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Prospects left unprotected from Rule 5 Draft

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Ruiz, Reed headline those exposed to claim via Rule 5 next month

San Diego Padres On Deck Game v Texas Rangers

Wednesday marked the deadline for Padres GM AJ Preller to move players to his 40-man roster as a means of protection from next month’s Rule 5 draft.

Although he DFAd outfielder Nick Martini in order to make space for promising young slugger Jorge Ona, the deadline ultimately passed with fewer moves than some expected.
Notably, Preller elected to leave two Rule 5-eligible, top-30 prospects off of the 40-man.

Infielder Esteury Ruiz (18th) and outfielder Buddy Reed (25th) are both considered to be among the club’s top 30 farmhands by MLB Pipeline, but Preller apparently feels that they may not be ready for major league primetime.

Ruiz, of course, was brought to San Diego along with Matt Strahm and Travis Wood’s bloated contract in a 2017 deal that sent Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter to Kansas City. After an encouraging 2018 spent in Single-A, Ruiz fell flat in his first go-round with High-A Lake Elsinore in 2019. Across 98 games, Ruiz logged a .239/.300/.357 slash with 6 home runs and 34 steals. Not exactly level-adjusted production that should warrant a Rule 5 claim—and that’s before accounting for the 20-year-old’s suspect defense.

Reed, meanwhile, is a 24-year-old switch-hitter who has been unable to hit Double-A pitching over a season-and-a-half with Amarillo. Last year’s .228/.310/.388 line was actually decent for the Texas League (93+ wRC+), but Reed is an older outfield prospect who, if claimed, is unlikely to give Preller many sleepless nights in the coming years. He’s a nice guy to have around, but, like the similarly unprotected Michael Gettys, his time to prove himself may simply be running out.

Of course, the front office’s decision not to protect these players shouldn’t be interpreted as a complete lack of faith. Rather, executives may simply feel like other teams are unlikely to draft these players with the intention of keeping them on a major league roster for the entirety of 2020.