Top MLB Prospects Left Exposed in 2016 Rule 5 Draft

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2016

Top MLB Prospects Left Exposed in 2016 Rule 5 Draft

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    Chicago White Sox southpaw Jordan Guerrero
    Chicago White Sox southpaw Jordan GuerreroNorm Hall/Getty Images

    From Roberto Clemente (1954) to Johan Santana (1999), some special players have found their way to the big leagues through MLB's Rule 5 draft. As usual, this year's iteration represents the last major event of the annual winter meetings, and it is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. ET Thursday.

    How does it all work? Who is eligible? Here's everything you need to know, courtesy of MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo:

    • "Players who first signed at age 18 had to be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process."
    • "Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons."
    • "Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000."

    A pair of relievers, St. Louis' Matt Bowman (3.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) and Toronto's Joe Biagini (3.06 ERA, 1.30 WHIP), were the standouts from last year's draft, which saw 10 of the 16 players selected log time in the big leagues for their new clubs.

    Will this year's draft deliver more impact picks? Here's a look at a handful of prospects who could contribute in the big leagues next season as Rule 5 selections.

RHP Yimmi Brasoban, San Diego Padres

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    2016 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPIPHBBK
    A+/AA39/05-22.391.0649.0351748

    Were it not for questions about his right elbow, there's no way Yimmi Brasoban would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft. San Diego would have protected him.

    But the 22-year-old was shut down after just two appearances in the Dominican Winter League and recently received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in an attempt to avoid surgery to repair the damage in his injured joint.

    When healthy, Brasoban has an electric fastball that sits in the upper 90s and a wipeout slider, giving him the tools to potentially become a late-inning force in a big league bullpen. That he's already had success (albeit limited) in the upper levels of the minors suggests he might be ready to make the leap.

2B/SS Calten Daal, Cincinnati Reds

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    2016 Stats

    LevelABBAOPSH XBH (HR)RBIRSBBB/K
    AA116.310.744365 (1)6155-for-69/26

    Shoulder injuries limited Calten Daal's development in 2016, but the 23-year-old athletic, speedy infielder has enough upside for a team to take a flier on him.

    Daal has shown the ability to make consistent contact and a good feel for hitting throughout his four years as a pro, finishing 2016 a career .280 hitter. He offers little in the way of power, something that's unlikely to change as he continues to add muscle, but he can lace line drives around the field.

    Capable of playing both second base and shortstop, Daal could find himself on a major league bench as a utility infielder and pinch runner.

IF Phillip Evans, New York Mets

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    2016 Stats

    LevelABBAOPSH XBH (HR)RBIRSBBB/K
    A+/AA389.321.82612538 (8)41531-for-224/63

    One of the bigger surprises in the minors this past season was the evolution of Phillip Evans, who went from a career .236 hitter to the Eastern League batting champion, hitting .335 over 96 games with the Double-A Binghamton Mets.

    "I think it's just a lot of all the years coming together—experience and plate appearances," Evans, a 15th-round pick in 2011, told ESPN.com's Adam Rubin in August. "It's turning out to be a pretty good year for me."

    Tweaks to his stance and approach at the plate not only saw Evans' batting average jump, but the 24-year-old set new career highs in extra-base hits, doubles, home runs and RBI.

    He's bounced around the diamond as he's worked his way through the minors, spending time at second base, shortstop and third base. He's not someone a team wants in its lineup on a daily basis yet, but he has value as a utility infielder with upside.

LHP Jordan Guerrero, Chicago White Sox

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    2016 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPIPHBBK
    AA25/257-84.831.52136.013373108

    After posting a respectable 2.1 walks-per-nine-innings rate over his first four seasons, it was something of a shock to see Jordan Guerrero's control get away from him in Double-A, where he walked nearly five batters per nine innings last season.

