Saturday, August 12, 2017

Looking Ahead to 2018: Rule 5 Draft Eligible Players

We have been sneaking ahead and looking ahead at the 2018 season a little bit here on the blog and I wanted to take the opportunity to do so again here this weekend. This time around I wanted to take a look at the Yankees Rule 5 Draft eligible players and take a stab at who I think will ultimately be added to the 40-man roster and protected, who will be left out there for any and all teams to choose in the draft and who I think could be on the trading block this winter because of the Yankees 40-man roster crunch. These are all opinion-based as I have no inside information to the team so take these predictions and opinions as such and enjoy.

Rule 5 Eligible Prospects

1. OF Jake Cave
2. OF Billy McKinney
3. SP Daniel Camarena
4. SP/RP Stephen Tarpley
5. SP Brady Lail
6. 1B Mike Ford
7. OF Rashad Crawford
8. SP Austin DeCarr
9. SP Domingo Acevedo
10. OF Mark Payton
11. SS Abiatal Avelino
12. OF Devyn Bolasky
13. INF Thairo Estrada
14. RP J.P. Feyereisen
15. SP/RP Nestor Cortes
16. SP Albert Abreu
17. RP Cale Coshow
18. 2B Gosuke Katoh

The complete list of eligible Rule 5 Draft players is here including who could be taken in the Minor League portion of the Draft but I wanted to solely focus on the Major League portion on this blog post. Big shout out to Pinstriped Prospects for their hard work and the information.

The Yankees hardest decision of the winter will likely come down to which one of their two high-upside outfielders to protect in the Rule 5 Draft, Jake Cave or Billy McKinney. Cave has been left unprotected for two consecutive seasons and was taken once by the Cincinnati Reds before ultimately being returned before the beginning of the season. McKinney will be faced with this for the first time in his MLB career after coming over to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal. Both have been hitting well at Triple-A and both face an outfield roster crunch in front of them in the Bronx so it’s conceivable that both could be left unprotected, although very highly unlikely, although at the end of the day I think the team will decide to protect McKinney. If unprotected I think Cave will be selected and will be able to stick with an MLB team like the New York Mets for the entirety of 2018. Just a hunch.

Daniel Camarena will likely be protected as he is a 24-year old left-handed starting pitching option for the Yankees going forward. While he doesn’t come with the same upside as a Chance Adams he is likely a better long-term option than Caleb Smith in my opinion. I’d say Camarena is as close to a no-brainer as it gets as far as protecting prospects this winter. Stephen Tarpley was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Ivan Nova deal and hasn’t pitched above High-A Ball so I find it highly unlikely he would be picked up, even if he is 24-years old.

Brady Lail has been pitching in Triple-A for what feels like forever but has yet to really dominate the league which leads me to believe the Yankees will likely leave him unprotected, and he will likely be picked up too. Nothing wrong with giving a guy like Lail who has upside but has yet to put it together a spring training camp to prove himself. With the Yankees lack of first base depth I have to think that Mike Ford could be protected this offseason but it really depends on what the Yankees think of Garrett Cooper. If they think Cooper can be the man in the Bronx and a suitable backup and insurance for Greg Bird than Ford may be left unprotected but I think at the end of the day Ford will be protected. If unprotected I can definitely see the power hitter being selected and hidden on a MLB roster for the entirety of the 2018 season.

Rashad Crawford came back in the Aroldis Chapman trade last year with the Chicago Cubs and has struggled to handle Double-A pitching meaning he will likely be left unprotected. Austin DeCarr has also not pitched above A-ball after missing the entire 2015 season with Tommy John surgery and will also be left unprotected if I were a betting man. Domingo Acevedo seems like the biggest no-brainer on the list to protect. Acevedo may not be ready to start at the Major League level but I am sure there is more than one team that would be willing to give Acevedo a shot in the bullpen as a 25th man on a roster if it meant holding into that 103 MPH flame-throwing arm for more than a season.

Mark Payton will likely be left unprotected and will likely be taken in the draft due to the Yankees logjam in the outfield. Payton, 25-years old, was hitting .269 at Triple-A at last check and can play all three outfield positions making him super useful for a National League team that could use his speed and versatility off the bench. Abi Avelino has been in the Yankees system for what feels like forever now but is somehow still just at Double-A at the time of this writing. Avelino has played in 20 games at the Triple-A level but never seemingly caught on as he hit just .213 there which will likely leave him unprotected and not chosen in this year’s draft. The same can be said for outfielder Devyn Bolasky who is hanging around the Mendoza Line at Double-A this season. He will be left unprotected and will not be chosen this offseason.

Thairo Estrada may be one of the better and top rated shortstops in the Yankees system not that Gleyber Torres has moved on to third base and Jorge Mateo has been traded to the Oakland Athletics. Estrada is 21-years old and currently tearing up Double-A pitching which leads me to believe that the Yankees could protect him this winter. Sure, he is in Double-A right now but by the end of the season he could be at Triple-A if he keeps up his torrid pace. Meanwhile J.P. Feyereisen, the relief pitcher who was acquired in the Cleveland Indians trade for Andrew Miller last season, has split time between Double-A and Triple-A this season posting a 2.73 ERA with four saves in 29 appearances and is considered by many to be Major League ready. If the team wants to keep him, and I think that they will, they need to protect him because another team will snatch him up and put him on their roster in a heartbeat. I can guarantee that.

Nestor Cortes is a left-handed bullpen arm that is considered to be MLB ready at this point which leads me to believe that he may be protected this winter by the Yankees. Cortes is 22-years old and has pitched well at Double-A and Triple-A this season so if the Yankees did not protect him, and trust me… they will, he would definitely be taken and stashed in someone else’s bullpen for the 2018 season. Cortes also ranks higher in my opinion than Caleb Smith and others in the Yankees farm system so holding onto him should be a priority.

Albert Abreu was acquired from the Houston Astros this offseason in the Brian McCann trade and was immediately placed on most publications Top 10 Yankees Prospects list. Abreu hasn’t pitched above A-Ball in his minor league career but is too much of a talent with too much upside to not be protected. Not protecting Abreu is like playing with fire, and kids that’s never good. If you think I’m crazy for saying so see how that worked out for the Yankees with Luis Torrens, one of their top catching prospects, in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft. Torrens never played above A-Ball either but a team like the San Diego Padres can afford to take him and stash him with no playoffs or contention in sight. The Yankees don’t want and can’t afford for lightning to strike twice here. Protect him.

Coshow has been closing games for the Trenton Thunder in Double-A and at the time of this writing has compiled 14 saves in 17 opportunities with 62 strikeouts in 48.1 innings pitched. Coshow gives up too many hits though and makes David Robertson look like a lockdown and dominant closer, and all this before Coshow has even reached Triple-A. I can’t see Coshow getting protected and honestly I don’t think he should be either. Finally we have Gosuke Katoh who was the Yankees second round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. Katoh has not played above High-A ball and may not even get to Double-A this season. At last check Katoh was hitting .282 but there is little to no chance he gets protected or taken in the Rule 5 Draft next year.

So kudos to anyone and everyone who read that book of a post but if you didn’t here is the long and the skinny of the situation. The Yankees have a lot of guys they need to protect and the team may lose 3-5 prospects this winter in the draft if they don’t. The work is never done.

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