Reportedly the Phillies won’t select anyone in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. But who knows … the Phils bullpen can still use some help. And so can a few other areas. Though it’s unlikely, a roster hole can be addressed Thursday in the Rule 5 Draft.
How it works
Players who are not on their major league team’s 40-man roster and were either signed to a contract at age 19 or older and have been in that organization for four years, or were signed at 18 or younger and been in the organization for five years, are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft. The Phils recently protected a number of players from the Rule 5, but several are still available to teams.
By selecting a player in the Rule 5, a team must keep the player on its 25-man roster through an entire season. If not, the player is subject to be returned to his original team, or the original and selecting teams can work out a trade.
The Phillies – by having the eighth-worst record in baseball in 2016 – will select eighth in the Rule 5 Draft. They’re allowed to decline their pick (which, again, is the most likely scenario).
The team has had great success in the last decade or so in the Rule 5 Draft, picking up Shane Victorino and their most recent all-star, Odubel Herrera. And though the Phils would need to make room on the 25- and 40-man rosters to keep a Rule 5 draftee, they can certainly make it happen to fill a spot.
Let’s take a look at some of the names General Manager Matt Klentak and his staff could find interesting, if they decide to pick someone. (Much of the info below is from MLB.com and Baseball America; check those pieces out for more Rule-5-eligible names.)
Yimmi Brasoban, RHP, Padres. The only explanation as to why the Padres left this 22-year-old pitcher off of their 40-man roster is because of a current elbow ailment, for which he recently received an injection. Despite this, Brasoban is worth a shot for the Phils. He’s a hard-throwing righthander whose fastball can hit 98 mph and has a nasty slider. Those two pitches can come in handy late in games as a back-end-of-the-bullpen guy. Right-handed batters hit just .190/.292./.238 against him in double-A.
Yonny Chirinos, RHP, Rays. Chirinos isn’t the flashiest pitcher but could be a much-needed innings-eater at the end of the rotation or a fill-in if one of the young starters is sidelined. The 22-year-old is a contact pitcher, and with the Phils’ solid infield behind him, he could have success.
Julian Fernandez, RHP, Rockies. Fernandez may not be the reliever the team seeks in a one-run game in 2017, but his ceiling is high. The 21-year-old can throw the baseball pretty hard; his fastball sits at 98-100 and can reportedly hit 102-103. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues yet, but the Phillies can afford to take a chance on him this season, even if they only use him in blowouts.
Ismael Guillon, LHP, Reds. Guillon is seen by many as the left-handed version of Brasoban. In single-A Daytona last year, lefties hit just .133/.233/.222. He is a swing-and-miss pitcher and has a great changeup, which makes him decent against righties too. An added bonus – he reportedly has one of the best pickoff moves in the minors. Guillon could be useful as both middle-relief or a spot-starter, something that is necessary with such a young staff.
Corey Littrell, LHP, Cardinals. Littrell is another left-handed specialist that could be an interesting fit for the Phils. Last year was his first full year as a reliever in the minors, but lefties hit just .171 against him.
Outside of the four starters, there isn’t much depth in the infield on the 40-man roster. There’s chatter that the team may ask Andres Blanco back, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, but the Phils could look for extra help on the diamond at the Rule 5 Draft.
Osvaldo Abreu, 2B/SS, Nationals. Abreu hit just .247 last season in the Carolina League, but the middle infielder has good speed and range, which could be helpful late in games as a defensive replacement or pinch runner.
Phillip Evans, 2B/SS/3B, Mets. There’s little doubt that Evans is the most valuable infielder in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. He won the Eastern League batting title last season, hitting .335. He started as a shortstop but has since played at second and third more frequently. His defense isn’t superb enough to supplant any of the Phils solid infield defenders, but he could be very valuable as a utility man.
Calten Daal, SS, Reds. Daal hit .310 in double-A before being sidelined last season. He’s mainly a shortstop but can play second and has some speed.