As the Winter Meetings in Dallas draw to a close, the final event on the agenda will be this morning’s Rule 5 Draft. The Blue Jays’ 40-man roster is currently maxed out, so GM Alex Anthopoulos will have to clear some room in order to participate in the Major League phase of the event, since clubs are ineligible to select a player if their 40-man roster is full.
Though unlikely to make a selection this year, Anthopoulos could make a move depending on the player available, with leading candidates to be removed from the Jays’ 40-man including relievers Trystan Magnuson, Danny Farquhar, Jesse Chavez, and Alan Farina, as well as catcher Brian Jeroloman.
“We may create a spot. There is a very select group of guys that we would consider in the Rule 5,” Anthopoulos told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “We’re trying to determine if we think they’ll get to us. If there’s a strong possibility that they won’t we won’t create a spot. If we think there’s a chance we may create a spot.”
Here’s a look at what players could potentially be in Anthopoulos’ “select group of guys”, along with the rules of the Draft and whether or not any current Blue Jays prospects could get plucked away as well.
Players that were signed when they were 18 years old and have spent five seasons in the minor leagues are eligible to be selected in the Draft, along with players who were signed when they were 19 years of age or older and have spent four years in the minors. After that, a team must put players on the 40-man roster in order to protect them from being eligible in the Rule 5.
Teams whose players are selected in the Major League phase of the draft will receive $50,000 per player. The players selected, though, must remain on the new club’s 25-man roster for the entire season after the draft or be offered back to their parent organization for half the price.
Last year, the Jays opted to stand pat in the Major League phase of the Draft. There are, however, Triple-A and Double-A portions of the Draft as well, with those selections cost $12,000 and $4,000, respectively. Almost no future big leaguers emerge from this process, though, as it’s basically a tool for Major League teams to fill out minor league affiliates rather than obtain talent. Last year, the Jays selected second baseman Ivan Contreras, who hit .225 with a .590 OPS in 91 games for Hi-A Dunedin, and third baseman Roan Salas, who hit .259 with a .736 OPS in 39 games for Short-A Vancouver, in the minor league portion of the Draft.
The Jays have over 30 prospects that are eligible to be selected in this year’s draft, and the full list can be found over in a FanPost on Bluebird Banter. Particular names of interest include reliever Matt Wright, who had one of the best K:BB ratios in the Jays’ system in 2011, and Jon Talley, who clubbed 20 home runs with Hi-A Dunedin this past seaosn, but it’s unlikely that any Jays prospect actually gets selected this year.
There are, however, some interesting names to look at from other organizations, but according to Anthopoulos, the Jays aren’t looking to just add big league filler via the Rule 5.
“For me, I know there have been a lot of very successful Rule 5 picks but I’m more of a ceiling guy when it comes to the Rule 5,” Anthopoulos told Chisholm in the same blog post. “Some teams look at it like, let’s just get someone who can be on the big league roster, and there’s some value to that, I’d rather be aggressive and go ceiling, swing for the fences for the pick if we can.”
Here are my top choices for the Jays in this year’s draft, though it will remain to be seen if any of them are available when the Jays pick 17th.
Tyler Cloyd (SP, Phillies) | 2011 level: Hi-A/Double-A
Perhaps my top choice for the Jays this year, Tyler Cloyd was used both in the rotation and out of the bullpen when he opened the 2011 season with the Hi-A Clearwater Threshers. After 39 successful innings there, though, he was promoted to Double-A Reading where he returned to being used almost exclusively as a starter and posted the best numbers of his minor league career.
In 18 games (17 starts, 106.2 innings), Cloyd managed a 2.78 ERA and nearly identical 2.82 FIP with 99 strikeouts to 15 walks. The right-hander has an average fastball with a good slider/changeup off-speed mix, and it should be noted that he pitched in Double-A Eastern League while with Reading, the same league as the New Hampshire Fisher Cats where the Jays have promoted from.
Cloyd turns 25 in May and his ultimate ceiling is uncertain, but he could be an interesting option for the Jays if he’s available.
Steven Geltz (RP, Angels) | 2011 level: Triple-A/Double-A
If the Jays are looking at relief help, they could possibly look at right-hander Steven Geltz. After giving up four earned runs in 1.2 innings with Triple-A Salt Lake, Geltz was optioned back to Double-A Arkansas where he was electric for the remainder of the season. In 46.2 innings, Geltz managed a 3.09 ERA (2.69 FIP), giving up only 31 hits while walking 14 and striking out 67 batters, good for a 12.9 K/9. Geltz just turned 24 years old last month and has averaged seven hits with over 12 strikeouts per nine frames over his minor entire minor league career.
Cesar Cabral (RP, Red Sox) | 2011 level: Hi-A/Double-A
If the Jays aren’t looking to stick with Luis Perez as their lefty out of the bullpen (or possibly move Brett Cecil there as well), then left-handed reliever Cesar Cabral could be an option. Cabral, 22, tossed 16 innings with Hi-A Salem before getting promoted to Double-A Portland — also in the Eastern League. There, he managed a 3.52 ERA (3.15 FIP) in 38 innings with 46 strikeouts (10.8 K/9), but he did also see a spike in his walk rate and allow more than one hit per inning on average. He has logged the least amount of Double-A innings of the three pitchers listed here, but could be more intriguing given that he’s left-handed.
Other names that could be tossed around would be left-handed starter T.J. McFarland, right-handed reliever Rob Bryson, who posted low hit totals and a high strikeout rate across three minor levels in 2011, or first baseman Matt Clark, who has hit at least 23 home runs and 22 doubles in each of his last three minor league seasons, with his most recent coming at the Triple-A level.