Baseball’s Rule 5 draft takes place this Thursday, as the annual winter meetings draw to a close.
The Blue Jays have been participants in the past two Rule 5s, striking paydirt with Joe Biagini two years ago, but whiffing on Glenn Sparkman last year.
It’s impossible to predict who the Blue Jays might be considering, but given their depth at several everyday positions and starting pitching, it’s safe to say they may look at adding another arm – and there are many availabe. With the 12th pick, some of the better candidates may be off the board, however. One off-the-radar pick might be Tampa C Nick Ciuffo, who like Stu Turner with the Reds last year, might stick as a back up. One of Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire are the favourites at the moment to back Russ Martin up, but Ciuffo might help buy both a little more development time. Another name which might intrigue the Jays is Twins RHP Kohl Stewart. Stewart, the 4th overall pick in 2013, has a blazing fastball, but troubles repeating his delivery have led to high walk totals throughout his pro career. If the Jays are serious about contending in 2018, they likely won’t take a chance on this talented but enigmatic pitcher.
What is possible to forecast is who might be taken among the players the Blue Jays chose to leave off their 40-man roster last month. There are several players who might be selected:
- C/1B Max Pentecost was something of a surprise omission from the 40, but the Blue Jays are obviously gambling that his history of shoulder issues will dissuade teams from taking him. There have been some reports that some teams might consider selecting him and stashing him on the 60 day DL, but it’s hard to see how that will be beneficial to his development. Pentecost is a premium athlete, but he needs more time in the minors.
- OF Roemon Fields has elite speed, but has struggled to get on base throughout his minor league career. This year, he managed a .344 OBP between Buffalo and New Hampshire – maybe not enough for the top of an order, but certainly a good fit for the singles hitters that tend to populate the bottom of most batting orders. Fields can play all three OF positions, and his 50 steals this season underscore his speed.
- OF Jonathan Davis has quietly gotten on base at every level he’s played at. Like Fields, he can play all three OF spots, and unlike Fields has some pop in his bat. Davis has speed, but is not in Fields’ category. Both could profile as fourth outfielder types. Davis opened some eyes in the Arizona Fall League.
- Jordan Romano RHP the Markham, ON native has pitched in a starter’s role well since returning from Tommy John surgery in May, 2016. But his command may concern some, and for those considering converting him to a relief role, he’s never pitched above High A. There is probably too much pitching depth in this draft for Romano to be selected.
- Emerson Jimenez RHP if you’ve never heard of Jimenez before, don’t be alarmed – few Blue Jays fans have. Originally signed as an OF by the Rockies in 2012, he advanced as far as AA before being released in May. Toronto signed him, and sent Jimenez to the Gulf Coast League to begin his conversion to the mound. Pitching exclusively in relief, he fanned 23 in 15 innings. Jimenez is raw in Pitching terms, but his fastball sits 94-99, and his change up has been described as surprisingly advanced.
- Francisco Rios RHP Rios had success as a starter in the lower levels, but struggled in AA this year. Rios sits 90-92, but has some deception with his delivery, and has a slider that would play role in a relief role with that fastball, which would likely tick up. Again, with the depth of this draft crop, it’s hard to see a team selecting Rios.
I really enjoyed this piece by J.J. Cooper of Baseball America on the Rule 5. Coming at the end of the winter meetings, it comes at a time when many baseball executives are anxious to get out of Dodge and catch their flights back home.