The annual Rule 5 draft is today, a rule that allows teams to select minor league players with enough service time not currently protected to their 40 man rosters onto the new team’s big league roster for the next season.
Some notable past Rule 5 picks include Jose Bautista, George Bell, Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton, and Shane Victorino. Former Braves like Bobby Bonilla, Darren O’Day, Alexei Ogando, Dan Uggla, and Jason Grilli got their start here as well.
While some players have potential, all players available have some issues that caused them from being protected on their current team’s 40 man roster- whether it is the fact they are too far away, have a questionable key tool(command or hit), or off field concerns.
This is hardly a list of the 10 best players in the draft pool, as you could argue Royals prospect Seuly Matias is the highest upside bat available. However Matias has serious hit tool questions and needs significant time in the minors to refine his hit tool, making him a guy the Braves wouldn’t have a spot to carry for the whole 2021 season since he wouldn’t be usable in games.
That said this could be a spot where a contending team like the Braves can find a bullpen arm or bench bat, or maybe even a prospect who wouldn’t be entirely out of place holding down the last big league roster spot for a year. Considering the team claimed Jack Mayfield off waivers, it’s hard to say there aren’t upgrades here.
Note there is also a minor league phase as well, which doesn’t require players to be housed on big league rosters.
Yefri Del Castillo, RHP, Royals-The least likely pick, as Del Castillo isn’t close to ready- however he was a part of that 2016 IFA class set free by MLB as a punishment for former GM John Coppolella’s international misdeeds. Del Castillo isn’t a good fit for 2021, but with some still around the org from his time here it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that they take a flier on him.
Marshall Kasowski, RHP, Dodgers- If you’re looking for a reliever with swing and miss stuff, along with a guy familiar to Alex Anthopoulos from his time in the Dodger organization it would be Kasowski. Kasowski has put up good strikeout numbers as a pro, but his upside is limited by his command issues. One other note is he is coming off an injury, which could effect his stock. Personally this would be the guy I would grab.
Raymond Kerr, LHP, Mariners- Kerr is a lefty who can bring it up to 100 MPH and has a breaking ball with real potential as well. However the command has always been an issue, and he wasn’t even drafted out of college due to that. Kerr would be tough to keep for a year as a contender, but with his stuff from the left side it wouldn’t be a bad gamble here.
Domingo Leyba, MIF, Diamondbacks- The lone hitter to make the list is an interesting player. Leyba has seen some big league time and is performing well in winter ball thus far, along with being a switch hitter for the Braves heavily right handed hitting roster. However he is also a guy who spent 2020 suspension for PEDs in the minors. Leyba offers a little more upside than a guy like Jack Mayfield.
Tim Mayza, LHP, Blue Jays-Mayza is a proven big leaguer who was removed from the 40 man this fall during his recovery from Tommy John Surgery. He could be a cheap proven lefty capable of holding his own.
Zach Pop, RHP, Orioles-A highly drafted reliever with big stuff, Pop is a guy also a part of the Dodger organization previously. The biggest issue with him is the fact he’s coming off Tommy John Surgery, so taking him would be a roll of the dice.
Alex Speas, RHP, Rangers- Speas is a Georgia kid drafted highly out of high school who struggled mightily with command early in his career before moving to the bullpen and needing Tommy John Surgery. He should be good to go in 2021, though he’s closer to the not ready for big league action than a guy who could hold a spot for a year. However he’s a local kid who had some Doc Gooden comps for his stuff out of high school.
Garrett Whitlock, RHP, Yankees- Whitlock brings some prospect pedigree along with enough stuff to hold his own in a small role in 2021. He missed 2019 with injury, but all the stuff is there to grab a pen spot in 2021, then potentially head back to the minors for more development in 2022.