As of Nov. 20, hundreds of minor leaguers will have a clear indication of where they stand. Tonight is the roster deadline for players to be added to 40-man rosters to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. Any player first signed as an 18-year-old or younger in 2011 or as a 19-year-old or older in 2012 (and any player whose initial contract was renegotiated after signing) is eligible for the Dec. 10 Rule 5 draft unless they are added to their team’s 40-man roster.
For any player added to the 40-man roster, it’s a strong sign that he is in his team’s plans. Roster spots are precious and those added are seen as having some ability to contribute to the big league club at some point. It’s also great news for a minor league player since it brings with is an invitation to major keague spring training, which means a chance to work out, perform and get instruction from the big league coaching staff as well as some per diem and salary bumps for the upcoming season.
For those not added, it does not necessarily mean they are overlooked, but it does mean that the team believes that either they are not at risk of being picked in the Rule 5 draft, that they are unlikely to stick with another team if they are picked, or in some cases of very crowded rosters, that they are a better choice to lose to the Rule 5 draft than someone else.
If you’re wondering what the Rule 5 draft is, here’s a quick explainer. The Rule 5 draft actually is the longest-lived draft in baseball. While the June draft has only been around for 50 years, the Rule 5 draft stretches back more than 100 years. In its original incarnation, it was seen as a way for teams all the way up the minor and major league ladder to acquire “stuck” talent from lower-level teams by drafting them and paying an appropriate contract purchase price in return. At that time, every minor league team was individually owned and run—farm systems of big league owned teams were actually banned, so the only way a big league team could acquire a talented minor leaguer was to purchase his contract, trade for him or acquire him in the offseason draft.
For more than a century, the system has remained in place even as the mechanics of the minor leagues have changed completely. That is why the Rule 5 draft is divided into a somewhat anachronistic major league portion (where teams pay $50,000 to draft a player and must keep him on the big league roster all year or offer him back to his original team), a Triple-A portion (where teams pay $12,000 and get the rights to the player with no restrictions) and a Double-A portion (where teams pay $4,000 for the rights to a player with no restrictions). Teams actually are setting their 40-man, Triple-A, Double-A and Class A rosters today. Players left off the 40-man are eligible for the major league Rule 5 draft. Players left off the Triple-A roster are available in the Triple-A draft and those not on the Double-A roster are eligible for the Double-A portion.
Normally, the minor league Rule 5 draft is used only for acquiring players to fill out minor league rosters, but the Marlins to their credit have managed to find future big league value. First baseman Justin Bour, a 2013 minor league Rule 5 pick, is one of the most successful minor league Rule 5 picks ever. The Marlins also acquired outfielder Alejandro de Aza in the 2004 minor league Rule 5 draft and watched him blossom into a player who has had a nine-year big league career.
The 2014 Rule 5 draft was one of the best of all time, as 10 of the 14 players in the major league portion stuck with new teams. Two outfielders (Delino DeShields and Odubel Herrera) and one first baseman (Mark Canha) saw regular playing time and a number of pitchers (led by Sean Gilmartin and J.R. Graham) proved they were more than just players being stashed for the future. That list could eventually grow by one. Daniel Winkler spent most of the season on the disabled list recovering from Tommy John surgery and therefore will still need to spend additional time on the Braves’ active roster to start 2016 to meet Rule 5 roster requirements.
It will be hard for this year’s Rule 5 draft to match that level of success, but it is a reminder why this matters.
We’ll keep a running tally of who has been added to the 40-man rosters today and why in addition to listing how many players are currently on each team’s 40-man roster.
RHP Jake Barrett—After a strong 2014 season split between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, Barrett looked to be close to contributing at the big league level. Instead, issues with command sent him back to Mobile, where he got back on track.
RHP Matt Koch—Acquired from the Mets for Addison Reed before the waiver trade deadline in August, Koch moved back into the bullpen this season for Double-A Binghamton, where his stuff ticked up. Koch can reach into the mid-90s with his fastball and he complements it with a sharp, upper 80s slider.
OF Gabby Guerrero—Guerrero was acquired from the Mariners in the deal that sent Mark Trumbo to Seattle, and the nephew of Vladimir has shown all of his uncle’s aggressiveness (and arm) and little of his power and hit tool. He slashed .222/.258/.343 for two Southern League clubs.
