Part Three: Who could be selected?
It is important to note when trying to determine which players will be selected in the Rule 5 draft that there are two phases. There is the more popularly known MLB-phase where each pick cost $50,000, and they must remain on the 25-man roster throughout the entire season or offered back to their original team for $25,000. Then there is the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft; the minor league phase does not include the same roster rules.
Before the draft each team submits Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A rosters that include all the eligible players, the MLB phase picks from the Triple-A roster, and the minor league phase picks from the Double-A and Single-A rosters.
Raynel Espinal, 26, started the 2017 season with the Charleston RiverDogs where in 10 games he was 2-1 with a 1.16 ERA over 38 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out 44 batters and walked only 4. On June 26 he was promoted to High-A Tampa, where he went 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA and 21 strikeouts over 16 innings in 8 games, one start. He received his final promotion of the year on July 22 when he joined the Double-A Trenton Thunder.
In his first taste of Double-A baseball, Espinal went 2-0 with a 0.46 ERA in the regular season. He struck out 28 more batters in 19 2/3 innings. During the Eastern League playoffs, Espinal made two relief appearances. He did not allow a run or a walk but allowed two hits in 3 2/3 innings of work while striking out three batters.
Abiatal Avelino, 22, played at three different levels in 2017 including stints at High-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton, and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The versatile infielder played all over the infield with 44 games at second base, 26 at shortstop and 23 at third base. Like Estrada, he gives teams the ability to hide him as a backup infielder.
Avelino played a total of 98 games in 2017 with 69 of them coming with the Trenton Thunder of the Eastern League. With Trenton, he hit .270/.315/.396 in 230 at-bats. He spent 20 games with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders where he hit .213/.284/.262 in 61 at-bats. He played just nine games with the Tampa Yankees. He hit .219/.265/.250 in 32 at-bats there.
Avelino is a victim of the tremendous depth the Yankees have in the middle infield. A solid prospect in his own right, he finds himself behind many other talented infielders like Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, Gleyber Torres, Thairo Estrada, Tyler Wade and more with the Yankees.
Anyelo Gomez, 24, started the 2017 season in the South Atlantic League, he ended it in the International League. The right-hander out of the Dominican Republic struck out 87 batters over 70 1/3 innings in 38 games. His strikeout numbers are good for fourth best out of all Yankees minor league relievers.
Anyelo Gomez pitched just ten games with Charleston where he was 0-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 14 innings. On May 8 he was promoted to Tampa where he appeared in ten games, striking out 19 over 17 2/3 innings. His promotion to Trenton came on June 22, and with the Thunder he had 42 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings, earning a 1.72 ERA.
He appeared in just one game for Triple-A Scranton in the regular season, striking out 2 in 2 innings. But in the playoffs, he struck out an additional six batters in 5 1/3 innings over four games for the RailRiders.
Nestor Cortes, 22, pitched at three different levels including the Florida State League, Eastern League and the International League in 2017. He spent most of the season in Double-A with the Thunder where he was 5-0 with a 2.60 ERA over 18 games where he struck out 45 in 52 innings. In Triple-A he went 2-4 with a 1.49 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings.
Between all three levels, Cortes ended the season with a 7-4 record and a 2.06 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings pitched. This winter he is pitching in the Dominican Republic for Estrellas Orientales. On November 4 he threw six hitless innings and overall has a 2-1 record with a 1.25 ERA in 21 2/3 innings pitched.
The Yankees do not have the open space to add him to the roster and he has a record of success in the minors. But the question remains does he have what it takes to stick in the majors if he is selected in the Rule 5 draft?
Jonathan Loaisiga, 23, is a long-shot to be selected in this year’s Rule 5 draft. The righty out of Nicaragua impressed many this season after throwing just 32 2/3 innings in 11 games between the Gulf Coast League Yankees and the Staten Island Yankees. This season he was 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA, and 33 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings pitched. Loaisiga is intriguing. His injury history is a red flag but the upside is tremendous. Who doesn’t love a high-90s fastball and good curveball combo.
Stephen Tarpley, 24, is the victim of pitching depth the Yankees have in the upper levels and is likely to be left unprotected. After missing the first half of the 2017 season, he came back, this time as a reliever and dominated in 14 games for the Tampa Yankees. In 30 2/3 innings in the Florida State League in 2017, he struck out 36 batters, walked 16 and allowed only four hits and no runs. He went on to make his Double-A debut on August 20, 2017, with two shutout innings.
With the Thunder, Tarpley appeared in four games, striking out 6 in 10 1/3 innings and allowing four runs and two walks in the regular season. He went on to throw just one shutout inning in the playoffs.
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