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Twins protect three pitchers from Rule 5 draft

Stephen Gonsalves, Lewis Thorpe, and Zack Littell were all added to the 40-man roster. Another eight guys were not.

Minnesota Twins Photo Day
You are free and safe, Gonsalves.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Today was the deadline for MLB teams to add prospects to their 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft, which will take place December 14th. As you likely know, the Rule 5 draft is the thing where teams can claim unprotected players (i.e., not on the 40-man) from other organizations, and then the claimed players have to stay on the claiming teams’ big league rosters for the entire next year. This is where I will point out the Twins got Johan Santana in the Rule 5 draft.

The Twins had eleven minor leaguers potentially subject to the Rule 5 draft this year: Stephen Gonsalves, Jake Reed, Zack Littell, Lewin Diaz, Kohl Stewart, Nick Burdi, Lewis Thorpe, Ryan Eades, Brian Navarreto, Mason Melotakis, and Luke Bard.

The Twins protected three of these players by adding them to the 40-man roster: Gonsalves, Thorpe, and Littell.

Gonsalves, 22, was pretty much a slam dunk here. He’s one of, if not the, best pitching prospect in the Twins have, and will likely make his big league debut sometime in 2018. Adding him to the 40-man roster was a no brainer.

Thorpe, who turns 22 on Thursday, is a young left-hander with a lot of upside. Over 77.0 innings in High-A Ft. Myers last year, Thorpe posed a nice 2.69 ERA with 84 strike outs and 31 walks. Though he missed two seasons due to injury, Thorpe is still pretty damn young, and protecting him makes sense.

Littell, 22, is the younger and better half of the return the Twins got in the Jaime Garcia trade with the Yankees. After coming over to the organization mid season, Littell pitched 41.2 innings for the Double-A Lookouts with a 2.81 ERA and 33 strikeouts. Of course he was protected — the Twins wouldn’t just give up week-long Twin Jaime Garcia for nothing!

With the addition of these three players, the Twins 40-man roster now stands at 36. So, had the Twins really wanted to, they could have protected more of these guys, but there were reasons not to in most cases:

  • Lewin Diaz hasn’t played above Low-A, so it’s hard to imagine any team drafting him and keeping him on the big league roster all year.
  • Nick Burdi is still recovering from Tommy John earlier this year. Who’d want to claim an injured guy?
  • Mason Melotakis was removed from the 40-man roster earlier this year, and passed through waivers unclaimed. Hard to see any team suddenly claiming him now.
  • Ryan Eades and Jake Reed are both already 25 years old, which may either entice other teams to claim them or show that expectations for them are low.
  • Luke Bard is already 27 years old and has oblt pitched 13.0 innings above Double-A.
  • Kohl Stewart has developed much slower than anticipated.

So on and so fourth...

Another interesting aspect: The Twins also need 40-man roster space in case they sign a free agent or make a trade. Leaving four open spots could indicate they are planning to do just that, though they’ve already said as much publicly, so that’s not the biggest surprise.

Think the Twins made the right decisions?