LIVE: The 2020 Rule 5 Draft (UPDATES: Cubs select Gray Fenter, rhp)

If there is one aspect of the Winter Meetings that isn’t hampered at all by the lack of actual meetings, it’s the Rule 5 Draft. Major League teams enter today with the knowledge of both whether or not they will make a pick, as well as who their selection would be. With a 40-man roster containing only 34 names, and a front office history of giving the Rule 5 the old college try, my bet is that we do see the Chicago Cubs make at least one selection today. Below this introduction, I’m live-blogging the draft as it rolls on.

For the uninitiated, the quick Rule 5 rules: there are two phases of the Rule 5, a three-round Major League phase, and a go-until-everybody-is-done minor league phase. A selection in the Major League phase costs $100,000, and to retain the selected player, he must stay on the active Major League roster for a season’s worth of time (or at least 90 days plus time on the Injured List), otherwise the player is offered back to his original team for a $50,000 fee. The player pool is made up of players that are a) not currently on a 40-man roster and b) have toiled in the minors for at least 3-4 full seasons. There are no requirements to drafting an eligible player in the minor league phase: pay the selection price, and the player is yours until he reaches minor league free agency. More players are protected in the minor league phase, however.

(Note from Brett: you often see trades during the Rule 5, though they aren’t the sexy kind you’re thinking. Instead, you will often see a team up in the draft select a player for another team further back, and then trade that player for a modest cash consideration. Basically, it’s just teams doing favors for each other since the selections are tradable. That is to say, as the picks are made, sometimes you’ll quickly learn that the team who picked a guy isn’t actually the team who picked that guy.)

While the all-virtual nature of the 2020 Rule 5 won’t have an impact on teams, the lack of a 2020 minor league season makes me think we’ll see a little less action today. It’s just so hard for MLB teams to have any knowledge of where a player’s game is at. I imagine there will be some not-unreasonable appeals to authority in front offices today: if the player’s own team didn’t protect him from the Rule 5, with all the inside information they have on the guy, do they know something that we don’t?

In addition to considering their own picks, the Cubs are also crossing their fingers that the draft won’t impact their existing depth too significantly. With no current depth for the Major League bench, a guy like catcher-and-utility-man P.J. Higgins, or utility man Trent Giambrone, would be a tough loss. Michael Rucker, who was chosen in the Rule 5 last year by the Orioles and then returned days before the shutdown, probably is the Cubs likeliest draft pick. Dakota Mekkes, who I pleaded the Cubs to protect from the Rule 5 in 2019, is likely also getting consideration. Former first rounder Brendon Little is probably the Cubs’ best prospect who is eligible, though it’s tough to see him pitching in the big leagues in 2021. A dark horse could be big lefty Bryan Hudson, who other organizations saw in the mid 90s down in Instructs two months ago.

I’m not crazy enough to attempt to handicap who the Cubs might themselves pick, though they have leaned towards relief pitchers during the Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer era. In my prospect notes on Tuesday, I threw out Buddy Reed as a potential outfield depth selection, while Brett mentioned his fascination with outfielder Lazaro Armenteros’ significant potential. I’ve seen a few other names thrown out there by Cubs bloggers, be it Phil at The Cub Reporter, Tim at Bleed Cubbie Blue, or Todd at Cubs Central.

At the national industry level, no one is crazier about the Rule 5 Draft than Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, who has the most in-depth preview you’re going to find. I also liked the primer that Jonathan Mayo did at MLB Pipeline, which lists every organization’s top 30 prospects eligible for the draft.

I’ll be live-blogging this thing as the picks roll in, and you can expect plenty extra on anything involving the Cubs, so stay and hang out!

* * *

The start has been slightly(?) delayed, because it is 2020.

  1. Pittsburgh – Jose Soriano, rhp
  2. Texas – Brett De Geus, rhp
  3. Detroit – Akil Baddoo, of
  4. Boston – Garrett Whitlock, rhp
  5. Baltimore – Mac Scroler, rhp
  6. Arizona – Zach Pop, rhp
  7. Kansas City – PASS
  8. Colorado – Jordan Sheffield, rhp
  9. Angels – Jose Rivera, rhp
  10. Mets – Luis Oviedo, rhp
  11. Nationals – PASS
  12. Seattle – Will Vest
  13. Philadelphia – Kyle Holder, ss
  14. San Francisco – Dedniel Nunez, rhp
  15. Milwaukee – PASS
  16. Houston – PASS
  17. Miami – Paul Campbell, rhp
  18. Reds – PASS
  19. Cardinals – PASS
  20. Blue Jays – PASS
  21. Yankees – PASS
  22. Cubs – Gray Fenter, rhp

We’ll be doing plenty of background on this pick in time, but Fenter is a former seventh-round pick out of high school that took four years to even make it to Low-A in 2019. But what he did there was absolutely dominant: 94.1 IP, 61 H, 1.81 ERA, 43 BB, 123 K. Started 17 of the 22 games in which he appeared.

