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A Look Ahead at the Phillies' Impending Decisions on the 40-Man Roster and the Rule 5 Draft

Choose wisely, Ruben. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Choose wisely, Ruben. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

With the minor league regular season now over, I thought it would make sense to put together a quick list of prospects who must now be placed on the 40-man roster or else be exposed to the Rule 5 draft. According to Wikipedia (all caveats apply), the rule is that a player reaches this crossroads if:

- he was age 19 or older when he signed, and he signed at least four years ago, or
- he was age 18 or younger when he signed, and he signed at least five years ago

This basically means that the Phillies have to decide whether to protect (a) anyone they drafted out of college in 2009 or earlier, and (b) anyone they drafted out of high school or signed internationally in 2008 or earlier.

There's no point in trying to figure out how many new prospects will get 40-man roster protection, because at this early stage it's tough to know with any precision how many vacancies there will be. But one thing we can do is rank the relevant prospects in order of who most deserves a spot.

There are two criteria that need to be considered in ranking each player: first, how good of a prospect he is (duh), and second, how likely it is that another team would swipe him in the Rule 5 if he were to be left unprotected. Those are obviously related questions, but they aren't identical. For instance, suppose you have a catching prospect who's very talented but still raw and playing in Lo-A ball. He might be a good prospect, but other teams might feel like they'd be unable to hide him on their rosters for a full major league season. They might feel more inclined to instead select a AA relief pitcher, who might be a lesser prospect but who'd be much easier to keep.

1. Trevor May: RHP, Drafted 4th round 2008, HS Kelso WA, DOB 9/23/89

2012 AA: 28 G, 28 GS, 149.2 IP, 139 H, 87 R, 81 ER, 22 HR, 78 BB, 151 K, 4.87 ERA

May entered the season as the #1 prospect in the organization after excelling in Clearwater in 2011, and got off to a very strong start, which had a lot of us excited. He may have lost his #1 prospect status after struggling mightily in May, June, and July, but seemed to right the ship in August. He's still a big-time talent, and there's no question that the Phillies have to protect him.

2. Jonathan Pettibone: RHP, Drafted 3rd round (comp) 2008, HS Anaheim CA, DOB 7/19/90

2012 AA: 19 G, 19 GS, 117.1 IP, 115 H, 52 R, 43 ER, 9 HR, 27 BB, 81 K, 3.30 ERA
2012 AAA: 7 G, 7 GS, 42.1 IP, 31 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 0 HR, 22 BB, 32 K, 2.55 ERA

Pettibone has been consistently unspectacular-but-solid throughout his minor league career, and that continued in 2012. His numbers improved as the season went along in AA, earning him a late-season promotion to AAA, where he posted mediocre peripherals but experienced good results over a small sample. He's a good mid-level prospect who would almost definitely be lost if exposed.

3. Darin Ruf: 1B (and LF?), Drafted 20th round 2009, Creighton University, DOB 7/28/86

2012 AA: 155 for 489, 32 2B, 1 3B, 38 HR, 65 BB, 102 K, .317/.408/.620

Ruf isn't really a top prospect, but there's a pretty good chance that he'd be drafted if left exposed. At age 26, he isn't raw, and if he's ever going to contribute at all, then he's as likely to contribute in 2013 as in any subsequent year.

4. Zach Collier: OF, Drafted 1st round (comp) 2008, HS Chino Hills CA, DOB 9/8/90

2012 A+: 76 for 283, 13 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 26 BB, 60 K, .269/.333/.399

This is where the list gets tough. We still don't have a strong sense of how good of a prospect Collier is, because he just hasn't played that much. He was only 17 when he was drafted, and after a decent 2008 campaign in short-season ball, he was rushed up to Lakewood in 2009 and was terrible. Then he missed all of 2010 with a wrist injury, and the first 50 games of 2012 for testing positive for unauthorized ADD medication. When he was able to get on the field in 2011 and 2012, he was not terrible but not all that good either. I'm basing this #4 ranking on three things: (a) he was a first round pick, (b) he's had so many setbacks in his career that it's worth taking more time to get a better read on him, and (c) the Phillies have decided to send him to the 2012 Arizona Fall League so they apparently still like him.