    The 22-year-old southpaw lacks elite velocity on his cut fastball—but we've seen pitchers without heat carve out solid careers at the back end of major league rotations before. Ultimately, Guerrero might be best suited for a bullpen role, where his cutter might play up in short stints.

    Regardless of what role he fills, Guerrero could be one of the steals of this year's Rule 5 draft given his track record of success, age and durability, having tossed a combined 285 innings since 2015.

RHP Justin Haley, Boston Red Sox

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    2016 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPIPHBBK
    AA/AAA27/2613-103.011.12146.211945126

    Like the aforementioned Guerrero, Justin Haley has a track record of success as an innings-eating starter, logging at least 124 frames in each of the past four seasons. Like Guerrero, Haley lacks elite velocity, leading some, like Over the Monster's Marc Normandin, to believe he might be best suited for the bullpen in the big leagues.

    But unlike his left-handed counterpart, the 25-year-old has four quality offerings and has enjoyed success at the highest level of the minors, pitching to a 3.59 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 15 games (14 starts) for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2016.

    His ceiling as a starter is limited, but Haley is ready to take the ball every fifth day in the big leagues as he tries to establish himself as a durable, reliable back-of-the-rotation option.

1B/3B Eric Jagielo, Cincinnati Reds

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    2016 Stats

    LevelABBAOPSH XBH (HR)RBIRSBBB/K
    AA365.205.6157523 (7)26260-for-044/128

    The 26th overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft, Eric Jagielo found himself and his big, raw power headed to Cincinnati last winter in the trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to the New York Yankees. But the 24-year-old, who had his 2015 season cut short by knee surgery, struggled mightily.

    According to Baseball America's J.J. Cooper, some scouts wondered whether his struggles were related to his surgically repaired knee, as he "lacked impact" at the plate. Aside from his injury history, Jagielo's penchant for striking out—336 times in 315 career games—is concerning.

    But it's what he does when he's healthy and makes contact that's enticing. Jagielo offers a ton of left-handed power and can play both corner infield spots. For a team in need of those skills, Jagielo could be its man.

RHP Paul Sewald, New York Mets

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    2016 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPIPHBBK
    AAA56/05-33.291.2065.2582180

    A 10th-round pick in the 2012 MLB draft, Paul Sewald doesn't have the kind of electric stuff or overpowering velocity that jumps out at you. But the guy flat-out knows how to pitch. Outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who has risen through the Mets' farm system with Sewald, can attest to that.

    "He's a perfectionist. He needs to be right there," Nimmo told Betsy Helfand of the Las Vegas Review-Journal in June. "He doesn't have a lot of give for mistake[s]. He doesn't say 'Oh, I only missed by a couple inches.' He wants it where he wants it."

    Most of the time, his pitches go where he wants, evidenced by a career 2.1 BB/9 rate and 10.7 K/9 rate over parts of five minor league seasons. That he was as successful as he was at Triple-A last year only provides more evidence.

    "Sewald survived the hellscape that is pitching in Las Vegas," wrote Baseball America's J.J. Cooper, "which by itself is an endorsement that he's ready for the big leagues."

    He's never going to be a big-time closer, but Sewald can carve out a spot as a useful middle reliever.

3B Eric Wood, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    2016 Stats

    LevelABBAOPSHXBH (HR)RBIRSBBB/K
    AA402.249.78210041 (16)50635-for-952/88

    A converted pitcher, Eric Wood has proved himself versatile enough to play the infield corners as well as left field. Versatility is always a sought-after trait, especially when a team has to commit a valuable 25-man roster spot to a player selected in the Rule 5 draft.

    While the 24-year-old has plenty of swing-and-miss in his game, striking out 28 times in 88 Arizona Fall League at-bats, he's shown enough patience to draw walks. Coupled with his developing power—Wood smacked a career-high 16 home runs for Double-A Altoona during the regular season and hit three more in the AFL, which he led with 20 RBI—Wood is an intriguing player for a team to stick on its bench.

         

    Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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