5 Early Predictions for MLB's 2012 Rule 5 Draft Picks

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterNovember 2, 2012

5 Early Predictions for MLB's 2012 Rule 5 Draft Picks

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    Every season—usually in conjunction with December’s Winter Meetings—the Rule V draft takes place as a means of providing obscured prospects with an alternate path to the major leagues.

    As part of the process, each team must submit a 40-man roster to the league’s front office to identify their protected prospects. Those left off the roster are then subject to the draft if they meet either of the two remaining qualifications:

    • If the player has four years of minor league service at age-19 or older (junior college draft picks; college seniors)
    • If the player has five years of minor league service between the ages of 16 and 18 (high school draft picks; international signings)

    For more on the specifics of the draft process, be sure to read FanGraphs' Rule V draft primer.

    Today, I’m more interested in looking at some of the prospects that may be unprotected and left off their organization’s 40-man roster on Nov. 20, and therefore eligible for the draft.

Leury Garcia, SS, Texas Rangers

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    Playing opposite Jurickson Profar at second base for Double-A Frisco last season, Leury Garcia improved in all facets of the game.

    In any other organization, the 21-year-old switch-hitter would have likely made his big league debut in 2012. However, with a slew of elite middle infielders, Garcia may be a prospect the Rangers attempt to package in a trade during the coming weeks, because it’s doubtful he’ll go unselected in the Rule V draft.

Michael Ynoa, RHP, Oakland Athletics

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    Signed by the A’s for $4.25 million in the summer of 2008, Ynoa had thrown only nine professional innings headed into the 2012 season.

    At 6’7”, 210 pounds, the right-hander continues to flash three above-average to plus offerings and repeats his mechanics fairly well for a player of his size. However, Ynoa’s lack of experience is evident. He’s never pitched above Class-A Short Season and boasts an 8.17 K/9 and 6.58 BB/9 in 39.2 career innings.

Michael Crouse, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

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    In his age-20 season, Crouse batted .261/.352/.475 with 45 extra-base hits and 38 stolen bases in 101 contests for Low-A Lansing—his second consecutive season at the level. The 6’4”, 215-pound outfielder has a stiff, armsy swing, as well as a lack of plate discipline.

    Even though he has a few standout tools, Crouse as an overall prospect is raw with more athleticism than baseball skills. Considering that 2013 will be his age-22 season, there could be several organizations interested in the outfielder via the Rule V draft.

Josh Prince, IF/OF, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Selected by the Brewers in the third round of the 2009 draft, Prince posted a .706 OPS with 41 stolen bases and 107/74 K/BB for Double-A Huntsville last season. While we won’t know for a few weeks whether the organization intends to add him to the 40-man roster, the 6’0", 180-pound outfielder is making a strong case by batting .443/.521/.623 over 17 games in the Arizona Fall League.

    A right-handed hitter, Prince will never be more than a gap-hitter with fairly advanced plate discipline. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old doesn’t involve much projection; what you see is what you get.

Santos Rodriguez, LHP, Chicago White Sox

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    Signed by the Atlanta Braves in the fall of 2006, Rodriguez was eventually shipped off to the White Sox as part of a package for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan in late 2008.

    At 6’5”, 180 pounds, the left-hander has swing-and-miss stuff highlighted by a plus fastball in the mid-90s, and reached Triple-A this season for the first time in his career. However, because he employs a jerky, max-effort delivery, Rodriguez has repeatedly struggled with his command—especially with secondary pitches.

    Still, he’s fresh off his best professional season and enjoying a decent performance thus far in the Arizona Fall League. Rodriguez may always post high strikeout and walk rates as a big leaguer, but with his size, handedness and plus heater, expect organizations to target him via the Rule V draft.