The Rule 5 draft is on Thursday morning as most people are looking to abandon the Winter Meetings to return to normal society as quickly as possible. In the past the Rule 5 draft has been a point of success for the Phillies with Shane Victorino (before rule change), David Herndon, Odubel Herrera, and Tyler Goeddel all joining the Phillies for $50,000. The past two seasons the Phillies have taken two players, a hitter and a left handed reliever. Both times the lefty was returned to their original team. On the flip side the Phillies have avoided damage in the Rule 5 draft. The last Phillies player taken was Seth Rosin in 2013, the last Phillies player to stick all year was Lendy Castillo in 2011.
First let’s talk about who the Phillies could take in the Rule 5 draft this year:
Yep that is it. In theory the Phillies could chuck one of the mediocre relievers on the 40 man roster and select someone in the draft. On the relief front they look to have 6 of the 7 bullpen relief spots locked up with Benoit, Neris, Neshek, Ramos, Gomez, and Rodriguez. That means the bench, and they could use a left handed bench bat, and the best one of those is probably the Phillies own Andrew Pullin, who is not major league ready. They could also use a backup shortstop, and while he isn’t the best of the available, most of the shortstops are on par with the Phillies own Malquin Canelo. The Phillies have said they are not going to clear a spot, so the spot would have to come via trade.
With that taken care of, let’s talk about who is in danger. The Phillies already protected 11 players this offseason, which was a combination of system depth and CBA negotiations threatening to add a 26th active roster spot. The Phillies still have players available that could interest teams. Baseball America put out a large preview mentioning 6 that have the raw talent to be interesting, but there are a few more players I would put on the list.
Miguel Nunez, RHP - Nunez is a prototypical relief pitcher available in the Rule 5 draft. He has a big arm (95-97) and interesting secondary pitches. However, like many available he has a big wart, he walked over 5 per 9 in AA and didn’t do anything in the AFL to lessen those fears. Someone could take Nunez if they like him more than the others in his range, but he does not stand out.
Andrew Pullin, OF - Andrew Pullin hit .346/.393/.559 in Reading with better splits on the road. The problem is that it was a 46 game sample size and he ended the year early with an arm injury. Pullin used to play 2B, but is now mostly limited to LF (he could play RF some) which means he really needs to hit. His power was a bit amplified in AA, but he has a pull heavy approach that has tapped into his power enough that he may hit 15-20 home runs a year at his peak. Pullin is pretty much maxed out physically and does not draw walks at a rate to make his OBP anything special. A team looking a for a LH OF bench bat could take Pullin, but he does not have the long term upside to keep him around if he struggles.
Malquin Canelo, SS - Canelo’s bat took a big step backwards in 2016, but he is still a good defender. It is unlikely that is enough to entice a team.
Carlos Tocci, CF - Carlos Tocci has reached a point where he just hits. The problem is that those are all singles. He is a great center fielder, but that is the only carrying tool for him. If a team really believes in the glove they could look past the offensive limitations.
Seranthony Dominguez, RHP - Dominguez is probably the highest upside player on this list. But he has less than 50 innings of full season ball to his name. His fastball is dynamic as a starting pitcher, but less so when compared to the available relievers. His lack of consistent secondary pitches (both his curveball and changeup flash above average to plus) makes it difficult for 2017 to be anything more than a redshirt year. Teams are playing with 24 players less and less these days.
Jose Pujols, OF - Pujols’ power is an impact tool, but he struggled with contact in low-A. There is no way a team carries him all year.
Hoby Milner, LHP - Milner does not have LOOGY splits, but with a lower arm slot, hi-80s fastball, and sterling minor league numbers he sure looks like one. The Rule 5 LOOGY market features things like the return of Daniel Stumpf, so if a team likes Milner he quickly moves to the front of the line.
Tom Windle, LHP - Windle has been a mess since joining the Phillies in the Jimmy Rollins trade. He is now a full time reliever and his stuff (92-95 T97 fastball and above average slider) is good from the left side. However, he cannot find the strike zone enough to be effective. There may be a team who wants to bet on arm strength and pedigree.
Mitch Walding, 3B - Walding is coming off a bit of a breakout year, hitting .280/.372/.440 in hi-A and .286/.400/.476 in the AFL, sandwiching a .214/.337/.371 trip to AA. Walding is a good defender at the hot corner, but his high strikeout rate, coupled with less than ideal power make him a tough sell.