Atlanta Braves (39)
RHP John Gant—Trade pickup from Mets has an average fastball to go with excellent change and good control. He dominated in Braves’ Double-A debut.
OF Mallex Smith—Speedy center fielder could contend for starting job in Atlanta in 2016.
Baltimore Orioles (39)
RHP Parker Bridwell—The former three-sport prep star had the best changeup in the Eastern League this year, as voted by managers, and has above-average stuff, but inconsistency has kept him from being a better prospect. Bridwell is athletic with a good feel for pitching. He gets good downhill plane, with some sink to the fastball. He missed some time this season with elbow tendinitis.
LHP Chris Lee—Lee was drafted by the Astros out of Santa Fe (Fla.) CC, and was known for a 94-mph fastball and above-average slider but has had trouble commanding both in the pros. He was acquired in May for two international bonus slots.
RHP Andrew Triggs—Purchased from the Royals in April, Triggs, who fires from a low slot, posted the lowest walk rate and highest strikeout rate per nine innings among Eastern League relievers.
Boston Red Sox (40)
INF Marco Hernandez—Acquired from the Cubs last December for Felix Doubront, Hernandez has average hands, excellent instincts and range at shortstop and has an above-average throwing arm as well. The key for his breakthrough has been his bat. Hernandez has gained strength and refined his approach to the point where he swings at more strikes.
RHP Pat Light—The 2012 supplemental first-rounder was our choice for biggest leap forward in the Red Sox system in the first half, thanks to a 100-mph fastball and the reintroduction of a split-changeup he used at Monmouth. He struggled when he moved to Triple-A, however, as his command eluded him (seven walks per nine innings).
LHP Williams Jerez—Jerez originally signed with the Red Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft as an outfielder, but he hit just .221 so Boston converted him to the mound. Jerez is armed with two plus pitches in his fastball, which has touched as high as 97 mph this year, and a true two-plane slider. He also has a changeup, which is a clear third pitch at this point.
3B Jeimer Candelario—Candelario picked up his game in his first year of 40-man roster protection. He’s a switch-hitter with contact ability and solid-average defensive tools at third base, to go with a strong arm. He finished second in the Arizona Fall League with five home runs.
C Willson Contreras—The Cubs’ No. 2 prospect, Contreras made a quantum leap this season, playing more under control and bringing his plus tools to bear. He won the Double-A Southern League batting title and could be an above-average hitter with solid catching ability. He’s athletic enough to be a utility player with third base and the outfield possibilities as well. He’d been Rule 5 eligible since 2010 but was never selected.
RHP Pierce Johnson—A 2012 supplemental first-rounder, Johnson has had a frustrating career with injuries that have stymied his progress, to go with wavering velocity and an inconsistent breaking ball. But at his best, the Colorado native pumps a 90-94 mph fastball and has a lively cutter to go with his hard curveball.
1B Dan Vogelbach—A hamstring injury interrupted Vogelbach’s 2015 season, but he retains the feel for hitting and power potential that made him a second-round pick in 2011. He’s a bad-bodied first baseman who has worked hard to improve at first base, but his defense will never be pretty and he’s a better fit at DH.
RHP Brandon Brennan—A former prep quarterback, Brenann is athletic and physical with easy velocity that sits 92-94. He needs to improve the consistency on a slider that flattens out at times. He’s also been injury-prone and made just 12 starts in 2015.
RHP J.B. Wendelken—Acquired in the three-team deal with the Red Sox and Tigers for Jake Peavy, Wendelken moved back to bullpen in 2015 after starting in 2014 at high Class A Winston-Salem. Predictably, his velocity ticked back up to 90-93 after sitting 89-91 as a starter. An above-average changeup is his best pitch.
RHP Stephen Johnson—Picked up from the Giants at the deadline, Johnson was excellent in the Arizona Fall League thanks to a deceptive delivery, solid 92-94 mph fastball and a slurvy breaking ball.
RHP Sal Romano—Big righthander struggled in first taste of Double-A but is still one of the better pitching prospects in a system filled with pitching.
RHP Robert Stephenson—Reds No. 1 prospect was an easy call to add to the 40-man thanks to plus fastball, curve and changeup.
