After the success of Odubel Herrera (and many other 2015 Rule 5 picks) it is hard to not get excited about having the #1 pick in the Rule 5 draft this year. However, first thing is first for the Phillies who have to protect their own before figuring out who is available to be selected. The deadline for the Phillies to add players to the 40 man roster is Friday so this will all be resolved fairly soon. Currently the Phillies roster stands at 33 with a decent chance they add another arm, an outfield bat, and a Rule 5 pick. That leaves some spots, but not enough to go crazy. To help keep these lists manageable I am splitting it into hitters and pitchers, with pitchers obviously covered here.
Jimmy Cordero, Edubray Ramos
I have spoken a lot about Ramos and Cordero, both have huge potential bullpen impact. Cordero is 98-100 touching 101-102 with a slider that is starting show solid promise. Don’t be fooled by Ramos’ 7.45 ERA in the AFL, he allowed 7 singles in a game on November 4. Otherwise, including the Fall Stars Game he has pitched 10.1 innings without walking a batter, while striking out 14. He is also throwing 94-97 with a wipeout breaking ball. Not only should both be protected, there is a good argument that both are among the Phillies best 7 relievers right now.
If You Squint Just Right it Looks Good:
Rios is at his best as a reliever, but he is starting in the Arizona Fall League and has put up a 2.37 ERA over 19.0 innings while pitching 3-4 innings a start. His control has been solid with 4 walks to 14 strikeouts. His raw stuff has ticked up with his fastball at 91-94 as a starter and 94-96 as a reliever. He does have a 4 pitch mix with a curveball, slider, and changeup, but the reports out of the AFL have been mixed. The delivery is stiffer than it used to be and some of been unimpressed by him. If a team really likes him they are going to see a 22 year old who can get to 96 and has a slight chance to start. On the other hand, the Phillies will have 10 RH relievers on the 40 man roster if they protect Cordero and Ramos and Rios has yet to pitch above hi-A. Rios is a long shot to make the Top 50 prospects so the Phillies aren’t making a big bet if they lose.
Low Upside Lefties:
Ken Roberts, Hoby Milner, Harold Guerrero, Lino Martinez
Most system has a group of arms like this. They eventually surface like Ken Roberts did to the majors where they attempt to carve out a career as a LOOGY. Roberts is the best of the group here and all of baseball declined to claim him off waivers. Lino Martinez might be the most interesting long term of this group, but he has barely been healthy and has never been above A ball.
The Upside Just Isn’t Worth It:
Jesen Therrien, Miguel Nunez, Ryan O’Sullivan, Ulises Joaquin
If you are going to carry a player on your 25 man roster all year there needs to be some sort of payoff or immediate impact. All 4 players could put themselves in position to be major league relievers at some point in their career. However, you are not going to spend a Rule 5 pick and roster spot on a player who might eventually be the 22nd best player on your roster.
What is a Strikezone and Where Can I Find One?
Martinez is a 23 (soon to be 24) year old side arming RHP who is now in his second year of Rule 5 eligibility. The wrinkle here is that at his best he is 96-98 with a wipeout slider. He improved his control this year, walking only 19 in 43 innings. Martinez’s raw stuff shines on this list, but the likelihood of him doing anything is very remote. And oh by the way, he has yet to pitch above Lakewood.
You Can Still be a Prospect of Sorts and Not Be Good For This:
I like Ranfi, he is an interesting arm. He is 23 years old and just repeated Lakewood, but he is also 6’8″ and made huge strides developmentally in 2015. He lacks impact stuff, but he has a three pitch mix and good plane on all of his pitches. If he can continue his slow growth he has a non-zero chance to be a backend starter in a major league rotation. Due to a fastball that is in the low-90s and no wipeout secondary pitches, he makes a poor candidate for a reliever conversion so there is not a near term payoff for a selecting team. There is not much reason for a team to take Ranfi this year, which is good for his continued growth.
Hmm Well That is Interesting:
Jairo Munoz, Reinier Roibal
Roibal just resigned with the Phillies as a minor league free agent today (Nov 18) and will be eligible for the draft. He put up really good numbers in AA and can get it up to 94. He is also 26 which puts him firmly into the upside just not being there.
Jairo Munoz signed after a tryout this spring and the Phillies rebuilt him in the Dominican Republic before sending him stateside. There is upside here because he can get 95 with movement and the frame says there might be more. His secondary pitches are not overpowering and he is 24 years old with no experience above low-A. Teams should be able to find a Munoz like arm at age 22-23 with AA experience so he should be safe this year, but he is someone to watch next year.
Earlier in the offseason I thought Yacksel Rios had a chance at a roster spot, but based on roster construction and the less than stellar AFL reports it is hard to see them protecting him right now. That leaves just Jimmy Cordero and Edubray Ramos who should both be 100% locks. If either is left unprotected they are locks to be selected.
Photo of Edubray Ramos by Baseball Betsy