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With just over a week remaining until Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, it’s shaping up to be a solid year for Rule 5 picks. Stats may not matter if you’re an MLB veteran, but for Rule 5 picks, there isn’t much time to impress a new club, so a good (or bad) outing or two may be the difference between an MLB job and a return to the minors.
Outfielders Akil Baddoo and Ka’ai Tom have made the most of their opportunities, and the same can be said for righthanders Garrett Whitlock and Trevor Stephan. Stephan has already been told he has made the roster.
MLB Rule 5 picks must be carried on an MLB roster without being optioned to the minors for the entire 2021 season to fulfill the Rule 5 roster eligibility requirements. Players can be placed on the injured list, but those who spend time on the IL must spend 90 days on the active roster before they fulfill the Rule 5 roster requirements, even if those 90 days carry over into the next season.
Here’s a look at how all 18 2020 MLB Rule 5 picks have fared.
1. Jose Soriano, RHP, Pirates
Stats: Has not played.
The Skinny: Has yet to play, as he’s on the 60-day injured list with an elbow injury.
2. Brett de Geus, RHP, Rangers
Stats: 1-0, 4.05, 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 7 SO, .250 AVG
The skinny: Left a game with stomach issues, but has generally pitched well until a poor outing against Cleveland on Wednesday. Rangers’ injuries in the bullpen add to his opportunities.
3. Akil Baddoo, OF, Tigers
Stats: .333/.463/.758 11-for-33, 4 HR, 8 BB, 11 SO, 3 SB
The Skinny: It’s hard to imagine what more Baddoo could do to earn a spot on the Tigers’ Opening Day roster. He’s shown power and flashed 70-grade speed.
4. Garrett Whitlock, RHP, Red Sox
Stats: 1-0, 1.00, 9 IP, 8 H, 0 BB. 12 SO, .229 AVGA
The skinny: He has likely earned a spot in Red Sox’ bullpen with an impressive, consistent spring.
5. Mac Sceroler, RHP, Orioles
Stats: 1-0, 10.38, 4.1 IP, 5 H, 5 BB, 2 SO, .278 AVGA
The Skinny: His ERA exploded thanks to one awful outing, but control problems may keep him from making the roster.
6. Zach Pop, RHP, Marlins
Stats: 0-0, 0.00, 4 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 SO, .143 AVGA
The Skinny: He hasn’t allowed a run in his first four outings, but more importantly his stuff (including a 94-98 mph high-spin fastball) has helped his case to stick around.
7. Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Rockies
Stats: 0-1, 7.50, 6 IP, 3 H, 6 BB, 7 SO, .167 AVGA
The Skinny: He had one four-walk outing to forget, but since then he’s looked major league-ready in three sparkling outings.
8. Jose Alberto Rivera, RHP, Angels
Stats: 0-0, 0.00, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 SO .000 AVGA
The Skinny: Visa issues delayed his start and means he’s barely pitched. He was offered back to the Astros.
9. Luis Oviedo, RHP, Pirates
Stats: 0-0, 9.00, 1 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 SO, .500 AVGA
The Skinny: He’s made only one appearance and it didn’t go all that well. He does throw 95-96 mph and can spin a slider.
10. Will Vest, RHP, Mariners
Stats: 0-0, 7.27, 8.2 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 10 SO, .323 AVGA
The Skinny: Having an ERA resembling a Boeing airliner in Seattle isn’t great, but the Mariners are giving him plenty of opportunities.
11. Kyle Holder, SS, Reds
Stats: .179/.324/.214 5-for-28, 1 2B, 6 BB, 9 SO
The Skinny: Holder hasn’t hit much, but that’s no surprise. He’s made a case to be a utility infielder by playing shortstop, second and third base.
12. Dedniel Nunez, RHP, Giants
Stats: 0-0, 10.80, 3.1 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 2 SO, .286 AVG
The Skinny: He pitched four outings before being placed on the 60-day injured list with a right elbow sprain.
13. Paul Campbell, RHP, Marlins
Stats: 0-1, 3.60, 5 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 5 SO, .118 AVGA
The Skinny: Campbell is making a reasonable case for a shot in the Marlins’ bullpen, but teams rarely put two Rule 5 picks in one bullpen because it limits roster flexibility.
14. Gray Fenter, RHP, Cubs
Stats: 0-0, 0.00, 1 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 0 SO, .000 AVGA
The Skinny: Fenter didn’t get to show much, as he made one official outing before the Cubs offered him back to the Orioles.
15. Trevor Stephan, RHP, Indians
Stats: 0-0, 2.16, 8.1 IP, 2 BB, 12 SO, .242 AVGA
The Skinny: He’s pitched well, and has already been told that he made the Indians’ Opening Day roster.
16. Ka’ai Tom, OF, Athletics
Stats: .450/.522/.800 9-for-20, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 5 SO
The Skinny: He was slowed early by an oblique injury, but he’s hit almost everything since he returned to action. He’s played all three outfield spots and has hits in six of his seven games played.
17. Tyler Wells, RHP, Orioles
Stats: 0-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 6 SO, .240 AVGA
The Skinny: He’s made a pretty strong case to earn a spot in the Orioles’ bullpen.
18. Dany Jimenez, RHP, Athletics
Stats: 0-0, 4.50, 4 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 SO, .235 AVGA
The Skinny: Jimenez was offered back to the Blue Jays on March 15. He’s in the Blue Jays’ camp as a non-roster invitee and is now pitching for them in spring training games.
Of the 56 minor league Rule 5 picks, nine have gotten some playing time this spring: Shea Spitzbarth (Pirates), Tyler Gilbert (D-Backs), Drew Ferguson (Mets), Errol Robinson (Reds), Garrett Williams (Cardinals), Seth Martinez (Astros), Reggie McClain (Mets), Ben Ruta (Padres), Chuckie Robinson (Reds)
The two most notable of those have been Ferguson, who’s hit .500/.583/.600 in 12 plate appearances, and Ort, who’s struck out five in 4.1 innings while touching 95-96 mph.
Minor league Rule 5 picks don’t have any roster restrictions and won’t be offered back to their original teams in any scenario.