This year’s annual Rule 5 Draft is scheduled to take place tomorrow morning during the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida. As a reminder, the draft is a little bit different now under the new CBA, such as the AA phase of the minor league portion of the draft being eliminated and the cost for a pick in the MLB phase of the draft has doubled to $100,000. Here is a refresher on how a player becomes eligible to be selected in the MLB portion of the draft:
- Players who signed when 18 or younger are eligible for the draft after five years.
- Players who signed when 19 or older are eligible after four years.
- Player is not on the 40 man roster.
- In order for a team to retain a drafted player’s rights, that player must stick on the 25 man roster or the MLB disabled list for the entire season.
Last year the Milwaukee Brewers selected lefty Caleb Smith in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 Draft from the New York Yankees, but they immediately traded his rights to the Cubs for cash considerations. In 2016 they made two selections, infielder Colin Walsh and reliever Zack Jones, though both players were eventually returned to their original organizations.
This year, the Brewers have one spot available on the 40 man roster with which to make a selection. Their pick in the draft is all the way down at #21, however, so they’d likely have to work out a trade with a team ahead of them in the draft order if there’s a particular player that they want to select. According to Adam McCalvy, the Brewers’ brass will get together later this afternoon to decide if they’d like to make a pick in the draft tomorrow or not.
With the organizational switch getting flipped from rebuilding to competing, it will be more difficult for Milwaukee to keep a Rule 5 player on the roster all season in 2018 than it has been in years past. If the Brewers do decide to pick a player, here are a few of the more compelling options:
RHP Nick Burdi (Twins)
Burdi was Minnesota’s 2nd-round pick back in 2014 and has posted some strong results while coming up through the minor leagues, including a 3.20 ERA along with marks of 12.3 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 across 104.0 innings covering 80 career appearances. He was off to an excellent start in AA in 2017 (0.53 ERA, 63 DRA-, 20:4 K/BB in 17.0 IP) before an elbow injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery derailed his season. Burdi’s fastball sits in the upper-90s and has hit triple digits, and he pairs it with a solid slider. He’ll need to begin the season on the disabled list but could make an impact in the bullpen in the 2nd half.
RHP Cale Coshow (Yankees)
Coshow, a former 13th-round pick by the Yankees, reached the AAA level for the first time in his career in 2017 during his age-24 season. A switch to the bullpen full-time helped his stuff tick up, as evidenced by his 11.4 K/9 across 60.0 innings last season versus an 8.4 K/9 career rate. Coshow’s fastball has been clocked as high as 100 MPH and he also offers an above-average slider and decent control, with scouts from Baseball America praising his “clean delivery” despite his monstrous 6’5”, 270 lb frame.
LHP Jordan Guerrero (White Sox)
Guerrero was eligible to be selected in last year’s Rule 5 Draft but was passed over. He returned to the AA level for the White Sox in 2017 and enjoyed a nice season, starting 25 games and tossing 146.1 innings with a 4.18 ERA. That earned run average is a bit misleading, however, as an increase in strikeout rate (up to 8.4 K/9) and decrease in walks (2.6 BB/9) helped him post an outstanding 2.90 FIP/2.64 DRA/64 DRA-. Guerrero is a durable lefty who has tossed at least 130 innings in each of the last three seasons. His fastball sits in the 90-93 MPH range and his changeup receives excellent grades. His breaking ball is lackluster, though, serving to limit his ceiling. The 23 year old could be an intriguing option as back end starter or swingman for a team (like the Brewers) in need of quality innings.
C Max Pentecost (Blue Jays)
Pentecost was Toronto’s 1st-round pick at #11 overall back in 2014, but shoulder problems have caused him issues so far during his career. He has huge offensive potential, and the 24 year old has batted .294/.343/.452 with with 19 home runs in 744 minor league plate appearances (131 wRC+). He missed all of 2015 with injuries and has caught only 30 games as a professional, though he’s thrown out 31% of base runners attempting to steal against him and BA believes he can be an average defensive backstop. He ended 2017 healthy and caught in the Arizona Fall League, but his injury history and the fact that he’s yet to appear above the high-A level are knocks against him in the Rule 5 Draft. Still, Pentecost has one of the highest ceilings of any player available and could be a major risk/reward pick.
OF Victor Reyes (Diamondbacks)
Reyes, 23, is a switch-hitter with a lengthy track record of strong hitting in the minor leagues. He’s batted above .290 in five of his six seasons, although he doesn’t walk a ton and has never hit for much power (just 12 home runs in 561 career games). Reyes is a speedster who has stolen double-digit bases in each of his four years of full-season ball and is capable of playing all three outfield spots. If the Brewers do wind up dealing one of their big league outfielder, Reyes could be a nice fit as a bench bat and utility outfielder.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference