonardo Herdenez
RHP Dalton Rodriguez
LHP Dan Lietz
3B Mitch Nay
None of the arms listed above have the stuff or polish to garner much attention from other teams.
Yeltsin Gudino had a breakout season with the Lugnuts, but is still very raw.
Short-Season A-Ball Vancouver Canadians
LHP Wilfri Aleton
LHP Grayson Huffman
LHP Miguel Burgos
RHP Juan Nunez
Short-Season Rookie Bluefield Blue Jays
LHP Keyln Jose
LHP Jose Nova
INF Jesus Severino
It’s rare that teams will take a prospect from another organization with zero Double-A experience. That is not to say it doesn’t happen. The San Diego Padres took players from A-Ball and the Appalachian League in last year’s Rule 5 Draft.
With this under consideration, I feel very comfortable that any players from Bluefield, Vancouver, and Lansing will not be taken in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft.
Let’s Wrap This Up
In my opinion, there aren’t typically very many prospects available during the Rule 5 Draft and the prospects which are left unprotected are mostly career minor leaguers.
Last season the Blue Jays did not lose anyone during the Major League portion of the draft. Jorge Flores, Jorge Saez, and Matt Smoral were scooped up during the Triple-A portion and I’m pretty sure their loss wasn’t felt too much.
I have a feeling the offseason is going to be a busy one. I can see a few of the names listed above popping up in trade rumors or actually being included in trades over the winter.
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