The Rule 5 Draft is Thursday, and with the Giants being the 2nd-worst team in the Majors, they could use all the help they can get. Then again, they could also lose a prospect or two in the process. So with the big day coming, here’s a look at the guys we may be reading about soon.
3 Giants Prospects Who Could Be Picked
1. Tyler Rogers, RHP - The 26-year old submariner reliever had a 2.37 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in his first full season at Triple-A. Sure, his 5.1 K/9 IP is about as ugly a rate as there can be, but his game is not about strikeouts. He gets ground balls, giving up just 65 hits in 76 IP, and a submariner reliever is about a different and difficult motion to time as anything. Rogers didn’t make the cut to make the 40-man roster, but could a team think he’ll be good enough to be on a 25-man roster all year? Quite possibly.
2. Rodolfo Martinez, RHP - Martinez can hit triple digits on the radar gun, and his fastball sits in the high-90’s, which makes his potential very high. However, there are two strikes against him. First, he has had troubles with injuries, getting into just 20 games this season between High-A and Double-A this past season with an oblique injury. Second, he doesn’t have a great offspeed pitch to pair his fastball with. On top of that, he’s had control issues, with 4.2 walks issues every 9 innings in 2016, and mixed results in 2017. Would a team ignore his problems to capture a high-ceiling arm that is only 23? Perhaps.
3. Sam Coonrod, RHP - J.J. Cooper lists Coonrod (along with Martinez) on his extensive list of Rule 5 potentials, but it’s not just about his stuff. Coonrod had a 4.69 ERA in 2017 at Double-A Richmond, in a year in which the 25-year old was eventually moved to the bullpen. Coonrod throws in the mid-90’s with a fastball, and has a good slider to pair with it, and some think the bullpen is his future. However, why he might get drafted is that he’ll be on the DL for almost all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery, and so he’d need to be kept on a 25-man roster for just 90 days to be kept by a team that takes him. It would limit a team’s 40-man roster for all of 2018, however, so it’d be a big risk.
5 Players The Giants Might Pick
1. Burch Smith, RHP, Rays - J.J. Cooper has him as the #1 guy on his list, and for good reason. With a mid-90’s fastball and two good secondary pitches in his curve and his changeup, Smith missed 2015-2016 recovering from Tommy John Surgery, but had a 2.40 ERA in 13 games (12 starts, averaging just over 4 innings a start) in the regular season, and a 3.98 ERA in 6 starts in the Arizona Fall League. Smith has a legitimate chance as a 5th starter on a bad team, or as a high ceiling reliever. In most years, there’d be more of a risk that he wouldn’t be available by the time Giants pick, but with the Giants drafting 2nd it’s a new situation.
2. Victor Reyes, OF, Diamondbacks - Obviously, center field is quite an opportunity for the Giants to improve, and there are very few major league free agents that are interesting that won’t cost draft picks. Reyes hit .292 with a .332 OBP in Double-A this year, and hit .316 with a .333 OBP in the Arizona Fall League. Just don’t ask about the power. But with speed (18 steals in 27 attempts in the regular season, 12 of 13 in the AFL), Reyes could be in the center field mix with San Francisco, but even as a bench player, he could be a defensive replacement for an older outfielder (either Pence or a free agent) and a pinch runner with speed.
3. D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B, Reds - If the Giants want to give a chance to a right-hander with power potential, Peterson could fit. Peterson was a first round pick, 12th overall, in the 2013 draft, but he was waived in 2017 by the Mariners. He’s been put on waivers twice this year, first picked up by the White Sox and then the Reds, which would be a bad sign a team might take him in the Rule 5. But as a corner infield bench spot, Peterson might hold some value to a team needing 3B options.
4. Franmil Reyes, LF, Padres - The 22-year old Reyes offers real power potential in left field for the Giants. He was the leading home run hitter in the Padres system in Double-A, hitting 25 with a .258 batting average and a .322 on-base percentage. He comes with some limitations, including a less-than great hit tool and not the best defense, but as a right-handed power hitter, he’d add some value to the Giants in a spot that was filled with too many different names in 2017.
5. Caleb Dirks, RHP, Braves - The 24-year old reliever hit a road bump in Triple-A, with a 4.02 ERA that looks very different from his career 1.91 ERA. While Dirks does not throw particularly hard with a low-90’s fastball, he mixes it with deception and a good slider. He maintained a good strikeout rate (45 in 40.1 IP) and not a lot of hits (.235 average against). Dirks is a guy who could slide into middle relief in most bullpens across baseball.