5. Gabriel Arias: RHP, Signed 7/24/07 from Dominican Republic, DOB 12/6/89

2012 A: 36 G, 7 GS, 96.0 IP, 103 H, 50 R, 39 ER, 5 HR, 25 BB, 97 K, 3.66 ERA
2012 A+: 1 G, 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 9 K, 3.60 ERA

I know this probably looks like a crazy ranking, but hey it's my list, and it's just for kicks. Anyway, Arias signed way back in 2007 and got a pretty decent bonus, but then didn't show up stateside until 2011. He started this season in the Lakewood bullpen, where he had a good K/BB but a relatively unimpressive ERA. Late in July, he moved into the rotation and was excellent for the rest of the season: in eight starts, he had 47 K and only 7 BB in 41.2 IP, and posted a 2.38 ERA. I've heard that he can throw very hard, hitting mph's over 95 as a reliever. There are a few superficial similarities between Arias and Lendy Castillo, who was the guy the Phillies lost in the Rule 5 draft in 2011. Even though he's still very far from the majors and isn't a top prospect (yet), I think he gave us a glimpse of enough of a "ceiling" in 2012 to be worth protecting over some guys who might outrank him on the prospect charts.

6. Julio Rodriguez: RHP, Drafted 8th round 2008, HS Gurabo PR, DOB 8/29/90

2012 AA: 29 G, 22 GS, 134.0 IP, 121 H, 73 R, 63 ER, 14 HR, 76 BB, 136 K, 21 HBP, 4.23 ERA

Rodriguez pitched pretty well in the first half of the season (85 K, 41 BB, 3.23 ERA in 83.2 IP over his first 15 G) and earned a roster spot in the Futures Game, but then it all went south in a disastrous July and a bad August. The knock against him from "scouts" has always been that he doesn't throw hard enough and that he succeeded in A-ball with junk breaking stuff that wouldn't work at higher levels. I don't know if that explains what happened to him in the second half, or if it's a problem that he necessarily won't be able to overcome, but it might be. That said, he's still young and it would be nice to protect him if there's a spot for him, so as to give him another year to prove himself.

7. Leandro Castro: OF, Signed 3/7/07 from Dominican Republic, DOB 6/15/89

2012 AA: 137 for 478, 35 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 17 BB, 70 K, 13/22 SB, .287/.316/.427

Castro has doubles power, is very streaky, and never walks. He's an okay prospect, but losing him wouldn't be the end of the world.

8. D'Arby Myers: OF, Drafted 4th round 2006, HS Los Angeles CA, DOB 12/9/88

2012 A+: 21 for 69, 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 9 K, 5/6 SB, .304/.324/.464
2012 AA: 37 for 121, 5 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 BB, 20 K, 7/7 SB, .306/.339/.421

Myers is a great story. He was drafted way back in 2006, and did very well in GCL at the tender age of 17, getting a lot of prospect buffs excited. But he followed that up with a disastrous 2007 at Williamsport, and then failed to break a .700 OPS in any of the next four seasons at Williamsport, Lakewood, or Clearwater. Last year, he posted a .587 OPS in 147 PA at Clearwater at age 22. As a prospect, he was dead in the water, and I had frankly forgotten all about him. He's gone through multiple Rule 5 drafts unprotected, and I doubt any team ever even thought about selecting him. But then this year, he got off to a nice start at Clearwater and earned a promotion to Reading, where he posted a respectable .760 OPS in limited playing time. He probably hasn't regained prospect status yet, but he's back on the radar.

9. Jiwan James: OF, Drafted 22nd round 2007, HS Williston FL, DOB 4/11/89

2012 AA: 95 for 381, 14 2B, 5 3B, 6 HR, 21 BB, 115 K, 8/16 SB, .249/.291/.360

It was a disappointing 2012 for James, who has yet to have the breakout year that the Phillies have been hoping for since 2009, when he was moved from the pitcher's mound to the outfield due to an arm injury. He's still supposedly a very talented guy, and the organization shouldn't (and probably won't) give up on him, but he's already made it through one Rule 5 draft unprotected without being selected by anyone, and he can probably get through one more.

