The last article laid out the premise of an impending Roster Crunch. This one will take a closer look at 15 Rule 5 eligible players who deserve mention in regards to 40-man roster protection...
In some sense, the Padres are entering a third stage of the re-building process.
In the First stage, 2016-2017, the Padres were aggressive in the Rule 5 draft. AJ Preller and co. selected a total of seven players over a two year span, handcuffing the Major League coaching staff with multiple players each season who were unlikely to contribute in a meaningful way.
In the Second stage, 2018, the Padres stood pat, but still carried four former Rule 5 selections—Luis Perdomo, Luis Torrens, Allen Cordoba and Miguel Diaz—on the 40-man roster. Of those, only two, Luis Perdomo and Miguel Diaz, appeared in games for the Padres.
In the Third stage, beginning this offseason, every spot on the Padres’ active and 40-man rosters will start to become more valuable as top-ranked prospects ascend through the system. No longer will the organization have room to stash non-contributing quasi-prospects as they have done in previous seasons. This year’s Rule 5 Draft will force the Padres to make tough decisions, not about other teams’ prospects—as it has previously done—but about it’s own minor and major leaguers and how likely each are to contribute long-term.
The eligibility requirements for Rule 5 selection are:
- Players who signed at 19 years or older and have played four or more professional seasons
- Players who signed at 18 years or younger and have played five or more professional seasons
Chris Paddack and Anderson Espinoza are easy choices for protection:
- Paddack returned from 2016 Tommy John surgery to dominate his way into a top-50 prospect ranking.
- Espinoza was one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball before undergoing his own Tommy John surgery in 2017.
C/1B Austin Allen, OF Edward Olivares and RHP Pedro Avila, the Padres’ 25th, 28th and 29th ranked prospects, are slightly more intriguing:
- Allen, 24, has posted a near-130 wRC+ each of the past three seasons. Since 2017, he is averaging 20 AB/HR en route to back-to-back 22 home run seasons. Most encouraging, Baseball Prospectus, one of the only sites to offer advanced fielding metrics for minor leaguers, rates Allen at plus-8.8 Framing runs and 13.8 Fielding Runs Above Average behind the plate. He’ll begin the offseason in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.
- Olivares saw his stock drop in 2018. As a 22-year-old in the hitter-friendly California League, he only posted a 100 wRC+, 30 points lower than his performance in A-Ball in 2017. Offensively, his game revolves around contact (17.6 K% career), speed (68 SB in 342 career games) and some burgeoning power (29 HR since 2017). He’s expected to stick in center field, but has the arm strength to move to Right Field if needed.
- Avila, 21, was dominant at Fort Wayne in 2017 with a 1.92 FIP and 12.3 K/9, but in two stints at High-A Lake Elsinore, he has been far less impressive with a 4.50+ ERA and near-1.50 WHIP. Still, consider the following two stat lines. Both are from the Storm in 2018. One is Avila, the other is the Padres’ 7th-ranked prospect Michel Baez. Can you tell who is who?
Which of these top-30 prospects gets protected?
This poll is closed
Allen and Olivares
Allen and Avila
Olivares and Avila
Ty France, Michael Gettys, Travis Radke and Hansel Rodriguez are unranked prospects with upside:
- France, 24, led the Padres system in Runs (84), RBI (96) and Total Bases (236) in 2018. Through 2017, the SDSU product had only hit 20 professional home runs, but he mashed 22 for Double-A San Antonio this season. France has played both third and first base and was an integral part of El Paso’s run to the Triple-A Playoffs after a late season promotion.
- Gettys, 22, recently fell out of the Padres’ top-30 prospects for the first time since his 2nd-round selection in 2014. The hyper-athletic center fielder with a canon arm struggled as a 22-year-old in his first taste of Double-A, posting an 86 wRC+ with an alarming 33.8 K%. In 2017, it looked like he had future 4th/platoon outfielder potential by posting a .936 OPS vs LHP compared to .720 vs RHP. But, in 2018 that platoon split flipped: .571 OPS vs LHP, .737 vs RHP. In the field, Baseball Prospectus has Gettys at 13.4 Fielding Runs Above Average, tops among Padres minor league outfielders.
- Radke, 25, entered the Padres system as a starting pitcher in 2014. After two mediocre seasons, he suffered a torn UCL and missed all of 2016 with Tommy John surgery. In 2017, he returned to dominate low-A Tri-City as a reliever with 27 K, 1 BB and a 1.80 ERA in 20 IP. In 2018, he pitched for all four of the Padres’ full-season affiliates, totaling 91 K against 14 BB and only 3 HR in 78.2 IP.
- Rodriguez, 21, recorded 56 strikeouts against just 9 walks and 27 hits in 40.1 IP of relief for the TinCaps in 2017. Injuries drastically limited his 2018 season, but he’ll be one of four prospects representing the Padres in the Arizona Fall League. He features a mid-90’s fastball and an advanced slider.
