Scouting Reports For All 10 Picks In The 2023 MLB Rule 5 Draft

& 0

Image credit: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders pitcher Mitch Spence. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

We analyze every MLB Rule 5 pick, with an emphasis on why they were picked and what their chances of sticking on a roster are as we perceive it. You can find pick-by-pick results from both the major and minor league phases of the draft here.

1. Oakland A’s — Mitch Spence, RHP, Yankees

A 10th-round pick out of South Carolina, Spence made 29 starts for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre producing a 4.47 ERA, with 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.9 walks per nine. He mixes a low-90s four-seam fastball with a low-to-mid-80s slider that misses bats in and out of the zone. It’s a high-quality slider that made him one of the most highly coveted players in the lead-up to the Rule 5 draft.

Chances To Stick: Good.

2. Kansas City Royals — Matt Sauer, RHP, Yankees

Sauer ranked as high as 10th in the Yankees’ system at one point. While he’s not nearly as prominent a prospect at this point, there are still reasons to be intrigued. Sauer’s fastball/slider combination is effective as a starter and could play up further if he’s moved to the bullpen. He was an effective starter at Double-A Somerset last year, giving him a profile of a swingman who could help the Royals in the bullpen for multiple innings with an ability to spot start.

Chances To Stick: Good.

3. Colorado Rockies — Anthony Molina, RHP, Rays

Signed out of Venezuela in 2018, Molina was mainly a reliever until late in the 2022 season. As a starter, he’s shown he is a consistent, strike-throwing who logged Triple-A time in 2023. Molina’s mid-90s fastball is actually quite hittable, but his mid-80s slider has potential, especially if he could throw it more often in a relief role. Molina doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, and Triple-A hitters hit .312/.366/.432 against him, which is a cautionary tale for a pitcher headed to Coors Field.

Chances To Stick: Moderate.

4. Chicago White Sox — Shane Drohan, LHP, Red Sox

Few pitchers performed as well as Drohan over the opening months of the season. He allowed just five earned runs while striking out 36 batters compared to nine walks over his first 34 innings with Double-A Portland. The lefty flashed more power on his four-seam fastball and an improved breaking ball in a reintroduced cutter. The wheels came off when he was promoted to Triple-A Worcester. Drohan produced a 6.47 ERA and 5.78 xFIP over 89 innings in 19 starts with the WooSox. Despite his late-season struggles, Drohan has improved each season as a professional and possesses an above-average changeup. In fact, his changeup ranked 19th best across the entire minor leagues in 2023 for accumulated run value. Being a lefthander with a true major league quality changeup was enough to pique Chicago’s interest. 

Chances To Stick: Good.

5. Washington Nationals — Nasim Nunez, SS, Marlins

Nunez ranked No. 6 in the Marlins system, but is not ready to hit MLB pitching. There is no assurance that he ever will. Nunez does possess excellent defensive skills with the ability to provide above-average to plus defense across the infield. He’s a quick-twitch athlete and a double-plus runner capable of wreaking havoc on the bases. Nunez stole 122 bases over the past two seasons. While he lacks impact in the bat, he shows above-average to plus contact and plate skills. Over 585 plate appearances in Double-A this season, Nunez ran an in-zone contact rate of 85.5% while rarely expanding the zone as shown by his 21% chase rate. While Nunez is never going to provide double digit home run totals, his combination of infield defense, speed and plate skills could fit nicely on the Nats roster as a quality up-the-middle defender. 

Chances To Stick: Good, if the Nationals want him to be a defensive replacement/pinch runner..

6. St. Louis Cardinals — Ryan Fernandez, RHP, Red Sox

Few available Rule 5 pitchers can match Fernandez’s stuff. The righthander pairs a four-seam fastball at 94-96 mph touching 97 mph at peak with a cutter at 89-91 mph, a gyro slider in the upper 80s and a power curveball. Fernandez became more reliant on his cutter and fastball combination as 2023 progressed and the cutter became his primary pitch. Despite an inflated ERA, he struck out 25.2% of batters faced over 26 appearances in Triple-A. Fernandez has a checkered medical history that might scare some teams, but his outlier combination of velocity and feel for spin could be successful in the Cardinals pen next season.

Chances To Stick: Moderate.

8. New York Mets — Justin Slaten, RHP, Rangers
*The Mets then traded Slaten to the Red Sox in exchange for LHP Ryan Ammons and cash, per Joel Sherman

Slaten was one of the buzziest names leading up to the draft. After a command-plagued season in 2022, Slaten straightened out his strike-throwing in 2023. He cut his walk rate from 19.5% in 2022 to 8.5% in 2023. The improved control resulted in much better results at Double-A Frisco and a late-season promotion to Triple-A. Slaten is a pure reliever who mixes four pitches with plenty of power across his arsenal. Slaten sits 95-97 mph on his four-seamer with ride and at times cut. He pairs his four-seam primarily with a mid-80s sweeping slider that generates heavy rates of swings and misses in and out of the zone. His cutter is his third pitch, but is an effective weapon as a bridge between his fastball and slider. The cutter sits 89-91 mph with true cutter shape. He’ll infrequently mix in a low-80s two-plane curveball. With the strike-throwing improvements, upper-level minors experience and major league quality stuff, Slaten could be a worthy choice, and RoboScout agrees

Chances To Stick: Very Good.

10. Cleveland Guardians — Deyvison De Los Santos, 3B, D-Backs

De Los Santos ranked as the No. 9 prospect in the D-backs system. He has arguably the highest profile of any prospect left exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. He’s a classic power-over-everything prospect. His power, however, borders on double plus. De Los Santos’ 90th percentile exit velocity of 106.5 mph was top 10 among players 21 years old or younger. Despite his standout power, his lack of skills has limited his production over time. He’s a below-average contact hitter with aggressive swing decisions, which is a bad combination for any hitter. His lack of skill and ability in all other areas makes De Los Santos a risky Rule 5 selection, even despite the standout power.

Chances To Stick: Low, but he has the highest upside if he does.

15. San Diego Padres — Stephen Kolek, RHP, Mariners

Roboscout identified Kolek as one of the 20 best pitchers available in the Rule 5 draft ranking 16th with a Roboscore of 71, just ahead of fellow Rule 5 pick Matt Sauer. Kolek reached Triple-A this season with the Mariners making 44 appearances with Tacoma. Kolek mixes a sinker at 94-95 mph with heavy armside run, a four-seam at 95-96, a  sweeper at 83-85 mph with 14-15 inches or horizontal break on average and a rarely used changeup. Kolek’s two-seam does an excellent job of generating bad contact, with a .208 wOBAcon against it in 2023. With a deep arsenal of average or better pitches, a fastball that generates groundballs and soft outs and a slider that can miss bats, Kolek has a chance to stick with the Padres. 

Chances To Stick: Moderate, but with a chance to be a low-leverage reliever.

23. Texas Rangers — Carson Coleman, RHP, Yankees

Coleman didn’t pitch in 2023 due to elbow surgery, but ranked No. 27 in the Yankees Top 30 Prospects entering the season. Prior to his injury, Coleman sat 94-96 mph touching 98 mph from a flat vertical approach angle (4.4 degrees) with heavy armside run. Coleman’s primary secondary is his low-80s sweeper, a pitch synonymous with Yankees prospects. He’ll flash a firm changeup at 89-90 mph but it’s rarely used. Coleman spent the majority of the 2022 season with Double-A Somerset and closed 15 games for the Patriots. It’s uncertain when Coleman will return to action, but the world champion Rangers view him as a potential addition to their bullpen if healthy.

Chances To Stick: Low because of the Rangers’ roster depth but with some upside.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone