The Rule 5 draft is notable because fans tend to worry that their favorite club won't protect enough players, or that some of their unprotected players will be stolen. That doesn't often happen, since we tend to overrate our own assets as fans, but perhaps in 2015 things could be different.
Then again, we always think things are different. What's actually different for the Twins in regards to the 2015 Rule 5 is that so many well-known prospects are suddenly eligible.
To be eligible, a player who was 18 years old or younger on the 5th of June prior to their draft day/signing must be approaching their fifth Rule 5 draft. Players who were 19 or older on the 54th of June prior to their draft day/signing must be approaching their fourth Rule 5 draft. As a general rule, this means that collegiate picks from 2012 and prep selections from 2011 are eligible.
Here's your breakdown of the best players eligible for this year's event.
2012 Collegiate Draftees
Players already on the 40-man roster from Minnesota's 2012 draft class include Byron Buxton and Tyler Duffey.
|Name||Round||Overall||2016 Age||2015 High Level||Notes|
|Luke Bard||1s||42||25||Cedar Rapids (A)||Finally healthy, 2.41 ERA, 52.1 IP|
|Mason Melotakis||2||63||24||-||Did Not Play, Tommy John surgery|
|J.T. Chargois||2||72||25||Chattanooga (AA)||Finally healthy, 2.62 ERA, 48 IP|
|Adam Walker||3||97||24||Chattanooga (AA)||Led Southern League with 31 HR, 195 K|
|Zack Jones||4||130||25||Chattanooga (AA)||Nearly MLB ready - being held back?|
|D.J. Baxendale||10||310||25||Chattanooga (AA)||Much improved, 3.80 ERA, 118.1 IP|
|Traylor Rogers||11||340||25||Rochester (AAA)||Nearly MLB ready, 3.98 ERA, 174 IP|
|Dalton (D.J.) Hicks||17||520||26||Chattanooga (AA)||Regressed in 2015|
If that group seems older on the whole, of course they are: collegiate draft picks who don't make immediate impacts will be in their mid-20s by the time they need to be added to the 40-man roster.
The 2012 draft saw the Twins select a number of talented relievers. Bard couldn't stay healthy over his first three seasons, giving Minnesota just 19.1 innings in 2012 and 2013 before missing all of 2014. Finally good enough to contribute this season, Bard was placed in Cedar Rapids and excelled in 28 relief appearances. Chargois' tale is similar, looking good in 16 innings in his draft season but then missing all of 2013 and 2014. He was challenged at Double-A this year and pitched very well. Melotakis was the pitcher with the injury bug this year, and should be available to pitch at some point in 2016. Finally, Jones had a full healthy season in 2015 but had a few bad appearances set him back a little bit. Overall, this is still a very talented group. Two of them, probably Chargois and Jones, could potentially help the Twins' bullpen in 2016.
Rogers and Baxendale are the starters of the group. Rogers was unremarkable but solid and had a great first couple months of the year. Baxendale had a good bounce-back season after a disappointing 2014.
Finally, the two position players of the group. Hicks seems to have lost some potential after a poor season. But Walker, as we all know, had a hell of a year in Double-A thanks to some stellar power that translated into an impressive 31 home runs. But can he make enough contact going forward?
2011 Prep Draftees
Oddly enough, no member of the Twins' 2011 draft class has made any kind of contribution to the Major League team. Jason Wheeler was on the 40-man roster, but was outrighted on September 1.
|Name||Round||Overall||2016 Age||2015 High Level||Notes|
|Travis Harrison||1s||50||23||Chattanooga (AA)||Stock dropping, all-around performance drop|
Harrison hit .301/.383/.461 in Elizabethton in 2012, which made everyone sit up and take notice of a player who - at the time - was playing third base. Unfortunately his performance over the last couple of seasons has put his prospect status into a tailspin.
2010-2011 Period International Signings
We've heard about all three of these players, but none have been able to hit the fast track yet.
|Name||Signed||2016 Age||2015 High Level||Notes|
|Felix Jorge||2011 (DO)||22||Cedar Rapids (A)||$250,000 signing, 2.79 ERA, 142 IP|
|Randy Rosario||2010 (DO)||22||Cedar Rapids (A)||3.52 ERA, 53.2 IP with CR|
Both of these prospects have a lot of promise. Rosario has had impressive seasons in the system, owning a 3.02 ERA through five years and 191 innings pitched; he missed most of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery. And then there's Jorge, who broke through with an incredible performance in 2013, took a step backward in 2014, and who in 2015 had a return to form with a 2.79 ERA in 142 innings. Each are valuable prospects; each are probably too far away from the Majors.
- Alex Wimmers (2010 collegiate): 4.53 ERA in Chattanooga; will be 27 in 2016
- Niko Goodrum (2010 prep): Infielder with strong arm, good athlete and speed, not much bat; will be 24
- Pat Dean (2010 collegiate): 2.82 ERA in 27 starts for Rochester; will be 27
- Brett Lee (2011 JuCo): 3.16 ERA between Fort Myers and Chattanooga in 22 starts; will be 25
- Levi Michael (2011 collegiate): .804 OPS as second baseman in Double-A; will be 25
- Jason Wheeler (2011 collegiate): 5.43 ERA between Chattanooga and Rochester; will be 25
- Tim Shibuya (2011 collegiate): 3.57 ERA between Fort Myers, Chattanooga and Rochester; will be 26
- Cole Johnson (2011 collegiate): 3.29 ERA between Chattanooga and Rochester; 48 K in 52 IP; will be 27
We'll take another look closer to November 20, which is the date by which teams must protect their prospects on the 40-man roster or leave them open for the Rule 5 draft, but until then this is my best guess for the chances of each player to be protected.
Good bets (3): Walker, Rogers, Michael
Deserve consideration (5): Bard, Chargois, Jones, Baxendale, Johnson
Unlikelies (11): Melotakis, Hicks, Harrison, Jorge, Rosario, Wimmers, Goodrum, Dean, Lee, Wheeler, Shibuya
For the players listed as unlikely to be protected, we're looking at a group of prospects who have either been disappointing, have been recently injured, or are considered talented but too far away from being Major League ready to be stashed on a club's active roster for 90 days in 2016.
As for the rest, I think that all three of my good bets stand at least a marginal chance of being taken in the Rule 5. Walker's power is seductive; Rogers looks like he's ready for the next level; Michael's game has really come on these last two years and looks like he could be better than a minimal bat at a middle infield spot. Any of the players categorized as deserving of consideration could contribute to Minnesota's bullpen efforts in 2016, with Chargois and Jones leading the charge in my opinion. Bard and Baxendale could be passed over still and perhaps Johnson wouldn't be missed, but there's still something to like about all five of those relievers.
Is there someone I didn't mention that should be considered, or do you have a different opinion of which direction the Twins should go?