I got bored waiting for news on who the Blue Jays will be protected in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft so let’s look the 2019 eligible crop
The deadline looming for the Toronto Blue Jays to protect prospects eligible for next months Rule 5 Draft. This year’s group of eligible prospects have received a lot of attention, a symptom of an improving farm system and a crowded 40-man roster. For the first time in a long time (2009) the Toronto system has the potential have a prospect plucked from its system. So we don’t get our panties in a bunch if this happens, I thought it might be fun to quickly look at a few names who will be eligible for the 2019 Rule 5 Draft. This will provide perspective on which other prospects are on the horizon.
For this exercise, I won’t be including current or previous eligible prospects.
Players from the 2016 Draft will become eligible for the first time, as well as International Free Agents signed during the 2015 signing window (July 2015).
LHP Jake Fishman
The 2016 30th round selection has mostly flown under the radar despite posting nice numbers out of the bullpen. Fishman should start 2019 with the Fisher Cats after making 44 appearances and converting 8 of 11 saves in Dunedin this past season. Fishman owned a 24.8 K% and 4.9 BB% with a 2.65 FIP.
LHP Kirby Snead
Drafted in the 10th round, Snead started 2018 with the D-Jays (1-1, 1.08 ERA and 2SV) and finished with New Hampshire (3-4, 4.43 ERA and SV). Snead might not start in Buffalo but he will certainly see Triple-A in 2019 which will put him on the map for a spot in the 40-man roster. Snead will need to lower his 5.27 BB/9 (AA) before that happens.
RHP Bryan Baker
Acquired from Colorado, Baker was selected in the 11th round. Baker spent ’18 in Advanced-A, striking out 67 batters over 51.1 innings while making 49 appearances and converting 2-for-4 saves. Baker posted an ugly 6.16 FIP prior to his trade and a slightly less ugly 5.54 FIP with the D-Jays. Even with an ugly FIP, Baker should start the ’19 with NH.
RHP T.J. Zeuch
With so many starters (Trent Thornton, Patrick Murphy, Jacob Waguespack, Jordan Romano, Jon Harris, and Yennsy Diaz) eligible for next months Rule 5 Draft, it’s possible that Zeuch doesn’t get added to the 40-man roster until next year at this time. Zeuch spent April with the D-Jays (3-3, 3.47 ERA in 6 starts) before finishing the year with NH (9-5, 3.08 ERA in 21 starts). T.J. doesn’t strike out a ton (6.08 K/9) but his 55.2 GB% keeps the defense engaged. With the SP depth, T.J. may have to return to NH to begin ’19. Definitely, a candidate to be protected.
RHP Jose Espada
A slow developing pitcher, Espada posted 10.68 K/9 in 59.0IP with the Vancouver Canadians in 2018. He won 3 and lost 7 while posting a 4.88 ERA in 13 starts. Espada will get a chance to start in Lansing and screams 2019 breakout candidate; however, he will likely be left unprotected unless he somehow makes it up to AA.
RHP Justin Maese (if healthy)
Missed all of 2018 and struggled with shoulder issues in 2017. Maese is a sinkerball pitcher who generates lots of groundballs. He has middle to back of the rotation potential but will need to prove he is healthy. When he returns, Maese will likely start back in Dunedin or in the Gulf Coast League depending on his timetable making him an unlikely Add candidate.
The former 4th round selection had a breakout type season in Dunedin leading the Florida State League a bunch of statistical categories. Palacios finished with a .357 wOBA and 124 wRC+ while also posting a .775 OPS and .126 ISO. 2019 will really determine Palacios’ worth as a potential Add candidate as he doesn’t stand out for his power or speed.
The former Milwaukee Brewers prospect shows good speed and raw power. Orimoloye split ’18 between A-Ball (.260BA with 9 doubles, 5 triples and HR, and 15 SB in 61 games) and Advanced-A (.237 with 11 doubles, 1Triple, 7 HR, and 7 SB in 65 games). Demi’s power potential makes me believe he’s a solid Add candidate.
The 20-yr-old showed flashes of potential as a member of the Vancouver Canadians in 2018. He batted just .260 with 11 doubles, 4 triples, 8 HR and 6 SB in 59 games. His 69K and 9 BB leave a lot to be desired. He is expected to get his first taste of Full-Season A-Ball with the Lansing Lugnuts. Don’t expect too much movement from Contreras in ’19 because I see him as more of a Hide candidate than an Add candidate.
3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
UTL Cavan Biggio
Not as obvious as Vladdy but kinda close. Biggio will head to Triple-A Buffalo in ’19 after batting .252 with a league-leading 26 HR and capturing the Eastern League Rookie and MVP award. Biggio is developing into a low average, high OBP, high ISO outcome prospect. Behind Guerrero Jr. Biggio has the best chance of being added to the 40-man roster during the season.
SS/2B Santiago Espinal
The Blue Jays received Espinal from the Boston Red Sox in return for eventual World Series hero Steve Pearce. Espinal was having a very good season for the Red Sox Advanced-A affiliate prior to the trade. He was moved up to NH in July where he batted .286 with 9 doubles, a pair of triples, a HR, and a .748 OPS. Espinal should return to NH to start the year and appears to be a very likely Add candidate.
The 20-yr-old had a very nice season with the Rookie Ball Bluefield Blue Jays in 2018. He batted .246 with 8 doubles, 5 triples, 7 HR, and 9 SB over 62 games. He has a chance of starting the year with the Lugnuts but it is safe to say he is an extreme longshot Add candidate next season.
Featured Pic credit: JFtC Ryan Mueller
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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.