The Rule 5 Draft takes place on Wednesday, having been designed to make sure that big league-ready players get big league opportunities.
The 100-year-old event permits teams to pick up certain Minor League players who have not been protected by being placed on a 40-man roster.
A team that’s selected a player in the Rule 5 Draft must pay the team of origin $100,000 and keep the claimed player on their 26-man roster for the duration of the coming season, or place him on outright waivers.
If the player then clears waivers, he’s offered back to the club from which he was claimed for $50,000.
Some of the highly touted prospects are already protected by the Rule 5 Draft, either where they are in their development or have been placed on their team’s 40-man roster.
This year the clubs had until mid-November to protect eligible players via the 40-man roster.
Baltimore Orioles: Nolan Hoffman
Nolan Hoffman is a right-handed pitcher and the O’s added everyone on their Top 30 to the 40-man roster who needed to be protected.
He was picked up in the 2021 Rule 5 Draft from the Seattle Mariners and he pitched his way to Double-A in 2022 and an effective stint in the Arizona Fall League.
New York Yankees: Antonio Gomez
Antonio Gomez is the best defensive catcher in the Yankees system, but as an offensive player he isn’t yet ready for the majors.
He had a .252 batting average with eight home runs in 89 Single-A games, having been signed for $600,000 out of Venezuela in 2018 - with the Yankees 9/2 to win the American League.
Minnesota Twins: Steven Cruz
Signed for $30,000 in March 2017,Steven Cruz fits the mould of most of the power-armed relievers you find in the Rule 5 Draft. Cruz has a lively fastball that reaches triple-figures on a regular basis.
Kansas City Royals: T.J. Sikkema
Strangely, the Royals didn’t protect T.J. Sikkema after acquiring him from the Yankees in the Andrew Benintendi trade, however the left-hander’s 7.44 ERA in eight Double-A starts following his move to Kansas didn’t help.
The 38th overall pick in the 2019 Draft has two different fastballs and a slider that is above-average. Could there be a club willing to take a risk knowing he could be in the bullpen straight away.
Houston Astros: Jayden Murray
Jayden Murray was acquired by the Astros in a three-team trade that involved Trey Mancini to Houston from the Baltimore Orioles.
Murray was with the Tampa Bay Rays and he might be able to make the jump to the big leagues after posting a 3.50 ERA which was mostly in Double-AA.
Texas Rangers: Antoine Kelly
Antoine Kelly pitched in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures game in July as a Milwaukee Brewer before going to the Rangers later in the month as part of the Matt Bush trade.
He can reach 98 mph with his fastball, however he has inconsistencies that led to his 4.43 ERA with 71 walks.
Philadelphia Phillies: Erik Miller
The highest-ranked prospect on any Top 30 player left unprotected, Erik Miller dominated with a move to the bullpen in 2022 in Double-A, though he struggled when he went to Triple-A. Miller was a fourth-round pick from Stanford in 2019 and has a fastball touching 97mph.
Atlanta Braves: Victor Vodnik
The Braves - 15/4 to win the National League - went over-slot to sign Victor Vodnik for $200,000 as a 14th-rounder out of high school in 2018 and he did get some time in 2021 to start. He’s had injury issues and pitched just 34 innings in 2022.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Malcom Nunez
There are some concerns as to why the Pirates didn’t protect Malcom Nunez as he was acquired from the St.Louis Cardinals in the Jose Quintana deal close to the Trade Deadline. Nunez homered 23 times in 2022 while reaching Triple-A.
St. Louis Cardinals: Inohan Paniagua
Inohan Paniagua has a fastball that reaches 96 mph, however the 22-year-old has only reached High-A and not until July.
The jump to the big leagues might be too much, however he may be worth a punt from a side not expected to win every week, with the Cardinals 11/1 to win the National League.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Jose Ramos
Signed out of Panama for just $30,000 in 2018 and has been playing in Single-A and High-A, Jose Ramos will need to improve at the plate for any club to take a chance with him.
San Diego Padres: Kerry Howell
The 24-year-old Kerry Howell has some versatility with experience at all three outfield spots, as well as second base and shortstop in 2022. His bat hasn’t been tested above Double-A though.