As the November 20 deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft has come and gone, teams now have an opportunity to decide whether or not to make a selection out of who’s available. Luckily for teams around the league, a bountiful draft appears likely as there are multiple players available who seem as though they could help teams out immediately in some capacity. I have identified six guys who I would expect to draw selections and produce at a reasonably solid level in 2019.
Infielder Richie Martin (Oakland Athletics, 24 years old)
Martin has long been a favorite of mine, since he was drafted out of Florida back in 2015. He was the guy who I would have taken based on the fact that his glove never carried much doubt, and the hit tool was good enough to compliment the glove. While his first few seasons in Oakland didn’t necessarily go as planned, he really turned it on this season slashing .300/.368/.439 with 25 stolen bases and six home runs. If selected, I would imagine Martin would serve as a defense first utility infielder. My projections for the 2019 season have Martin slashing .219/.293/.334 (.627 OPS). While that amounts to 13.87% below the league average in terms of OPS (2018 average coming in at .728), his glove based on range factor was 14.87% above average at short, and 18.45% above average at second. While the bat carries a bit more weight in terms of overall value, Martin’s numbers come in just below the average 0%, which isn’t bad for a player who would be making the jump from Double-A. His play time would obviously depend on where he went, but if selected early enough by a rebuilding team, his play time could be rather significant.
First Baseman Josh Ockimey (Boston Red Sox, 23 years old)
First basemen are aren’t necessarily very common in the Rule 5 Draft, and when selected, don’t usually stick (See Mike Ford). The reason for this is the fact that first basemen don’t necessarily carry much defensive value based on a lack of versatility, and the prospect of a Rule 5 draft hitting immediately is unlikely. This essentially means that teams who select a first base type are typically riding with a 24-man roster. Ockimey, who was a first round pick in 2014, has the plate discipline and power to keep his OPS up regardless of his batting average. My projections have him hitting .208/.310/.395 (.706 OPS), and while his projected strikeout rate sits at 29.44%, his walk projection looks likely to be an excellent 13.29%, and counting stats, over a projected 59 game sample size, has eleven doubles and eight homers, with a 162 game projection of 31 doubles and 23 home runs. Defensively, we’re looking at a (-2.47%) with a (-3.02%) offensive value coming up with a (-4.50%) overall. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider it to be all that likely that he is selected, if selected and stashed in 2019, he could be an excellent first baseman come 2021.The Rule 5 draft has produced a plethora of surprising stars across @MLB. @OrsattiJoe looks at the best available draft candidates in 2019.Click To Tweet
Center Fielder Donnie Dewees (Kansas City Royals, 25 years old)
This is a guy who I have not heard anything about in regard to the Rule 5 Draft, and may draw some eye-rolls, but stay with me. While Martin was my first round mock pick in 2015, Dewees was my second, due to plus defense and speed. His offensive projections aren’t necessarily that great, as I have him slashing .229/.277/.358 (.635), with four home runs and eleven stolen bases over a 67 game projection, and over a 162 game projection, ten home runs and 26 stolen bases. His defense, on the other hand, has been excellent in terms of performance, as he has outplayed many expectations there. I calculated his value in center field at an outstanding 22.18% above average based on an excellent range factor. Even despite a well below average offensive value rate (-12.77%), his overall value lands slightly above average at +0.53%. He’s the type of guy who would serve as a serviceable fourth outfielder and stick relatively easily in 2019, while bringing a ceiling of Jarrod Dyson.
Right-Handed Pitcher Tom Eshelman (Philadelphia Phillies, 24 years old)
Eshelman’s numbers weren’t very good last season, but once you take into account the fact that opposing hitters had a .356 BABip against him, it definitely instills faith in a rebound. The 2017 minor league pitch of the year for the Phillies brings with him elite control and a rather nice cutter. His biggest problem will be the home run ball, but he’s polished and major league ready, and could begin the season at the back of a non-contending team’s rotation. My projections have him posting a 4.25 ERA over 103 innings pitched with a 2.21 BB/9, a 1.05 HR/9 and a 7.26 K/9, which comes to (-2.46%) in regard to league average. On a contender, he would probably serve as a swing and eventually be in the running to serve as a four starter.
Left-Handed Pitcher Brandon Waddell (Pittsburgh Pirates, 24 years old)
Going by the projections alone, Waddell is the best option available in the Rule 5 Draft. While the 24-year old isn’t an ace by any means, he’s a left-handed pitcher who is major league ready, and is solid in essentially every aspect of the word. He induces a lot of ground balls, generates an average amount of strikeouts, and boasts average control. My projections have him posting a 3.77 ERA over 74.2 innings pitched with 0.5 HR/9, 3.73 BB/9 and 7.58 K/9, amounting to a mark of 10.12% above average. His Rule 5 outlook is similar to Eshelman’s, but stands a better chance of making it into a contender’s rotation earlier. The fact that he’s a lefty also helps his case.
Infielder Drew Jackson (Los Angeles Dodgers, 25-years old)
While Waddell looks like the “best” option, Jackson may have the highest ceiling. The 25-year old infielder is a defensive wizard with strong plate discipline and the potential to reach 20-home run, 40-stolen base numbers as he gains more experience. While his batting average may never be considerably higher than average, his OPS figures to remain high, and he brings with him a rather sustainable skill set. While he has never played above Double-A, at 25-years old, he’s rather close to league ready. My projections (over a 69 game sample size) have him slashing .219/.311/.372 with seven home runs and 16 stolen bases, with his 162-game rate coming in at 17 homers and 37 stolen bases. While this first year offensive rate comes out to 6.18% below average, his glove at second rates 18.97% above average and at shortstop, 10.92% above average. This brings his overall ratings to 5.20% above average at second and 0.37% above average at short. Keep in mind, these projections are considering that he has never played above Double-A. The ceiling is much higher once he gets some experience under his belt.
Minor League Rule 5 Draft Candidates
While we don’t know who will become available in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, as it is based on minor league reserve lists, I decided to take a crack at guessing who could become available. Most of the guys who would be selected here are young and probably below Double-A, meaning they would be exceptionally difficult to project.
- Right-handed starter Gerson Garabito (Kansas City Royals, Class A Advanced, 23-years old)
- First baseman/second baseman Will Maddox (Detroit Tigers, Double-A, 26-years old)
- Left-handed starter Dedgar Jimenez (Boston Red Sox, Double-A, 22-years old)
- Right-handed starter Hildemaro Requena (Boston Red Sox, Class A Advanced, 21-years old)
- Second baseman Kirvin Moesquit (Baltimore Orioles, Class A Advanced, 24-years old)
- Outfielder Mike Papi (Cleveland Indians, Triple-A, 26-years old)
- Third baseman Damek Tomscha (Philadelphia Phillies, Triple-A, 27-years old)