The Rule 5 Draft takes place at 12 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 and is one of the highlights of the Winter Meetings.
The Rule 5 Draft exists to prevent teams from hoarding prospects in their minor league systems when other teams would be willing to give them an opportunity to compete on their major league clubs.
Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft who are not on their major league organization’s 40-man roster and:
were 18 or younger on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is the fifth Rule 5 draft upcoming; or
were 19 or older on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is the fourth Rule 5 draft upcoming.
Each draftee costs $100,000. If the draftee does not stay on the selecting team’s 25-man (major league) roster all season, the player must be offered back to his original team at half-price ($50,000).
There also is a minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft where teams can protect a player on their Triple-A clubs, then Double-A clubs and so on, although this mostly involves lower level prospects and depth options.
This past November at the 40-man roster deadline, the Indians added 1B Bobby Bradley, LHP Sam Hentges and RHP Jean Carlos Mejia to their 40-man roster to prevent those three players from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft this year.
Todd Paquette has compiled a list of all Indians first-year eligible Rule 5 draftees in their minor league system:
#Indians minor league players eligible to be taken during the 2018 Rule 5 MLB Draft this Tuesday (December 13th) in Las Vegas during the winter meetings.#Rule5 #MLBVegas #WinterMeetings pic.twitter.com/k3e1BH2v7s— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) December 9, 2018
Players who have appeared in the Indians prospect rankings include Oscar Gonzalez, Tyler Krieger, Gabriel Mejia, Ka’ai Tom and Mark Mathias. Gonzalez is the top-ranked Tribe prospect that’s available to be selected, but he should be safe considering he only played in Single-A Lake County last season and is still several years away from being MLB-ready, especially with his abysmal walk-rate.
Krieger, Tom and Mathias all played Double-A last year and could be taken, although I’m sure there are better infield and outfield prospects available among the other MLB teams. Connor Marabell also could be selected after having a strong bounce-back season at Double-A plus an impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League.
The players I’m most concerned about losing are relief pitchers Henry Martinez and Dalbert Siri. Martinez broke out last year with dominant stints as the closer in High-A Lynchburg and Double-A Akron before struggling in his promotion to Triple-A. He can hit close to triple digits on the radar gun and a team might be willing to take a chance on him.
Siri spent his whole season in Lynchburg where he held a 2.45 ERA and had 15 saves, striking out 71 batters in 47.2 innings pitched. He didn’t advance as high as Martinez, but he has electric stuff and a team could take a shot on him.
There also is a list of players who are still Rule 5 eligible and either weren’t selected before or they were selected and returned to the Indians.
RHP Erick Algarin
RHP Argenis Angulo
RHP Luis Araujo
LHP Sean Brady
RHP Dominic DeMasi
RHP Kyle Dowdy
RHP Cameron Hill
RHP Luis Jimenez
LHP Rob Kaminsky
RHP Francisco Lopez
RHP Jordan Milbrath
RHP Jared Robinson
LHP David Speer
RHP Cole Sulser
LHP Matt Whitehouse
LHP Randy Valladares
RHP Cesar Ventura
C/1B Sicnarf Loopstok
C Jason Rodriguez
2B Erlin Cerda
Util Jorma Rodriguez
1B Emmanuel Tapia
Util Jose Vicente
OF Mike Papi
Of this list, the player I most fear losing is Kyle Dowdy. Dowdy was the secondary offering as part of the Leonys Martin trade with the Detroit Tigers last season. Scouts reported that Dowdy’s velocity ticked up about 5 mph after he arrived in Cleveland and he was hitting 99 mph during his starts with Double-A Akron, helping the team advance to the playoffs last year. Dowdy is definitely in the mix to get a shot to pitch for the big league club this year as starting pitching depth or even out of the bullpen (as long as no one takes him in the Rule 5 Draft).
Mike Papi is a former Indians first round pick with a good eye at the plate and average offense. He had a decent year last year but has never had that true “breakout” campaign that justified his high draft status. He’s now stuck behind several players the Indians have added for Triple-A and MLB outfield depth.
Rob Kaminsky is a former top 10 Indians prospect, but injuries have dropped his prospect status significantly. He returned in the middle of last season as a southpaw bullpen option for Akron, but has yet to see Triple-A.
The Indians lost Anthony Santander to the Baltimore Orioles two years ago in the Rule 5 Draft. Is there anyone you’re concerned about losing this year?