The Rule 5 draft is just a few weeks away, and the deadline to protect eligible prospects is this Friday. What is the Rule 5 draft? If you stick around in the minors long enough, you become eligible for it. In order to protect a player from the Rule 5 draft, a team must add him to is 40-man roster. A player selected in the draft must then remain on his new team’s 25-man roster for the full season, or else he gets returned to his original organization after passing through waivers.
The Rule 5 draft falls into the category of offseason minutiae, but if you follow the Mets’ minor league system at all, it should interest you. As I calculate it, the Mets currently have 34 players on the 40-man roster. Let’s take a look at the guys the Mets will think about protecting—and hat tip to tpgMets for doing the heavy lifting.
No doubt about it
Amed Rosario — Rosario is a top ten prospect in all of baseball at this point, so it’s a safe bet he’ll be added to the 40. I might be more bullish on him than others, but I expect him to be knocking on the door to the majors come Memorial Day.
Probably getting added
Marcos Molina — Post-hype prospect recovered from Tommy John surgery and currently working in the low-90s in the Arizona Fall League? Yeah, this is exactly the kind of player who gets popped in the Rule 5; a live arm you can hide in the pen for a year. Molina’s actually better than the Matt Bowmans and Sean Gilmartins of the world because he has a mid-rotation starter ceiling.
Tomas Nido — As we’ve discussed, Nido had a breakout year with the bat in 2016, and plays good defense at a premium position: catcher. The state of backup catching in the majors is such that almost any team can afford to take a chance on a player like this, let alone any of the various teams in the throes of a rebuild.
Others are convinced, I’m less so
Wuilmer Becerra — I just don’t see how he can stay rostered for a full season on a 25-man roster. He’s coming off of shoulder surgery following a weird year in which he hit for average but no power. He can play a decent corner outfield, but I don’t see how he can hit enough to stick and this type of profile is harder to hide than the last man in the bullpen. That said, it’s probably better than 50/50 he gets added.
I’m convinced, others less so
Ricky Knapp — Knapp is my guy. I may look silly in the end, but I like his potential. He doesn’t fit the usual profile that gets selected in the Rule 5. He’s more of a good control, sum-of-parts-is-greater-than-the-whole guy, who we can dream on adding some velocity. The profile that gets snapped up in this draft is the starter whose stuff will play up in shorter bursts in the pen. That’s not Knapp, but then again, that wasn’t Matt Bowman, either. He’ll probably be the Mets’ 7th starter come Opening Day, and that’s someone I want to hang onto.
Wouldn’t shock me
Phil Evans — He can hit for average, at least in a half-season in Binghamton, and can play around the infield a bit, so it’s not outrageous to think some second-division club might take him. There a few players ahead of him on the org chart right now, but if you believe Gavin Cecchini is a right-side-only infielder, as I do, then it might not be the worst idea to protect Evans.
Chris Flexen — He throws in the mid-90s and has a breaking ball—at least he did in 2015, we didn’t get any reports on him in 2016. So he does fit the bill as someone you could hide in the bullpen for a year.
Kevin McGowan — He reportedly touches 95, and, well, that’s about it.
Others worth mentioning
Corey Oswalt sits in the low-90s and has been pitching okay out in the AFL. My boy, Jeff McNeil, missed pretty much all of 2016 with a sports hernia and is probably not getting drafted, but is worth mentioning. Luis Mateo throws in the low-90s and has a workable slider. Champ Stuart is eligible for the first time and has the only 80-grade tool in the system. The only problem is he can’t really hit. Nabil Crismatt is first-time eligible, and while we like him, this just isn’t the type of profile that gets scooped.
If I had to bet on who gets added I would go with Rosario, Molina, Nido, Becerra, and Flexen, but they’ll probably add someone weird, like Christian Montgomery, because there’s always one surprise.