When we last checked in on this year’s crop of Rule 5 players, there were a combined 11 players — six on active rosters and five on the Major League disabled list — still with their new organizations. That number has fallen to nine, with six players (albeit a different mix) still active in the Majors, plus another three hanging around on the DL. The number could shrink again in the near future, as several of the remaining Rule 5-ers are seldom used pieces, and at least two teams will soon likely have to make a call.
Active Big Leaguers
- Victor Reyes, OF, Tigers (from D-backs): Reyes has received only 38 plate appearances since our last Rule 5 roundup, hitting .211/.211/.342 in that span. He’s picked up a pair of triples and a double, his first extra-base hits in the Majors, but is hitting just .196/.196/.304 on the season as a whole. The Tigers barely use Reyes, outside of pinch-running and late-game defensive switches, but the longer they commit to hanging onto him, the less likely it becomes that they return him to Arizona. At this point, they’ve played more than a third of the season with an effective 24-man roster, so they seem likely to see this through.
- Brad Keller, RHP, Royals (from D-backs, via trade w/ Reds): The 22-year-old Keller hasn’t picked up many strikeouts (5.9 K/9) and hasn’t displayed elite control (3.3 BB/9), but he’s sporting a 57.9 percent ground-ball rate in 35 innings for Kansas City — including three starts. He boasts a 2.31 ERA thus far in 2018, though his 0.26 HR/9 mark and 82.2 percent strand rate seem poised to regress. Nonetheless, he’s performed well enough to date that there’s no reason for the Royals to consider cutting ties.
- Burch Smith, RHP, Royals (from Rays, via trade w/ Mets): Smith, on the other hand, is a more complicated case for GM Dayton Moore and his staff. The 28-year-old is currently lugging a 6.49 ERA to the mound with him after surrendering 10 runs in his past 7 1/3 innings. Smith has racked up 28 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings, but he’s also issued 18 walks and hit two batters. Beyond that, seven of the 26 hits he’s allowed with Kansas City have cleared the fence.
- Pedro Araujo, RHP, Orioles (from Cubs): Araujo was one of four players in Spring Training with the Orioles who came with Rule 5 status, but he’s the last to remain on their MLB roster. (Anthony Santander, who missed much of last season due to injury, fulfilled his Rule 5 requirements last monthM and was optioned to Triple-A.) Araujo was torched for four runs last night, including a pair of homers, and he now has a 7.71 ERA in 28 innings with the O’s. That’s not exactly a surprise considering the fact that he skipped both Double-A and Triple-A, and to his credit, Araujo has punched out 29 hitters in his 28 frames (albeit against 18 walks and two hit batters). Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun wrote this morning that Araujo’s roster spot could be in jeopardy with Zach Britton coming off the disabled list.
- Carlos Tocci, OF, Rangers (from Phillies, via trade w/ White Sox): Texas stashed Tocci, 22, on the disabled list with a hip contusion for more than a month and rode his rehabilitation window as long as possible. Since being activated on June 2, Tocci hasn’t logged a single plate appearance. The Rangers’ season looks to be lost, so they may as well hang onto Tocci if they believe he has any shot at a future in the organization. He’s just 2-for-25 in 14 games this season and has struggled in Triple-A, but Tocci was productive for the Phillies’ Double-A club last season and hit well in Double-A during last month’s rehab assignment, too.
- Elieser Hernandez, RHP, Marlins (from Astros): Hernandez has allowed just 10 earned runs through 23 innings for a 3.91 ERA, but he’s also picked up just 10 strikeouts and yielded five homers. Hernandez, 23, has shown strong control (four walks), but he looks quite hittable through his brief run with Miami so far. As with each team listed in this section, though, they can certainly afford to hang onto him.
On the Disabled List
- Julian Fernandez, RHP, Giants (from Rockies): Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery back in April. He’ll accrue MLB service time while spending the season on the 60-day disabled list and will retain his Rule 5 status heading into 2019, if the Giants wish to hang onto him all offseason.
- Nick Burdi, RHP, Pirates (from Twins via trade w/ Phillies): The Pirates picked up Burdi knowing he’d miss much of the 2018 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he’s yet to throw in the minors. That said, Burdi is a former supplemental-round pick who was selected toward the top of the draft thanks to an 80-grade heater that regularly touches triple digits. If he can get healthy enough to pitch this season, the Bucs will have a free look at a tantalizing power arm.
- Brett Graves, RHP, Marlins (from Athletics): The Marlins placed Graves on the 60-day disabled list with an oblique strain back on Opening Day, so he’s yet to pitch in the Majors. He has, however, recovered to the point where he’s begun pitching on a minor league rehab assignment. The results haven’t been pretty. Graves has a 6.23 ERA with a 16-to-7 K/BB ratio and four hit batters in 17 1/3 innings between Class-A Advanced and Double-A. He’s also nearing the end of his 30-day rehab window. His first rehab appearance came back on May 17, so the Marlins have less than a week to determine whether to bring Graves up to the Majors or run him through waivers and offer him back to Oakland.
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
- Tyler Kinley, RHP: Returned to Marlins by the Twins
- Luke Bard, RHP: Returned to Twins by the Angels