It’s been more than a month since MLBTR last checked in on the status of the 18 players who were selected in the Major League phase of last December’s Rule 5 Draft. Since that time, Opening Day rosters have been set, and there have been a few notable developments as pertains to this group. Here’s how they’re all faring thus far in 2018:
Active Big Leaguers
- Victor Reyes, OF, Tigers (selected from D-backs): The Tigers are hanging onto the top pick in December’s draft, though “active” is probably a generous adjective when describing his role. The 23-year-old has received just eight plate appearances and seen action in only eight games all season — most often working as a pinch-runner. The Tigers are obviously high on Reyes, and given their rebuilding status they can afford to roster him while using him in incredibly sparing fashion. At a certain point, though, they’ll need to start getting him into the game, as he’s missing out on valuable reps by riding the bench this often.
- Brad Keller, RHP, Royals (from D-backs, via trade with Reds): So far, so good for Keller. The 22-year-old was a starter in Arizona’s system and skipped Triple-A to jump right into the K.C. bullpen. Thus far, he’s tossed seven innings and allowed three runs on nine hits and a pair of walks (one intentional) with four strikeouts and a 52 percent grounder rate. The Royals can afford to keep Keller all season as long as performance dictates, and thus far he’s done nothing to really jeopardize his standing.
- Burch Smith, RHP, Royals (from Rays via trade with Mets): The 28-year-old Smith has big league experience, but that came all the way back in 2013 before a series of injuries slowed his career. The Royals have used him more heavily than Keller, giving him 10 2/3 innings thus far. Smith has a 3.38 ERA (four runs allowed) and 11 strikeouts in that time, but he’s also issued eight walks (none of which were intentional) and hit a batter. He’ll need better control, but he seems safe for now.
- Tyler Kinley, RHP, Twins (from Marlins): The Twins have carried relievers for a full season in the past (Ryan Pressly, J.R. Graham), but they’re not really in position to have a reliever they don’t trust in anything but mop-up or blowout scenarios at present. With Minnesota aiming to contend and in the midst of an ugly losing streak that has depleted their ’pen, it’s somewhat surprising that they’re hanging onto Kinley, who has served up nine runs in 3 1/3 innings thus far. A fastball that can reach triple digits is always enticing, but the Twins need more certainty from their relief corps than Kinley can offer at present.
- Pedro Araujo, RHP, Orioles (from Cubs): Baltimore opened the year with two picks from the 2017 Rule 5 Draft on their roster, but only Araujo is still with the club. He’s been thrown right into the fire by Buck Showalter and worked in some higher-leverage spots than most Rule 5 picks encounter, but the results haven’t been there thus far. Araujo has a 16-to-5 K/BB ratio in 11 innings, but he’s also served up two homers, posted a 5.73 ERA and induced grounders at just a 30.8 percent clip. He’s done a good job of limiting hard contact, however, and fielding-independent metrics feel he’s been better than that ugly ERA (4.26 FIP, 3.87 xFIP, 2.90 SIERA). The O’s already look buried in the AL East, making it easier to let Araujo develop at the MLB level if they wish.
- Luke Bard, RHP, Angels (from Twins): Bard technically still falls into this category, but that may not be the case for long. The righty broke camp with the Angels but was just designated for assignment over the weekend. Bard is still in DFA limbo, so there’s a chance that another club is enticed by his lofty spin rate and elects to roll the dice on him. Bard did strike out 13 batters against five walks in 10 2/3 MLB frames, but he also hit three batters and served up seven runs on the strength of four homers. If he clears waivers, he’ll be offered back to Minnesota for $50K.
On the Disabled List
- Julian Fernandez, RHP, Giants (from Rockies): Fernandez won’t be a factor for the Giants in 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this month. He’ll presumably spend the season on the 60-day DL, racking up a year of big league service time, and will retain his Rule 5 status once healthy in 2019.
- Nick Burdi, RHP, Pirates (from Twins via trade with Phillies): The former Louisville star was a supplemental-round pick of the Twins out of college thanks largely to an 80-grade fastball that can frequently touch triple digits, but injuries have slowed his career. The Twins surprised some by not placing Burdi on the 40-man roster, and the Pirates will have a chance to develop him and gain control of a power arm once he recovers from Tommy John surgery this summer. That Pittsburgh is off to such a promising start to the season could make it difficult for them to hang onto him, though.
- Carlos Tocci, OF, Rangers (from Phillies, via trade with White Sox): An injury to Delino DeShields (who is now back) got Tocci some extra looks at the plate, but he’s just 2-for-25 with one walk against a dozen strikeouts in 28 total plate appearances. Tocci is on the 10-day DL with a hip contusion at present, but he’ll need to produce more to stick with the Rangers all season. The fact that Texas has already been decimated by injuries and is off to an 8-17 start could actually benefit him, though. If the Rangers ultimately decide they’re destined for a sell-off, they can keep Tocci on the roster in spite of any struggles.
- Elieser Hernandez, RHP, Marlins (from Astros): The Marlins have yet to get a real look at the 22-year-old Hernandez, as he opened the season on the disabled list after having his wisdom teeth removed late in Spring Training. He’s on a rehab assignment in Class-A Advanced at the moment, where he has not thrown especially well. Hernandez has never even pitched at the Double-A level, though as is the case with the Tigers and Reds, the Marlins are in position to stash just about anyone on their big league roster for a season if they wish. They’ll need to make a call on him one way or another in the near future.
- Brett Graves, RHP, Marlins (from Athletics): Miami has yet to get a look at Graves during the regular season, as he’s currently on the 60-day disabled list due to an oblique injury. If he doesn’t spend at least 90 days on the active big league roster this year but sticks with the organization, he’d have to carry over his Rule 5 eligibility into the 2019 season until reaching that 90-day total.
Returned to Original Organization
- Anyelo Gomez, RHP: Returned to Yankees by the Braves
- Nestor Cortes Jr., LHP: Returned to Yankees by the Orioles
- Jordan Milbrath, RHP: Returned to Indians by the Pirates
- Mike Ford, 1B: Returned to Yankees by the Mariners
- Anthony Gose, LHP: Returned to Rangers by the Astros
- Jose Mesa Jr., RHP: Returned to Yankees by the Orioles
- Albert Suarez, RHP: Suarez accepted an outright assignment from the D-backs after clearing waivers. While a player would normally have to be offered back to his original organization at that point — the Giants, in this instance — Suarez was not required to be offered back to San Francisco due to the fact that he’d previously been outrighted off a 40-man roster in his career. That rare exemption allowed the D-backs to hang onto him, though he’s struggled in Triple-A Reno thus far (7.94 ERA, 10.3 K/9, 5.6 BB/9, two homers in 11 2/3 innings).
- Dan Winkler, RHP, Braves: Winkler’s Rule 5 status carried over all the way back to the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, as his career with the Braves has been beset by injuries. Winkler, at long last, is healthy and has seen that status expire, meaning the Braves could option him without exposing him to waivers first. Of course, with a 1.59 ERA and a 17-to-5 K/BB ratio thus far, there’s no reason for the Braves to think about doing so.
- Anthony Santander, OF, Orioles: Santander, too, saw his previous Rule 5 status carry over into the 2018 season, and he’s about three weeks away from fulfilling that goal and allowing the Orioles to option him if need be. That certainly seems plausible, as Santander is toting a dismal .153/.194/.254 batting line through 62 plate appearances thus far. The O’s have been giving him work, but if he doesn’t turn things around at the plate in short order, the 23-year-old switch-hitter could be bound for Triple-A once eligible.