23. White Sox – PASS

24. Cleveland – Trevor Stephan, rhp

25. Atlanta – PASS

26. Oakland – Ka’ai Tom, OF

Rest of league passes in round 1. Will only update picks from here on.

Round 2

Baltimore – Tyler Wells, RHP

Cubs decline to make a selection in the second round.

Oakland – Dany Jimenez, RHP

This completes the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Cubs don’t lose anyone, which is good news.

By the way, here is a great scouting report from Orioles bloggers on Gray Fenter. Perhaps Cubs are intrigued by the slider that Fenter added in 2019? And here is a more recent update on Fenter.


For the minor league phase, I will only reference Cubs selections or selections from the Cubs organization. Remember: these players don’t need to stick at any level: they now change farm systems until minor league free agency.

Detroit selects Yunior Perez, rhp from the Cubs.

Perez is a big-bodied right-hander that in relief can get his fastball up to the upper 90s. He’s struggled with control problems, but has never fully been a full-time reliever. I think he’s a nice pick by the Tigers, I’d like to see what he does in short relief full-time.

While I have not done by prospect list, Perez probably wouldn’t be in the mix for even the top 50 guys in the system. He’d be a sleeper in the 51-100 range though!

Cubs select Nicholas Padilla, rhp from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Padilla last pitched in the Midwest League in 2019, his last two outings both against the South Bend Cubs. Padilla was a 13th round pick out of junior college in 2015, and will turn 24 in two weeks.

Padilla went from a 6.6 K/9 in the New York – Penn League in 2018 to a 11.0 K/9 in the Midwest League, surely due to some stuff improvement that the Cubs picked up on.

Cubs select Samuel Reyes, rhp from Pittsburgh Pirates

From the Dominican, but didn’t pop up in pro ball until he was 21 years old. He’ll turn 25 before Opening Day, but posted some nice numbers in 2019 across Low- and High-A: 70.2 IP, 52 H, 2.29 ERA, 23 BB, 73 K.

Reyes is short, listed at just 5-foot-11, so I’m wondering if Cubs see some Vertical Approach Angle benefit (see my Dan Winkler post from two weeks ago). Also, wow at Reyes’ numbers against left-handed hitters in 2019: they hit .153/.215/.216 against him.

Pirates select Jeffrey Passantino, rhp from Chicago Cubs

Passantino is a fun player, a short and heavy right-handed pitcher that has enjoyed tremendous success for years despite velocity in the low-to-mid 80s. He mixes and matches pitches so well, hitters just hate that at-bat. Passantino got a lot of fans in the organization when he jumped from Low-A to Triple-A for two spot starts in 2019 and pitched amazingly in the impossible Pacific Coast League: 9 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 K.

This completes the action, everybody! Thanks for following along. I’ll be back with my thoughts on the draft picks in the morning.

written by

Bryan Smith is a Minor League Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @cubprospects.

more cubs news

REPORTS: Yankees-Padres Talks on Juan Soto Stalling Out? Others Stepping In? Any Shohei Ohtani Connection?

Within a FIVE-MINUTE SPAN, multiple reports dropped all communicating more or less the same thing: the Yankees and Padres have hit a wall in their long-reported and long-active Juan Soto trade talks. The trio of reports:

Obsessive Shohei Ohtani Watch: More Meetings This Weekend? Finalists? Impact on Other Moves?

In addition to Jeff Passan this morning listing the likely final teams on Shohei Ohtani as the Cubs, Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Angels - with the Giants an unknown - you can add two more who seem to be hearing...

That’s a New One: Jordan Montgomery Could Be a “Strike-First” Option for the Cubs

While we wait for Shohei Ohtani to make his decision, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto to sign shortly thereafter, perhaps the Cubs could surprise the industry and sign ... left-handed starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery? That's new. The rumor in question isn't quite...

A Yoshinobu Yamamoto Update is Also Kind of an Obsessive Shohei Ohtani Watch

Shohei Ohtani continues to be the central focus of much of the baseball world - it certainly takes up 95% of my brain - but he is not the only top free agent out there this offseason. I keep thinking...

Shifting Cubs Bullpen Strategies, Continued RSN Woes, Kapler, Chourio, Dawson, and Other Cubs Bullets

The peppermint cookie fudge ice cream at Trader Joe's. My god. If you like those flavor combos, I could not possibly recommend this ice cream more furiously. I will be stocking up the freezer. A very interesting way to look...