4 Giants Who Could Be Roster Casualties After The Rule 5 Draft And/Or Free Agent Signings
The Giants’ 40-man roster is currently at 39, giving the Giants little room to add both a Rule 5 draftee and a free agent. Although the Giants made some additions and subtractions in the weeks before the Rule 5 Draft, they may continue to adjust their roster if they find people worth adding. Waivers in December aren’t the worst, because other teams would be unlikely to add someone in lieu of free agency, but it’s still a risk. Here’s the Giants who may be ripe to go through waivers if their roster spot is needed.
1. Roberto Gomez, RHP - Gomez was a minor league free agent who got a September callup after he had a 4.07 ERA as a reliever and starter in Triple-A Sacramento. Signed as a minor league free agent before the 2017 season, the Giants don’t have a lot invested in Gomez, and he was a little surprising to have survived the earlier culling.
2. Pierce Johnson, RHP - If you don’t remember Johnson in a Giants uniform, don’t worry, he didn’t make any appearances after being claimed on waivers in September. Johnson has great strikeout rates in the minors, with 74 strikeouts in 54.1 innings, but with control problems and a 4.31 Triple-A ERA in his second season at the level. The Giants love high ceiling projects, but probably not more than 38 other guys right now.
3. Mac Williamson, OF - Mac had injury problems in 2017, but the reality is that his hitting has been trending the wrong direction. He hit 14 home runs in 94 games with Sacramento in 2017, but while hitting just .244. In the Majors, it was just 3 home runs in 28 games with a .235 average. If the Giants get an outfielder, Williamson may be the guy the Giants see having the best chance to go through waivers.
4. Chase Johnson, RHP - Johnson underwent Tommy John surgery in mid-May. Johnson has potential after putting up a 3.27 ERA in Double-A as a swingman, but since there is no 60-day DL in the offseason, he might be a safe bet to get through waivers since other teams may not want to give him a spot.
4 Prospects Who Might Persuade The Giants Not To Give Away Draft Picks
1. Steven Duggar, CF - Duggar’s not a great hitter, but he might be good enough. The center field market is likely to be Lorenzo Cain (who would cost the Giants draft picks), Andrew McCutchen (who would cost prospects), and not much else. Duggar can be an above average center fielder, and may have done enough to prove his health and convince the Giants to give him a chance to improve the Giants with his defense, and not use two draft picks to try and fill that hole externally.
2. Christian Arroyo, 3B/2B - Yeah, of course, this guy is no surprise to be on this list. But those who want the Giants to sign Mike Moustakas seem to do it with the assumption that Pablo Sandoval would be the Giants top in-house option at third base. But Arroyo is still the top guy in the system right now to play at third, and the team seems optimistic that his season-ending hand surgery went well and he will be ready for 2018.
3. Chris Stratton, RHP - And…
4. Kyle Crick, RHP - If the Giants can’t improve their offense, there’s a small train of thought they may try to improve their pitching. There are intriguing starting pitchers (Alex Cobb and Jake Arrieta) and relievers (Wade Davis and Greg Holland) on the market. But even after a 5.11 ERA in Sacramento, Stratton impressed with a 3.68 ERA mostly as a starter in the majors. Stratton’s re-emergence, coupled with Ty Blach and Kyle Crick, and Andrew Suarez in Triple-A, might help convince the Giants to let the kids fill in the pitching holes.
3 Players The Giants Will Regret Trading (If They Do)
1. Heliot Ramos, CF - Duh.
2. Bryan Reynolds, OF - Reynolds was an excellent second round pick in a year they did not have a first rounder. In two pro seasons, he’s been consistent in batting average and on-base percentage despite aggressive promotions. Some are frustrated by his lack of power (just 10 home runs in San Jose), but Reynolds is an above average corner outfielder who could fit a profile of focusing on defense and bases as opposed to power. He’s a major leaguer, but he’s most important because he’ll become one as the Giants need cheap, good players to offset the final years of some big contracts.
3. Andrew Suarez, LHP - After Suarez (who finished the season in Triple-A), the Giants don’t really have a good starting pitching prospect until you get down to Garrett Williams, who ended a short season in San Jose. And while I mentioned Stratton amongst a glut of interesting pitching options, I wouldn’t trade Suarez because he could be the best of the glut. He won’t be an ace, but he’s a great pitching prospect to have right now, and if anything, his value will grow more this season.
One final note on the Rule 5 Draft: MLB has ditched the Double-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft, so don’t go hoping for a Eugenio Velez-style pick. But, if there are any Triple-A picks, you’ll be sure to read about them here.