10. Anthony Hewitt: OF, Drafted 1st round 2008, HS Salisbury CT, DOB 4/27/89

2012 A+: 99 for 411, 13 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 18 BB, 136 K, 13/22 SB, .241/.281/.387

Hewitt had some moments this year, but he still has no mastery of the strike zone and isn't a prospect. Now, even if he only has a one-in-a-million chance of ever turning into anything, that's no reason to give up on him. But I can't imagine any other team picking him in the Rule 5 draft and keeping him on its major league roster for the entire 2013 season, so there's no need to give him a 40-man roster spot.

11. Austin Hyatt: RHP, Drafted 15th round 2009, University of Alabama, DOB 5/23/86

2012 AA: 11 G, 11 GS, 54.0 IP, 62 H, 45 R, 38 ER, 10 HR, 26 BB, 35 K, 6.33 ERA
2012 AAA: 16 G, 16 GS, 87.2 IP, 92 H, 51 R, 45 ER, 14 HR, 26 BB, 75 K, 4.62 ERA

In 2009 and 2010, Hyatt was very successful in the low minors but was downgraded as a prospect for being too old and not having dominant stuff. But he finally started to get people wondering if he might be legit in 2011, when he made the big jump to AA and was still reasonably successful, posting 171 K, 49 BB, and a 3.85 ERA in 154.1 IP for the R-Phils. His main weakness was allowing too many fly balls and homers, but it seemed like he could earn himself a shot at the big leagues if he could just get that under control at Lehigh Valley. Unfortunately, 2012 was a huge disappointment. Not only did he fail to improve his fly ball tendencies, but his K and BB rates also went south. His AAA stats were horrendous, and then he was demoted and was still bad at the same level where he's pitched well just one year earlier. I don't know what happened to him, but it doesn't seem like it was just a matter of him being exposed as a guy who succeeded just because he was old -- instead, it seems like he actually got worse for some reason. In his last few starts of the season at AA, he appeared to get his sea legs back to some extent, and he pitched well in Game 1 of the R-Phils' currently ongoing playoff series. But still, he's not getting a spot on the 40-man roster.

12. Edgar Duran: SS, Signed 12/20/07 from Venezuela, DOB 2/10/91

2012 A+: 102 for 403, 13 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 28 BB, 68 K, 10/20 SB, .253/.310/.357

I had never even heard of this guy until this year, but he's a 21-year-old shortstop who put up non-terrible hitting stats in the Florida State League this year. I don't know what scouts think of him, one way or the other. I can't imagine anyone taking him in the Rule 5, but at least he's on the radar, if just barely.

13. Juan Sosa: RHP, Signed 4/24/07 from Dominican Republic, DOB 10/11/89

2012 A+: 46 G, 5 GS, 80.1 IP, 74 H, 42 R, 38 ER, 8 HR, 30 BB, 79 K, 4.26 ERA

I know nothing about this guy beyond the numbers you see above. His K/BB was decent enough this year, although he allowed too many homers. Maybe he has talent -- I don't know. But you don't protect A-ball relievers in the Rule 5 draft.

14. Colby Shreve: RHP, Drafted 6th round 2008, College of Southern Nevada, DOB 1/5/88

2012 A: 6 G, 0 GS, 15.0 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 HR, 7 BB, 16 K, 3.60 ERA
2012 A+: 13 G, 0 GS, 20.0 IP, 17 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 HR, 6 BB, 19 K, 2.25 ERA
2012 AA: 28 G, 0 GS, 43.0 IP, 43 H, 26 R, 21 ER, 2 HR, 25 BB, 29 K, 4.40 ERA

Shreve didn't pitch well at AA, and there are about eleventy relievers ahead of him in the prospect pecking order. He was left unprotected last year and will be again.

Have I forgotten anybody? If so, name them in the comments.