Cleveland Indians (40)
RHP Dylan Baker—A year after a fractured ankle cost him part of the season, Baker had Tommy John surgery in May and was limited to just five innings.
RHP Mike Clevinger—Clevinger closed out a terrific Double-A season with two excellent Triple-A starts. Clevinger works off a 90 mph fastball that tops out at 95 with some movement. He mixes in an average changeup and slider.
LHP Shawn Morimando—Morimando has a sneaky, running fastball that he can get to 94 mph, and flashes a diving curveball. He’s a bulldog and not afraid to pitch inside.
OF Tyler Naquin—After missing the second half of last season due to a hand injury, Naquin opened this season on the disabled list with a quad injury. Naquin’s ceiling isn’t as high as Bradley Zimmer’s or Clint Frazier’s, but he can be an everyday center fielder.
OF James Ramsey—Acquired from St. Louis for Justin Masterson, Ramsey had a tough season at the plate at Triple-A, but still should soon be able to help the Tribe, at least as a fourth outfielder.
RHP Carlos Estevez—Estevez has the best fastball in the organization and one of the best in the minors. Estevez is broad-shouldered and has a tremendous arm but below-average secondary stuff. Estevez’s command is below-average on all his pitches, but he has an easy arm action and the potential to become a high-leverage reliever.
RHP Antonio Senzatela—Senzatela’s not big, but generates good downhill plane. He attacks with a heavy fastball to both sides of the plate, sitting 92-95 mph and touching as high as 98. His mid-80s slider should develop into at least an average pitch, while his straight, downward-tumbling changeup has a chance to be plus.
SS/2B Trevor Story—Story has quick hands and tremendous bat speed, flashing at least average power. At times he expands the strike zone, particularly against breaking balls. He’s a solid-average shortstop with enough arm for the position.
OF Raimel Tapia—Tapia has advanced hand-eye coordination, plus bat speed and ability to manipulate the barrel. Even with a rather unconventional stance at times (especially his two-strike crouch) his excellent feel for hitting lets it work.
Detroit Tigers (39)
LHP Jairo Labourt—Acquired in the David Price trade to the Blue Jays, Labourt has size and a 93-95 mph fastball. He pitched in the Futures Game and will have to add polish after struggling with control (4.6 BB/9) in his first try at full-season ball.
RHP Montreal Robertson—Robertson, who reached Double-A this season for the first time has a solid arm (92-96 mph fastball) and got to show it in the Arizona Fall League, but his below-average control limits his projection.
OF Andrew Aplin—Aplin doesn’t really do anything well enough to be an everyday regular in the big leagues, but he does plenty well enough as a contact-oriented lefthanded hitter with the ability to play all three outfield spots to eventually fit as a fourth outfielder.
SS/2B Nolan Fontana—Fontana is struggling to get to the majors on a team that has Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez in the big leagues, Tony Kemp playing a little of everywhere in the high minors and first-round pick Alex Bregman rapidly climbing through the low minors behind them. But he gets on-base, has defensive versatility and would have likely been picked by someone if left unprotected.
RHP Jandel Gustave—A year ago the Astros lost Gustave in the Rule 5 pick as the Royals were willing to take a chance on a 100-mph arm even if he hadn’t pitched above low Class A. Gustave didn’t stick with the Royals and he was much better in his return to Houston. This year he touched 102 mph and was effective in Double-A out of the bullpen, making him a sure bet to get picked if he had been left unprotected.
C Alfredo Gonzalez—Roberto Pena is a better blocker and is a more accurate thrower, but Gonzalez has an even stronger arm and is a better pitch framer, which is why Houston chose to protect him. His .300 average (in limited playing time) at three levels didn’t hurt either.
RHP Joe Musgrove—Musgrove lacks the upside of a David Paulino, but he’s a very close-to-big-league ready starter who pitched well at three levels in 2015. He can run his fastball up to 95+ at times, but he’s best at locating his fastball and breaking ball well to get ahead of hitters.
RHP Juan Minaya—Minaya’s stuff took a big step forward this year with a 95 mph fastball that now touches 98. Considering he made it to Triple-A, his excellent arm made him too likely to be picked to be left off the 40-man.