SP Jerry Keel, UT Kyle Overstreet, RP Trevor Megill and 1B Brad Zunica will also be eligible for the first time:
- Keel, 24, tallied 108 K, 41 BB and a 1.37 WHIP in 148.2 IP for the Missions and Chihuahuas. He has logged over 110 IP each season since 2016.
- Overstreet, 24, appeared in games at first, second, third and catcher for the Missions while posting a 93 wRC+. For the Storm in 2017, he had a 126 wRC+ in the hitter-friendly California League.
- Megill, 24, was dominant in 13 games with the High-A Storm (19.2 IP, 32 K, 1 BB), but struggled to finish off hitters in 11 appearances with the Double-A Missions (17.0 IP, 9 K, 7 BB). In college, he missed all of 2014 with Tommy John before the Padres selected him in 2015. As a professional, he missed all of 2016 with various injuries and has yet to accumulate 100 IP for his career.
- Zunica, 22, hit 17 HR with a 108 wRC+ for Lake Elsinore. He has struck out in 258 of 765 PA (33.7 K%) across four seasons.
Pitchers Gerardo Reyes and Emmanuel Ramirez deserve mention after going unselected in the December 2017 Rule 5 draft:
- Reyes, 25, came to the Padres from the Rays in the Wil Myers trade. The Padres left him off the 40-man roster after a solid, but unspectacular 2017—4.04 FIP in 61.2 IP at Lake Elsinore. Reyes spent most of 2018 at Double-A San Antonio, posting a 2.96 FIP with 49 strikeouts in 39.0 IP, before being added to the Triple-A Chihuahua’s playoff roster. In three postseason games for El Paso, he held the Fresno Grizzlies hitless and scoreless, allowing only two walks while striking out five and collecting one save in 3.1 IP.
- Ramirez, 24, joined the Padres organization during the 2013-2014 signing period as a teenager from the Dominican Republic. He opened 2017 in the Single-A Fort Wayne bullpen (7 G, 5.11 FIP), became a starter for Low-A Tri-City (8 GS, 2.72 FIP) and earned a promotion to High-A Lake Elsinore (6 GS, 3.64 FIP) before going unselected in the Rule 5 Draft. He had another interesting year in 2018:
Single-A Starter: 3 GS, 16.1 IP, 14.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.16 WHIP, 2.20 ERA
High-A Starter: 9 GS, 48 IP, 13.5 K/9, 7.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.33 WHIP, 6.14 ERA
High-A Reliever: 13 G, 23.1 IP, 13.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.29 WHIP, 3.62 ERA
Double-A Starter: 4 GS, 24 IP, 27:6 K:BB, 1.13 WHIP, 2.63 ERA
Triple-A Starter: 1 GS, 4.0 IP, 5 K, 2 BB, 1 ER
If the Padres leave him off the 40-man roster again, Ramirez will be eligible for Minor League Free Agency as 2018 was his sixth full season of professional baseball.
Of the unranked prospects, who should the Padres protect?
This poll is closed
More than one
Last year, the Padres had a laughably small group of prospects eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Only left-handed reliever Brad Wieck—set to debut this week—was added to the 40-man roster, while Franmil Reyes (hindsight 20-20), utility Infielder Ruddy Giron and right-handed relievers T.J. Weir and Jason Jester were left unprotected. It’s notable that the Padres selected both Weir and Reyes to participate in the 2017 Arizona Fall League but chose not to roster either one. This year, the quality, and quantity, of prospects is much higher.
Chris Paddack and Anderson Espinoza are easy adds to the 40-man roster. Austin Allen, warrants inclusion due to his consistent offensive output, even though his path to the MLB is currently blocked at both catcher (Mejia, Hedges) and first base (Hosmer).
Pedro Avila suffers from an organization that is rich in pitching prospects. According to MLB Pipeline, he is only the 8th-best right-handed starter in the system. In contrast, Edward Olivares and Michael Gettys benefit from positional scarcity. With defensive-liabilities Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes making their case for long-term roles, and with Manny Margot struggling at the plate, the Padres might place a premium on rangy outfielders.
Travis Radke, Hansel Rodriguez and Gerardo Reyes are three relievers who could conceivably contribute for the Padres. Of these, Reyes has the most experience in the upper minors, but Rodriguez, only 21 years old and headed to the Arizona Fall League, has the most upside.
Finally, Ty France has an outside shot at a 40-man roster spot. His opportunity is largely dependent on the results of the Wil Myers third base experience.
The tiers of talent are fairly clear, now it’s a matter of how many spots the Padres can find.
Check back for two more posts. Next will be a look at 2019 contractual obligations and who, on the current 40-man roster, could be on the chopping (or trading) block. The last post will put it altogether and make a WAY to early prediction for the Padres’ 2019 40-man roster.