The annual Rule 5 Draft – wherein teams are able to select (or lose!) certain players – is scheduled to take place this Thursday at 8 a.m. CT.
In case you’ve forgotten, most eligible players are ones that have not yet been added to their team’s 40 man roster and have played either four or five years of professional baseball (depending on their age).
A few days ago, I wrote about how four of the Cubs prospects eligible for the draft ranked among the very best at their position, by KATOH Projections. Those names, once again, are John Andreoli, Taylor Davis, Armando Rivero, and Jose Paulino. The Cubs may lose one or all of them this Thursday (although there’s always a chance to get them back, but that’s a story for another time).
And although it’s more plausible that the Cubs lose a player or two (or more) on Thursday, it’s also entirely possible that they’ll find a way to squeeze in a pick of their own, as well. To that end, Baseball America has recently previewed the entire Rule 5 Draft, by separating players into useful buckets for your perusing. Take a few minutes to check it out.
BA’s preview is great, but it’s also protected behind a paywall, so I will give you only a taste here. You’ll have to subscribe to Baseball America for more. But in short, they’ve separated a large number of the prospects into the following buckets:
- The Cream of the Crop
- Hard Throwing Relievers
- Good Glove Infielders
- Betting on the Bat
- Talented, But Not Ready
- Center Fielders
- Enough Stuff, Good Control
- Lefty Specialists
- Big Names Available (Yasiel Sierra, Rusney Castillo)
And despite all of those categories, only two Cubs made the cut: Andury Acevedo (hard throwing relievers) and Bijan Rademacher (betting on the bat).
On Acevedo, BA mentions that, when healthy, he can pitch between 95-97 MPH with an interesting cutter, but injury questions from 2016 (and their effect on his performance) might prevent a team from seriously stashing him in their bullpen (i.e. on the 25-man roster) for the entire season (the requirement for any selection to remain on your roster after the first year).
On Rademacher, BA is impressed by his season at the plate in 2016 (his best yet): .307/.385/.466 between Double-A and Triple-A, but also believes his positional limitations leaves much to be desired. As a guy who can play only the corner outfield spots and first base, Rademacher may go unselected on Thursday.
You will find some familiar names available on Thursday, as well, like the Dodgers’ $30 million Yasiel Sierra or the Red Sox’s $72.5 million Rusney Castillo. HOWEVA, it’s important to remember that the drafting team is responsible for that players’ contract and, given how it’s gone for each of those formerly big name players, you can expect both to be left untouched later this week.
Instead, if the Cubs are going to roll the dice on anyone, I’d look no further than the hard-throwing relievers section, with a particular interest in left handers. The problem with most of them, however, is that the best ones are often the furthest away from the Majors, which makes keeping them nearly impossible for any team, let alone a competitive one. And, given how loaded the Cubs roster was last season, spare room might not come easily.
Stay tuned, though! You never know when the Cubs might get their next Hector Rondon.