RHP David Paulino—Acquired from the Tigers in 2013, Paulino is already one of the best pitching prospects in the Astros’ deep system. He’s blessed with a plus-plus fastball and a curveball that may be even better than the fastball.
OF Brett Eibner—A two-way star at Arkansas, Eibner has some swing and miss to his game but he also has plenty of pop and plays a solid center field.
RHP Alec Mills—Mills came back nicely from Tommy John surgery as he mixes a 94-mph fastball with a solid slider.
OF Bubba Starling—Starling took a nice step forward this year as he’s starting to show a better plan at the plate. His defense in center field is excellent, which means his bat doesn’t have to be great to be a useful big leaguer.
INF Ramon Torres—In a crowded group of middle infielders who were climbing the minor league ladder for the Royals, Torres took a step forward this year to lay a claim to a possible future utility role.
LHP Matt Strahm—Like Mills, Strahm came back from Tommy John surgery to show a plus fastball. He’s a little ways away, but he has a solid chance to be a useful setup man eventually.
RHP Kyle Zimmer—Yes, Zimmer has been injured more often than he’s been healthy as a pro. But he finished 2015 healthy and teams don’t even consider giving up on arms with true front-of-rotation stuff.
Los Angeles Angels (34)
RHP Victor Alcantara—Alcantara struggled in the hitter-friendly California League, but possesses a powerful right arm, delivering a plus fastball up to 98 mph. He pitches more effectively in the 93-94 range. His slider also is an above-average pitch that he throws 88-89 mph with enough depth to miss barrels.
RHP Jharel Cotton—Cotton made it from high Class A to Triple-A last year and did it while striking out more than 10 batters an inning at all three levels. He sets hitters up with a 92-95 mph fastball that he cuts and runs and then strikes them out with an excellent changeup that looks like a screwball.
RHP Ross Stripling—Stripling has a solid return from Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for all of 2014. Stripling sinks his average fastball and mixes in average breaking balls and changeup.
RHP Jarlin Garcia—The Marlins’ No. 3 prospect was a natural 40-man roster addition after being left unprotected this time last year. He reached Double-A in 2015 and shows promise with three pitches, including a fastball that has reach 95.
RHP Jacob Esch—A converted position player, Esch reached Triple-A in 2015, and he’s shown promising stuff in the Arizona Fall League. His fastball works 93-95 and touches 96. Esch throws both a curveball and a slider, which some scouts see as a potential solid-average pitch. He also has some feel for a changeup.
RHP Austin Brice—Brice ascended to Double-A in 2015, and has also pitched in the Arizona Fall League. His fastball works in the mid-90s, reaching as high as 96. He has struggled with walks throughout his minor league career, and surrendered five free passes per nine innings this season.
RHP Nick Wittgren—Wittgren has progressed through the minors with a solid-average fastball and a power curveball. He pitches at 90-93, but gets lots of swings-and-misses with his fastball thanks to his deception and feel for the bottom of the strike zone. Wittgren projects to be a useful bullpen arm, and he could challenge for a seventh inning role sooner than later.
SS Orlando Arcia—Arcia was among the easiest decisions for clubs on 40-man roster additions. The Brewers’ top prospect is the shortstop-in-waiting for the Brewers, perhaps as soon as 2016 after a great stay at Triple-A. He has a great arm, great range and great instincts at short and showed extra-base power this season.
RHP Jacob Barnes—After stretching Barnes out as a starter, the Brewers moved the former Florida Gulf Coast reliever back to the bullpen and saw his stuff tick up. Barnes sat 95-97 mph this season and touched 99 after sitting 92-94 as a starter. He also throws a slider and changeup.
RHP Damien Magnifico—Moved back to the bullpen after building up innings at high Class A Brevard County, Magnifico was touching 100 mph but still doesn’t miss as many bats as you’d think. He’s done a better job commanding the fastball and is tough to square up, but he’ll need to improve the slider or change to keep batters off the heater.
Minnesota Twins (40)
RHP J.T. Chargois—Chargois missed two full seasons with Tommy John surgery, but he bounced back to touch 100+ mph pretty regularly this year. Like many hard-throwing minor league relievers he struggles with control at times, but his stuff is exceptional.
