Last year, the Padres acquired Miguel Diaz, Luis Torrens, and Allen Cordoba in the Rule 5 draft. The year before, they acquired four players and wound up keeping Luis Perdomo and Jabari Blash in the organization. Coming into the 2017 version of the Rule 5 draft, A.J. Preller’s reputation all but assured that the Padres would scavenge one or more player from other teams’ systems.
That didn’t happen. For the first time since 2014, the Padres chose to abstain from adding minor league talent to their major league roster through the Rule 5 draft. This was evident before the draft, as the team’s 40-man roster was full entering the start of the draft. Teams need to add selected players to their active roster immediately, so with no room on the roster, the team could select no players. Coming into the week, players like Ryan Schimpf and Jabari Blash were seen as potential DFA candidates, which would have opened up roster spots, but instead they were flipped in separate trades for Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell (Yankees) and minor league shortstop Deion Tansel (Rays).
This is a good thing for the Padres. In recent years, there was a gap in talent between the thin MLB roster and the quality prospects in the low minors. The team chose to fill some of that gap through the Rule 5 draft. Now the MLB roster has more depth and balance while the upper levels of the minor leagues contain more players that may contribute at the MLB level soon. We’re seeing an organization finally inch toward a balanced system from top to bottom that can support itself from within. It’s not all the way there yet, but it’s very far away.
A notable facet of today’s draft results is that the Padres only lost one player in the draft, Jaimito Lebron, who was selected by the A’s in the minor league portion of the draft. The 21-year-old Dominican RHP was signed as an international free agent in 2014 by the Padres and has spent his entire career at the Rookie ball level or below. Slugger Franmil Reyes was the highest-rated Padre player left exposed in the draft, and he may now continue to rehab his broken hamate bone within the Padres organization.
The morning wasn’t completely devoid of Padres news, as during the minor league phase of the draft the team selected Jose Carlos Medina, a LHP from the Mets (not to be confused with Mets minor league OF Jose Miguel Medina) and originally from Mexico. He’s worked mostly as a starter and hasn’t pitched above single-A. He will be assigned to AAA El Paso but there is no rule about roster status to keep him, so he’s ours for keeps. I can’t find any good scouting data on him right away, so let’s assume that he’s a project that the scouts love. In other Padres news, longtime farmhand Michael Kelly was signed to a major league deal by the Baltimore Orioles. The righty starter seemed poised to break the rotation at some point in 2017, but he struggled at the AAA level each of the last two years.
The Rule 5 draft signals the end of the MLB Winter Meetings. While there has been a lot of talk, this version of the Winter Meetings has been one of the quietest in recent memory. The Padres have been linked to discussions all around the diamond, and many of the deals discussed this week will be finalized soon. We’ll keep you posted as the 2018 roster slowly comes into focus.