Oh, For Real? Cubs Among the “Favorites” to Sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto

I gotta tell you, this one is catching me by surprise. While we've long known the Cubs have been interested in signing 25-year-old Japanese Ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the momentum sure seemed to swing away from them lately (especially now that...

Obsessive Shohei Ohtani Watch: Teams Getting Cut, Dollars Going Sky High, Cubs, Dodgers, More

The Winter Meetings were never NECESSARILY going to be the Shohei Ohtani cut-off, but it sure has seemed like a logical dividing line. It's big and splashy, which MLB would love, but it's also a time when involved teams (and...

More Connecting the Cubs to a Tyler Glasnow Trade, But It Might Not Be Imminent

Even as I read that headline, I realize that it kinda depends on your definition of the word "imminent." For me, I think of that - in a baseball transaction context - as something that's truly just about to go...

5 Best Gift Ideas for Chicago Cubs Fans

It's the Holiday season, which means it's time to do some shopping! It's a great time to be a Chicago Cubs fan, so why not get the North Sider in your life what they really want for the Holidays: Cubs...

More on the Contact Quality Concerns That Could Be Impacting Cody Bellinger’s Free Agency

A few weeks ago, I shared some thoughts on why the "concerns" about Cody Bellinger's free agency - the injury history, the down years, the poor batted ball metrics - either were, or were not, real and significant concerns going...

Latest News

Tulane vs. SMU: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

The No. 17 Tulane Green Wave (11-1) square off against a familiar opponent when they host the No. 25 SMU Mustangs (10-2) on Saturday, December 2, 2023 at Yulman Stadium in an AAC showdown.You should head to ABC in order...

Troy vs. Appalachian State: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

The Troy Trojans (10-2) take on a fellow Sun Belt foe when they host the Appalachian State Mountaineers (8-4) on Saturday, December 2, 2023 at Veterans Memorial Stadium (AL).The matchup between the Trojans and Mountaineers will be available on ESPN.When...

Georgia vs. Alabama: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia is the setting for the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs' (12-0) matchup against the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) on December 2, 2023, starting at 4:00 PM ET.The Bulldogs' matchup versus the Crimson Tide will...

Georgia vs. Alabama Prediction: Odds, Picks, Best Bets – December 2, 2023

Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia is the setting for the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs' (12-0) matchup against the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) on December 2, 2023, starting at 4:00 PM ET, airing on CBS. The Bulldogs are a...

Troy vs. Appalachian State Prediction: Live Odds, Stats, History and Picks – December 2, 2023

The Appalachian State Mountaineers (8-4) and their 17th-ranked scoring offense will take the field against the Troy Trojans (10-2) and the 10th-ranked scoring defense on Saturday, December 2, 2023. The Trojans are favored by 5 points. The over/under for the...

Tulane vs. SMU Prediction: Odds, Picks, Best Bets – December 2, 2023

The No. 17 Tulane Green Wave (11-1) carry the No.17 scoring defense in the nation into a clash with the No. 25 SMU Mustangs (10-2), who have the No. 4 scoring offense, on Saturday, December 2, 2023. The Green Wave...

Stephen Curry Player Props: Three-Pointer Props and Odds vs. the Clippers – Saturday, December 2, 2023

To beat his 3-point prop, Stephen Curry needs to make five from beyond the arc on Saturday, when his Golden State Warriors face the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday at 4:00 PM ET.Stephen Curry's Three-Pointer Prop Odds vs. the ClippersStephen...

Paul George Player Props: Three-Pointer Props and Odds vs. the Warriors – Saturday, December 2, 2023

Will Paul George drain three 3-pointers when the Los Angeles Clippers face the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at 4:00 PM ET? If so, he'll beat his prop for the game.Paul George's Three-Pointer Prop Odds vs. the WarriorsPaul George's over/under...

Klay Thompson Player Props: Three-Pointer Props and Odds vs. the Clippers – Saturday, December 2, 2023

To beat his 3-point prop, Klay Thompson needs to make four from beyond the arc on Saturday, when his Golden State Warriors play the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday at 4:00 PM ET.Klay Thompson's Three-Pointer Prop Odds vs. the ClippersKlay...

Kawhi Leonard Player Props: Three-Pointer Props and Odds vs. the Warriors – Saturday, December 2, 2023

Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers play the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at 4:00 PM ET, and to beat his 3-point prop, he must make two from beyond the arc.Kawhi Leonard's Three-Pointer Prop Odds vs. the WarriorsKawhi Leonard's over/under for...

more cubs news