Just ahead of Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 protection deadline, the Phillies have added the contracts of three minor leaguers to their 40-man roster.
That puts 38 players on the 40-man roster, however, the team designated Justin Bour for assignment last week. He is expected to clear waivers and, once he does, will be released and become a free agent, leaving 37 players on the 40-man.
Minor league players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years or more are eligible for the draft. Players who were signed when they were 18 are eligible once they’ve played five years. Those players must be placed on the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.
Adonis Medina was a slam-dunk, no-doubt-about-it add. As the team’s No. 3 prospect (No. 64 overall) according to MLB Pipeline, the 22-year-old right-hander pitched 111.1 innings for High-A Clearwater this year with a 4.12 ERA and a 3.82 FIP. He struck out 9.94 batters per nine innings (K/9) with a walk-rate of 2.91 per nine (BB/9) and a K-rate of 26.1%. He features a fastball that averages 92-94 mph with some sink that helps him generate ground balls. He also features an improved slider and a changeup, but his secondary pitches need refinement. Medina’s name was mentioned in trade talks surrounding Manny Machado this summer.
Arquimedes Gamboa is a teammate of Medina’s, a 21-year-old shortstop who batted .214/.304/.279 in 497 PAs last year, with a healthy 10.7% walk-rate and a strikeout rate of 22.3%. He doesn’t hit for any power, with just two home runs this year, and hits too many fly balls for a guy with an inability to hit it over the fence. However, he was signed by the team out of Venezuela in 2014 for $900,000 and shows good bat speed. He’s also viewed as an excellent defender with a strong arm and some room to improve offensively.
Finally, there’s 22-year-old right-handed relief pitcher Edgar Garcia, who made 47 appearances for Double-A Reading where he piled up 10.26 K/9 and a strikeout rate of 27.2%. In 47 appearances he had a 3.32 ERA and a 3.72 FIP with a .202 opponents’ batting average allowed. He was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley late in the season and made five appearances for the Iron Pigs.
Among the players left off the 40-man roster who could be poached from the Phillies is Triple-A starter Tom Eshelman, the control and command artist who struggled mightily at Lehigh Valley this year, with a 5.84 ERA in 26 starts and 140.1 innings pitched. He struck out just 6.7 batters per nine and gave up 12.1 hits per nine innings. Still, he posted a 2.82 ERA in 23 starts for AA and AAA in 2017, and a team could take a chance on the 24-year-old right-hander, who was acquired as part of the Ken Giles trade.
Reading right-handed reliever Luke Leftwich is a likely candidate to get drafted. The 24-year-old struck out 10.34 batters per nine in 44 games (62.2 innings), with a 3.73 ERA and a 3.14 FIP. Leftwich struck out 26.7% of batters faced, but also walked 9.3%.
Tyler Gilbert is a 24-year-old left-handed reliever who pitched exactly 34.2 innings for both Reading and LHV last season. He posted a 2.86 ERA for Reading with 10.64 K/9, and a 3.63 ERA with a 7.27 K/9 for the Iron Pigs. However, it says something that as desperate as the Phillies were for left-handed relievers last year, Gilbert was not called up.
The Phillies are also taking a risk leaving catcher Deivi Gullon exposed. The 22-year-old catcher is currently third on the organization’s depth chart at that position and could potentially be the big league team’s back-up at some point in 2019. Last year he batted .273/.310/.515 in 90 games at AA Reading, with 21 homers and 59 RBIs. Given the shortage of catchers throughout baseball, Grullon could go.
Second baseman Daniel Brito is just 20 years old and has never played more than 27 games above High-A ball. In 92 games at Single-A he hit .252/.309/.340 with four homers, and in 27 games at Clearwater he hit .250/.300/.348 in 100 PAs. Any team that claims him would be stashing a very raw, young player on their 25-man roster all season.
Reading outfielder Jose Pujols, 23, had a great season at the plate, hitting .270/.365/.427 in 26 games at AAA with four home runs and a 13.5% walk rate. In 95 games at Clearwater he hit 18 bombs and batted .301/.364/.523. Pujols’ upside could entice a team to take a chance on him too.
Just a reminder — even if a team claims a Phillies prospect in the Rule 5 Draft, they must return that player back to the team if they take him off the 25-man roster at any point.