The Winter Meetings closed out today with the Rule 5 draft, an event in which teams poach lottery tickets from other teams and players who have been stuck in the minors are given a fresh chance at the big leagues. It’s tough, but not impossible to find quality big league talent in the Rule 5 draft. Of the 18 players taken in the big league phase of last year’s draft, two finished with positive WAR, but quality major leaguers have been found before.
Before we get to the picks, a quick refresher on how the Rule 5 draft is needed. Players who are 18 years or younger and have spent five years in the minors without reaching the majors become Rule 5 eligible. Players who are 19 or older become eligible after spending four years in the minors before their big league debut. When a player is selected in the Rule 5 draft, the team that takes them must keep him on the 26-player MLB roster (or bounce them around on the IL a la Travis Bergen) for the entire year or return the player to the original team.
There’s also a Triple-A phase where teams can select any player not protected on the major league or Triple-A roster without any roster restrictions.
The Giants had four of their MLB Pipeline Top 30 become available this year. That group included Franklin Labour, Sandro Fabian, Ricardo Genoves, and Garrett Williams. Other names of note that were available were Jalen Miller and Jacob Heyward. Roger sagely predicted that the Giants wouldn’t protect anyone from the Rule 5 draft. The players with the most upside (Labour and Fabian for example) haven’t played above High-A and aren’t ready to be added to a major league roster.
The Giants didn’t lose anyone in the major league phase, and they added one highly interesting arm who, if all goes well, will be in orange and black come Opening Day.
Dany Jimenez, RHP
Jimenez is a reliever who FanGraphs ranked 35th in the Blue Jays organization. In 59 innings spread across High-A and Double-A, Jimenez struck out 93 batters while walking 21 and surrendering 6 homers. Jimenez, 25, originally signed as an international free agent in 2015 and made the 2018 Midwest League All-Star team.
Baseball America has this to say about Jimenez:
Jimenez was outstanding in 2019. He struck out 14 batters per nine innings between Class A and Double-A while allowing only a 1.12 WHIP. Jimenez has a high-90s fastball with arm-side run, a plus slider, and a low-80s changeup that shows promise. Most power arms with his kind of experience who are available in the Rule 5 draft either have zero upper level minor league experience or well-below-average control. Jimenez spent half of the year in Double-A and has average control (3.2 BB/9). He is one of the more well-rounded prospects available with fewer drawbacks than most available arms.
10. Giants. Dany Jimenez, RHP, Blue Jays. My favorite player in the draft. Stuff+upper level experience (AA)+control.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) December 12, 2019
Here’s video of him pitching in a game from May of earlier this year.
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see what JJ Cooper’s favorite player in the draft can do under the tutelage of Brian Bannister.
Bryan Torres, C
The Giants also took Bryan Torres, a catcher from Milwaukee’s system though he spent most of the year playing third base. Torres was taken in the minor league portion, so the Giants are under no obligation to put him on the major league roster. At 22, Torres has been in rookie ball since 2015. In 2019, he slashed .283/.373/.356 in 271 plate appearances. He has two career home runs in 207 games.
The Giants lost no one in the major league portion, but they lost three in the Triple-A portion.
Adam Oller, a right-handed pitcher who most recently pitched with the Augusta Green Jackets was taken by the Mets. In 2019, Oller had a 4.02 ERA in 17 starts while striking out more than a batter per inning.
Manuel Geraldo, a 23-year-old shortstop from High-A San Jose, went to the Nationals. Geraldo is coming off a season in which he slashed .255/.298/.371 in 512 plate appearances.
The last player taken was Miguel Figueroa, a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher who finished 2019 with Salem-Keizer. Pitching in relief this year, Figueroa’s strikeout rate jumped this year, but he also struggled with walks in limited time. Figueroa will head to the Reds who recently hired Kyle Boddy of Driveline, so I’m sure that in about three years, Figueroa will be getting Cy Young votes.