This coming Thursday is the MLB’s annual Rule-5 draft. In which eligible non-protected players can be picked up by a new club, and have to battle for a 25-man roster spot. Eligible players include: high school draftees from 2010, college picks from 2011 will be eligible for the draft this year, international players signed in 2010, and any player with who is on his second MILB contract. The Yankees protected four players from the draft this season: Brandon Pinder, Mason Williams, Danny Burawa, and Tyler Austin. But there are a few other players that might get taken in the upcoming draft.
1. Mark Montgomery:
Montgomery is the only rule-5 eligible Yankee that was once considered a top-prospect. Baseball America rated him as the team’s 11th best prospect after the 2012. BA also rated his slider as the best slider in the Yankees system in 2011, and 2012. The former 11th round pick, was dominant in his first two seasons as a Yankee. In 2011 he had a 1.91 ERA, a 1.165 WHIP, and a SO/9 of 16.2, in A-/A-ball.
He was even better in 2012, because he found his control, and stopped walking 4 guys per 9 innings. He had a 1.54 ERA, a .750 WHIP, SO/9 of 13.8 and BB/9 of 3.1 in A+ /AA. His performance in AA in particular made people think he could crack the Yankees pen in 2013,
But Montgomery’s 2013 season didn’t go as planned, he developed a lingering shoulder injury that sapped a few MPH off of his fastball. Considering he was never a hard-thrower to begin with, this was a very big deal. Because his fastball sat in the mid to upper 80’s he began regressing. It appears he never fully recovered as he hasn’t returned to his 2011/2012 dominance. He still has put up decent numbers but he doesn’t look like the same guy. He had a 3.96 FIP in AAA this season and was actually sent back to AA where he put up a 3.63 FIP. So clearly his stock has fallen.
With that said I still thought the team would protect him. It seems to me that he would be a good selection for another team, if his velocity comes back he could be a real weapon out of the pen. And a team would be able to tell if his velocity is back rather early, so there’s no reason not to take him in the draft. Of course there may be safer selections, but overall I think Montgomery would be an okay gamble for another team.
2. Kyle Roller:
Roller is a survivor; he has never really stood out as a member of the Yankees system, but he has established some value for himself as fringe-prospect. All he has done in his career is hit and grind his way up the minor league ladder. His .300/.391/.550 slash line seemed to earn him some fans, but at age 26 he is considered old for a prospect. With that said, we all know how injury prone Mark Teixeira has been so some thought the Yankees should protect him.
I disagree, I don’t see the value of a backup first-baseman, and if the team really needs one, I rather them just sign a guy like Juan Francisco than clogging their 40-man roster with Roller. His .392 wOBA, and 143 wRC+ are really impressive but I’m inclined to assume that his numbers were due to his age. Additionally I don’t see a backup player with limited defensive ability sticking on someone’s roster for a full season.
3. Zach Nuding:
Nuding had a very up-and-down 2014 season in which he proved he could dominate in AA and wasn’t ready for AAA. His ERA jumped 3 runs between the two levels and his WHIP went up by about half a hit per hitting. However he did show that he could handle a big workload, as he pitched a 154 innings this season. This may suggest that he would make a good long-relief option in the future. It’s also possible that his stuff would play up in the pen, as he might be able to throw in the upper 90’s and has a slider and changeup combination.
4. Cito Culver:
The often maligned Culver has been a disappointment for most of his career. He started his career as a player that many felt didn’t deserve to be picked in the first round by the Yankees. Since then he has done little to prove his critics wrong, and while he occasionally looks good at the plate, he is mostly just a defense first player. Which isn’t awful, as his defense is really good, it’s just not something to get that excited about.
In five seasons with the Yankees he has put an OPS of .636; which is made up from an OBP of .316, and a SLG of .321. He has shown flashes however and according to Baseball America he made a mechanical adjustment to his swing which led to a surprisingly good offensive month last year. He had a .783 OPS in his last 28 games. With that said I doubt he gets taken, or sticks.
Other Eligible Players:
There are few other notable players, but for the most part if a Yankee gets taken it’s probably one of the four players mentioned above. Other notable eligible prospects include: Cesar Vargas, Aaron Dott, Angelo Gumbs, Omar Luis, and Rob Segedin. Out of these players only Gumbs has great potential and he’s been too injury prone to ever reach that potential.