RHP Yorman Landa—Landa missed much of 2014 because of shoulder surgery, but his stuff has bounced back nicely. The righthander gets excellent sink on his 93-97 mph fastball.
LHP Pat Dean—Dean has very little projection to him as the lefty mixes four pitches, none of which is plus, but he throws strikes and is coming off an excellent 12-11, 2.82 season at Triple-A Rochester. He led the minors with 180 innings pitched.
LHP Mason Melotakis—Melotakis missed all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery but the Twins were worried enough that someone would take a chance on a lefty with a 94-97 mph fastball that they decided they had to protect him.
LHP Taylor Rogers—Another polished lefty with a sinking fastball to go with a usable curveball and fringier changeup, Rogers could compete for a rotation spot in 2016 although he’s a No. 5 starter at best. He has 199 innings pitched this year between Triple-A Rochester and the Arizona Fall League.
LHP Randy Rosario—He’s a long ways away (having yet to make it past low Class A) which makes this a somewhat surprising protection, but Rosario is hard to square up (three home runs allowed in 191 pro innings) and he has a promising fastball (94-97 mph) and a hard slider combo .
OF Adam Brett Walker—Walker strikes out a lot and he’s had significant throwing problems lately, but his top-of-the-scale raw power and productive power potential meant the Twins couldn’t risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft.
OF Brandon Nimmo—The Mets’ No. 5 prospect, Nimmo reached Triple-A in 2015, though his prospect stock too a hit. His patient plate approach hasn’t produced corner-profile power yet, so he’ll have to maximize his defensive value by staying in center. He grades as at least average there with graceful actions.
RHP Seth Lugo—The 34th-rounder out of Division III Centenary (La.), Lugo moved into the rotation after pitching in relief in high Class A in 2014 and excelled, walking about 2 batters per nine at Double-A/Triple-A. Lugo has spondylolisthesis—a displacement of a vertebra in his spine which cost him the 2012 season—but throws in the low 90s and has the repertoire to start.
RHP Robert Gsellman—Gsellman lacks overpowering stuff but was as productive as any Mets pitching prospect in 2015. He has a durable frame and average control and shows feel for three pitches that are at least major league average.
RHP Jeff Walters—A Tommy John surgery alumnus, Walters is already 28 but could find a spot in the Mets’ bullpen. A five-time draftee who was Rule 5 eligible last year, the physical righthander walks few (2.7 BB per nine in his career) and can get the fastball up to the mid-90s.
New York Yankees (39)
RHP Johnny Barbato—Acquired from the Padres for Shawn Kelley, Barbato was thought to need Tommy John surgery, but stayed healthy and was solid, especially after moving to Triple-A. He stands a solid chance of being a part of the Yankees’ bullpen at some point in 2016.
RHP Rookie Davis—A 14th-rounder out of high school in North Carolina, the physical, 6-foot-5 righthander can get the fastball up to 96 mph and has an above-average breaking ball.
OF Ben Gamel—The Yankees are flush with lefthanded-hitting outfielders but Gamel can hit. Gamel has no plus tools, but is a grinder with a line-drive stroke who makes solid contact.
LHP Jose Torres—The 22-year-old Venezuelan took off in 2015 in his first season as a reliever and first shot at full-season ball. He struck out 9.77 per nine innings thanks to a lively 92-94 mph fastball that peaks at 96 and an improved, if slurvy, hard curveball with 11-to-5 shape. He also mixes in the occasional changeup
2B Joey Wendle—The 25-year-old second baseman saw his plate discipline regress in his first shot at Triple-A this year, but Wendle also put that aggressiveness to use. He led the Pacific Coast League in hits (167) and ranked second in doubles (42), finishing third in the league in total bases (255). He’s a below-average runner and fringy defender but a grinder who can hit in the Daniel Murphy mold.
RHP Jimmy Cordero—Acquired as part of the deal from Toronto for Ben Revere, Cordero is a hard-thrower, having touched 100 mph this season. Now a full-time reliever, Cordero’s big arm would have possibly gotten him picked but his secondary stuff will have to improve if he’s going to stick in Philadelphia.
RHP Edubray Ramos—Ramos sits 91-94 mph and has a sharp-breaking curveball. He gets excellent arm speed out of a high-effort delivery.
