With no minor-league season due to COVID-19 — and the very future of Minor League Baseball unclear — the Dodgers (and other teams) have some Rule 5 Draft protections to consider before 5 p.m. Pacific time on Nov. 20.
In years past, the Dodgers have added guys like Matt Beaty, Zach McKinstry, Edwin Rios, Keibert Ruiz, Mitch White and so on. This year’s potentially protected players is a little less certain.
Before we get to the list, here’s the criteria for being Rule 5-eligible.
“Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years. All players on a Major League Baseball team’s 40-man roster, regardless of other eligibility factors, are ‘protected’ and ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft.“
Also included are players who were previously Rule 5-eligible who went undrafted. For example, Jordan Sheffield and Cody Thomas were eligible last winter, but went unselected. Since neither have (as yet) been added to the 40-man roster, both are currently eligible.
Here’s a list of newly eligible prospects.
- OF Donovan Casey
- 2B Omar Estevez
- OF Jeren Kendall
- OF/1B Zach Reks
- SS Leonel Valera
- 1B/3B Justin Yurchak
- RHP Gerardo Carrillo
- RHP Brett de Geus
- RHP Andre Jackson
- RHP Marshall Kasowski
- LHP Logan Salow
- RHP Edwin Uceta
- RHP Guillermo Zuniga
Not a lot of clear additions. The lack of a minor-league season means the players didn’t get a chance to show any improvement from their 2019 seasons. It also means some of the younger guys on the list (Carrillo, Valera, Zuniga) missed a year of development at more advanced levels. Carrillo might be the best pitching prospect of the lot, but aside from some looks in Spring Training, he didn’t get a chance to show much.
Kendall was the Dodgers’ 1st-rounder in 2017 and, to put it bluntly, has been a bust so far. He fell to the Dodgers in that draft, looked like a steal, but the player development staff hasn’t been able to fix his terrible swing deficiencies. He would have been an easy add if he even had a 40/45-grade hit tool.
Pedro Moura wrote he expects the Dodgers will add Estevez, which is the easiest add in my eyes. The former $6 million signing plays up the middle, hits right handed and has shown improvement as he has progressed. He also identified Reks as a potential add.
On the pitching side, Kasowski is probably closest to the majors, as he dominated Double-A in 2019. He could be added, especially since the Dodgers might lose (at least) a couple right-handers out of the 2020 bullpen (Pedro Baez, Blake Treinen). As I said before, Carrillo is very talented, but the 22-year-old missed a chance to show-out at Dobule-A. Same goes for Jackson, who was coming off a strong 2019 season. I’m not sure the Dodgers add him. Conversely, I’m not sure any team takes a chance on one of them considering the lack of data and video on any kind of 2020 performance at the alternate training site.
Salow and de Geus are interesting relievers in their own right. Salow isn’t a particularly hard-throwing lefty, but he is murder on them. Meanwhile, de Geus burst onto the scene in 2019 after being a 33rd-round draft pick in 2017. He had a 1.75 ERA and a 29.7 K% between Low-A Great Lakes and High-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2019. He also threw 9 1/3 scoreless innings in the Arizona Fall League after that strong showing. If there had been a 2020 MiLB season and he performed well, he would have been an easy addition, too.
Uceta had a strong showing in Spring Training, but he was suspended in August due to breaking COVID-19 rules while at the alternative site. He has since been assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in a procedural move. He’s talented and could be attractive to other teams, but the suspension could scare some teams off.
The Dodgers currently have 34 players on their 40-man roster. There will be some roster turnover this winter, so they may not be able to add as many prospects they want. They could also trade or waive/outright guys like DJ Peters, Luke Raley or Josh Sborz, should they so choose.
Estevez is going to be added. Reks is possible, too, even if he seems a bit redundant with Beaty, Raley and, to a lesser extent, Rios already on the 40-man. I could see one or two of the pitchers being added (Carrillo, de Geus, Jackson, Kasowski, Uceta), but it’s far from certain.
The Rule 5 Draft is Dec. 10. I don’t suspect the Dodgers will be using their selection in the MLB phase.