I am continuously asked on Twitter about who the Phillies will protect in the upcoming Rule 5 draft. We are still over 3 months from the protection deadline with both September call ups and Arizona Fall League between now and then. This may all change, but I wanted to touch on the names and some of the theory behind this all. I mostly touched on those newly eligible and then previously eligible players who are in danger of being taken.
Locks to Protect: Andrew Knapp, Dylan Cozens, Ben Lively, Ricardo Pinto, Nick Pivetta, Nick Williams
Williams, Knapp, and Cozens are all top prospects in the Phillies system. Knapp could see time in September if the Phillies want to go 3 catchers for a bit, Cozens won’t be up this year, and Nick Williams looks likely to not be up this year, but could get the call. I am not a huge Ben Lively fan, but he is a starting pitcher in AAA and strict upgrade on David Buchanan for me. Pivetta and Pinto are better prospects than Lively, though a bit farther away and maybe a little less likely to stick in a rotation. However, both would fit in a bullpen right now making them easy draft and keep guys for many teams.
Locks to Expose: Malquin Canelo, Zach Green, Carlos Duran, Mark Leiter Jr, Tom Windle, Will Morris, Jose Pujols, Carlos Indriago, Ranger Suarez, Gregori Rivero, Deivi Grullon
There are a lot of fringe guys that I won’t talk about because they lack immediate impact or long term payoff (mostly because they aren’t MLB prospects), but let’s talk about a few of the other players here. I still like Malquin Canelo, but I don’t think there is enough upside here to stash and while his glove should be eventually above average, it is probably not now so you aren’t getting 2017 help. Jose Pujols is the highest upside player on this list, but he is useless to a major league team and even after carrying him this year he probably needs 3 more years in the minors to develop and deal with the lost ABs, just not worth it. Ranger Suarez and Gregori Rivero are interesting prospects, but you aren’t carrying a short season player unless you think they are incredibly special, and neither of them are close. I don’t think it is impossible that someone takes Grullon because catching evaluation can be strange, but he is likely not going to contribute with a bat for another half decade or so, and I don’t think teams can take that 0 even if the glove is great. From a Phillies perspective, he probably has more years of dev remaining than available options should they protect him now, making protection a losing bet.
Mark Appel: Mark Appel
For me Appel is a lock to be protected. Despite a poor year and being out for the season I see a high likelihood that a team takes him and just sticks him in the bullpen. Even with the idea of sunk cost the Phillies have a lot invested in Appel and a lot of motivation to see what they might have in him.
Carlos Tocci: Carlos Tocci
This will be Tocci’s second year of eligibility, he also has not yet turned 21 years old. He is currently tearing up the Florida State League since the All-Star break by doing very Carlos Tocci things. His power is limited, he makes good contact, and plays excellent defense. There is a role for Tocci on a major league roster as a defensive replacement, but as we have seen with Tyler Goeddel there is a limited number of at bats, and unless you are a terrible team, playing time is just nonexistent. There is probably still a chance someone takes Tocci if unprotected, there is a much lower chance he sticks in the majors given how teams have treated the Rule 5 draft.
Low Minors Pitching: Elniery Garcia, Shane Watson, Drew Anderson, Seranthony Dominguez, Alberto Tirado
These are the toughest decisions on the roster for me. Elniery Garcia is the best prospect on the list and with 3 average to maybe slightly above average pitches from the left side he has a clear path to the majors and the skill to potentially do LOOGY things in the bullpen, his protection status will come down to the wire as the Phillies set their plans elsewhere. Anderson is more interesting than Watson, but right now both are guys who sit low to mid 90s, with Anderson touching a bit higher, and not knockout secondary pitches. They have major league upside long term, but it is tough to see more than backend starter without significant growth, and there are pitchers out there with more electric stuff. Like Alberto Tirado. Tirado is down a level from last year, but he is throwing strikes with his same dynamic and impactful arsenal. It is tough to see him going from low-A to the majors and having success, but for the second year in a row he will likely have the most dynamic arm in the draft. Whether he is protected or not depends on whether the Phillies believe his improved control is sustainable. Seranthony Dominguez has a pitch arsenal that could eventually grow into a #3 starter or settle into a back of the rotation or high leverage bullpen arm. He does not have many innings under his belt and his command is fleeting at times. It is hard to see a team carrying him all year.
The Tweeners and Late Bloomers: Andrew Pullin, Jesmuel Valentin, Jiandido Tromp, Mitch Walding, Cameron Perkins
Andrew Pullin has had a breakout year, but the combination of Reading, his small size, and extreme pull tendencies make him risky and unknown. Pullin almost certainly will go to Arizona Fall League this year and after that we will have a better feel for his future. Valentin probably should be a lock, but with Cesar Hernandez not giving up the second base job, Darnell Sweeney’s continued existence, and the possibility that the Phillies want to bring back Andres Blanco, his future is less clear. He also has limited upside as his likely role is probably utility player making his selection far from automatic. One of the players having a bit of a breakout this season is Jiandido Tromp. Tromp has interesting tools with both power and speed, but he is probably a left fielder in the majors making his utility while you are forced to carry him limited. Mitch Walding is finally putting his tools to work, hitting for more power and harder contact while still playing solid defense. Walding is limited to third base, which should help the Phillies sneak him through the draft because most teams don’t have room for a backup third baseman, especially one that lacks huge upside like Walding. Eventually Cameron Perkins will land in an organization that is not the Phillies. He is a tweener outfielder, lacking the power for a corner, and the glove for center field. Throw in that the system is deep in outfielders and that he is completely redundant with Tyler Goeddel and it is tough to see him getting a roster spot.
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