OF Roman Quinn—Quinn broke his wrist in 2013, blew out his Achilles heel later that year and then missed the last two months of 2015 with a torn left quadriceps. Despite that, he’s retained his top-of-the-scale speed. He also made tremendous strides in center field on his routes and jumps. He sprays the ball around at the plate but his speed and defense make that approach work.
1B/OF Josh Bell—A switch-hitter with tremendous feel for hitting, Bell is a career .305 hitter who posted a career-best .347/.441/.504 slash line in a 35-game Triple-A trial at season’s end. His power has yet to develop, and he’s been challenged by a move to first base, where he struggles with footwork.
RHP Tyler Glasnow—The Pirates’ No. 1 prospect, Glasnow is one of the minors’ hardest pitchers to square up; hitters have a .171 average against him in 383 minor league innings thanks to a premium fastball-curveball combination coming out of a 6-foot-8, 225-pound frame.
2B Max Moroff—Moroff profiles well as a switch-hitting second baseman with patience at the plate to go with enough speed to steal a base and enough gap power to keep pitchers honest. The 22-year-old fits best at second but has played some third base and shortstop as well.
OF Harold Ramirez—Signed out of Colombia, Ramirez has a stocky body and has struggled at times to keep it in shape. When he’s on the field, though, he has the tools to be a first-division regular. He runs well enough to play center, has the arm for right and excellent feel for the barrel. If his power continues to develop, he could be an impact bat.
SS Jose Rondon—Acquired in 2014 Huston Street deal from Angels, Rondon faltered badly in first try at Double-A and has now been passed on Padres’ shortstop depth chart by Javier Guerra and Rudy Giron.
LHP Ty Blach—Blach’s control is excellent, but sometimes it’s a little too good. The lefthander caught too much of the strike zone in 2015 but his combination of plus control and a varied repertoire makes him a potentially useful back-end starter.
RHP Clayton Blackburn—Blackburn was an easy decision to add as the righthander slimmed down and stepped up to put together an outstanding season at Triple-A Sacramento (10-4, 2,85). Blackburn succeeds with average stuff and excellent control.
RHP Kyle Crick—Armed with an electric, mid-90s fastball, Crick has long been considered one of the Giants’ top prospects but he had to be a tough decision on whether to add him to the 40-man. With sustained strike-throwing issues, Crick moved to the bullpen as he repeated Double-A in 2015 and his control got worse after the move.
RHP Ian Gardeck—Another in the seemingly inexhaustible Giants supply of power relievers, Gardeck can run his fastball up to 98 mph at his best and he found the strike zone this year as well. After walking 7+ batters per nine innings in his first three seasons as a pro, he walked 2.5 this year at high Class A San Jose.
LHP Adalberto Mejia—Mejia ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the Giants system in 2014. After testing positive for Sibutramine, he was suspended for 50 games to start the 2015 season. He showed well in his return to the mound, but also missed time with a shoulder injury in July. The southpaw pitches in the low 90s and shows promise with both his slider and changeup.
LHP Stephen Okert—The Oklahoma lefty has always been tough on lefthanded hitters thanks to his lower arm slot (they hit .222/.305/.333 against him this year) but he’s also pretty good against righthanded hitters thanks to his low-to-mid 90s fastball.
RHP Jake Smith—Pitching in the same San Jose bullpen with Gardeck, Smith was even better. He sits in the mid-90s more often than the slightly harder-throwing Gardeck and misses a ton of bats (118 strikeouts in 84 innings this year). Not bad for a 48th-round pick.
RHP Chris Stratton—The 20th pick in the 2012 draft, Stratton’s career was derailed for a while by a concussion suffered when he was hit by a line drive in batting practice. His stuff is a tick below what it was at its best in college, but he has shown some feel to succeed as a back-end starter.
OF Charlie Tilson—Speedy outfielder who knows how to put the bat on the ball. He is stretched a little in center field and doesn’t have the power to fit ideally in the corners, so he has to prove he’s more than a ‘tweener.
LHP Dean Kiekhefer—Kiekhefer has dramatically improved his breaking ball as a pro, which gives him a chance to be a big league lefty matchup reliever. A 14-1 strikeout-to-walk rate in the Arizona Fall League helped him make his argument for a 40-man roster spot.
