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Who could the Twins lose in the Rule 5 draft?

For the first time in a while, we can legitimately say that the Twins could lose a couple of players.

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Most years the conversation heading into the Rule 5 draft goes a little something like this:

Person 1: "Hey, so the Twins could lose Player X, Player Y, and Player Z in the Rule 5 draft because the Twins didn't protect them."

Person 2: "Really? So, how much worse will the team be?"

Person 1: "Oh...not any worse at all, really. They wouldn't be playing anyway, and if they did they'd be pretty terrible. So...nevermind."

This time around though, the Twins could lose some depth. Are they players who deserve to be on the 40-man roster? I'd argue that some of them should be. But they're not, and as a result these are the guys who the Twins stand to lose in the Major League phase of the Rule 5.

Jason Adam, RHP
2015 Age: 23
2014 high level: Double-A

After coming to Minnesota from Kansas City in return for Josh Willingham, Adam - who had been the Royals' number nine prospect heading into the season according to Baseball America - was sent to the Arizona Fall League. He struggled there, certainly moreso than any other Twins prospect in the AFL, posting a 5.40 ERA in 13.1 innings while allowing more than two base runners per inning.

His role in 2015 would likely see him shifting between Double and Triple-A, posing as notable minor league depth but not a pitcher for whom the Twins would immediately want to find a space. Will another team be willing to find a place in their bullpen for a year-long stash? It would take a strong endorsement from a scout or someone in an interested team's front office. Still, his performance has been lacking and his stuff hasn't played as well as it could have. I'd have to imagine the team would attempt to protect him in the Triple-A minor league phase of the Rule 5.

Sean Gilmartin, LHP
2015 Age: 25
2014 high level: Triple-A

After spending just one season in Minnesota's farm system, following his arrival in Atlanta's half of the Ryan Doumit trade, Gilmartin is going to be a popular target. He's left-handed, was a first round draft pick in 2011, and now that he has a full healthy season under his belt with a more than solid performance, who would't try to keep him on the 25-man roster?

Not the Twins, who already have six or seven pitchers vying for the rotation and more than enough arms to fill out a good bullpen. Would I rather have him on the 40-man than A.J. Achter, Logan Darnell, Stephen Pryor, or Aaron Thompson? Not necessarily. But I'm also not convinced he couldn't do the exact same thing as Brian Duensing.

Cole Johnson, RHP
2015 Age: 26
2014 high level: Double-A

For the last year and a half, Johnson has been dominating at Double-A. He's posted a 4.03 ERA at the level, but he's struck out 130 in 112 innings and walked 36 with a 1.27 WHIP. If he's not taken, he's likely to be in Rochester's bullpen in 2015 and, if he pitches well, would be one phone call away from Minnesota.

In spite of not getting a lot of play in terms of guys who the Twins might lose in the Rule 5, his age, performance, and proximity to the Majors should make him an attractive option for any bullpen looking for help. The only question is: how close to being MLB-ready is Johnson? Is there a reason he wasn't promoted to Triple-A in the midst of such a strong campaign?

Levi Michael, 2B
2015 Age: 24
2014 high level: Double-A

As the 30th overall pick in 2011, Michael was supposed to be a high floor, low ceiling middle infielder who would move quickly. At the time of his selection, the future of Minnesota's middle infield was grim. That's changed quite a bit in the interim, and Michael's performance hasn't merited promotion until this season.

Michael's status and good season plays in his favor, but as a guy who is almost 24 and who has barely had a sniff of Double-A, it would be a big risk for anyone to keep him on their bench all season. If there's a National League team that runs an 11-man pitching staff, maybe a six-man bench provides Michael the opportunity to be stashed, but that all seems fairly unlikely. Still, he could be taken in the Triple-A phase if he's not protected.

Ryan O'Rourke, LHP
2015 Age: 27
2014 high level: Triple-A

A teammate of Johnson's in 2014, O'Rourke is another slow-moving reliever who has posted some pretty good number but who hasn't moved as quickly as those numbers suggest he could. The issue is O'Rourke's splits, as he is continually pounded by right-handed hitters and continually owns left-handed hitters.

Would a Major League team stash him on their roster? Even with just one appearance in Triple-A, he's been relatively close to the big league club at Double-A for the last two years. If a team wants a lefty specialist, they could probably roll with O'Rourke from day one and, for 30 or 40 innings of work all year, not do terribly. He has appeal in a LOOGY role, but is he so much better than any other club's internal options that he's worth taking in the Rule 5?

Adrian Salcedo, RHP
2015 Age: 24
2014 high level: Double-A

Salcedo's tough start to 2014 kind of torpedoed his chance to maintain an upward trajectory as a Twins relief prospect. Additionally, he'd been a very slow mover through the system and only this past summer did he finally see Double-A. That's a snail's pace for a guy who's been in the system since 2008 and who has been in the domestic circuit since 2010.

If someone thinks that Salcedo's shoulder issues are in the past or, at the very least, manageable, then they could look to bank on a fairly well-developed arsenal and put him in the bullpen. Again, he's also a threat to go in the Triple-A phase.