SS Aledmys Diaz—This is Diaz’s second time on the 40-man roster. St. Louis designated him for assignment during the 2015 season, which seemed to spur the shortstop to a strong second half. He’s a solid defender who hit four home runs and slugged .616 in the Arizona Fall League.
OF Patrick Kivlehan—Kivlehan has some hitting ability, some athleticism (he played college football) and lots of versatility. He can play first, third, left or right field adequately and he can play center field in a pinch. He may never be a regular, but his power potential (22 home runs in 2015) and versatility give him a solid chance to be a big league contributor.
OF Boog Powell—Powell has been traded twice in the past year, with the most recent trade happening in part because the Mariners had more room on the 4o-man roster than the Rays are likely to have. Powell has plus speed, although it plays more in the field than on the bases. He’s likely a lefthanded-hitting fourth outfielder who could play his way into a slightly larger role.
RHP Jacob Faria—Faria commands four pitches and competes in the strike zone with average fastball velocity. His best secondary is his changeup, which some scouts see as a plus pitch. He saw success in Double-A in 2015.
LHP Blake Snell—Everything came together for Snell in 2015 as he ascended through the Rays system and reached Triple-A. This year’s Minor League Player Of The Year has reached 97 mph with his fastball, and he earns high praise from evaluators for his exceptional changeup.
RHP Taylor Guerrieri—Guerrieri’s journey through the minor leagues stalled in 2013 due to Tommy John surgery and a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s rules regarding drugs of abuse. In 2015, Guerrieri’s fastball worked mostly in the low 90s, showing excellent late life. Several evaluators believe that he will be able to regain the mid-90s velocity he had earlier in his career. His hard, upper-70s curveball is his best secondary pitch.
RHP German Marquez—Marquez excelled in high Class A in 2015, thanks to a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and has reached as high as 97, as well as a curveball that some scouts believe could be a plus pitch.
OF/3B Taylor Motter—The 26-year-old Motter excelled in Triple-A Durham in 2015, and is knocking on the door as a potential super utility player. He is an adequate defender all over the field, and he has above-average speed. Motter has some feel to hit, and he has average power as well.
RHP Jose LeClerc—Pay no attention to his horrid season in Double-A (6-8, 5.77) as the Rangers tried to start him. LeClerc likely ends up as a power reliever with a mid-90s fastball (that touches higher) and a nasty breaking ball.
OF Nomar Mazara—One of the best prospects in baseball, Mazara is a big lefthanded outfielder who combines promising power with an advanced hit tool.
LHP Yohander Mendez—Mendez has had plenty of injury issues in his time with the Rangers but he stayed healthy this year and was very effective as a result. Pitching at low Class A Hickory, Mendez toyed with hitters with a 88-92 mph fastball that will touch 94 and a promising changeup.
RHP Connor Sadzeck—Sadzeck had a 9.71 ERA at Double-A and a 9.90 ERA in the Arizona Fall League. So why was he added to the 40-man roster? He throws 100 mph.
RHP Brady Dragmire—Dragmire relies on a heavy, low-90s fastball that has reached 95. The righthanded reliever is a ground ball machine, and in 2015 he induced 2.71 groundouts per flyout. He posted a 5.26 ERA at high Class A Dunedin.
RHP Blake McFarland—McFarland has slowly climbed the ladder since signing with the Blue Jays as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He was outstanding in Double-A and Triple-A in 2015, and every one of his appearances came in the seventh inning or later. McFarland pitched in the Arizona Fall League in 2014. He will be 28 when the 2016 season begins.
2B/LF Chris Bostick—Acquired from Rangers in Ross Detwiler trade in 2014, Bostick has power (10+ home runs in each of past three years) and stolen base prowess (24+ steals in each of past three seasons) despite only average speed. But he has a discouraging strikeout-to-walk rate and is limited to second base and left field.
C Spencer Kieboom—Kieboom is a solid defender who throws out baserunners with an accurate if not overpowering arm. He fits as a potential backup catcher eventually as his swing has some length but also some power.
LHP Nick Lee—The hard-throwing reliever pairs a 93-96 mph fastball and a quality curve and generates deception with some funk in his delivery.