Aug 3, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; A view of the Houston Astros logo during the game between the Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park. The Astros defeated the Blue Jays 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Toescar Hernandez, 23 years old, AA, CF, Astros
I don’t believe there’s anyone out there who thinks Hernandez will go through the Rule 5 draft without being selected. His 5-tool skill set is just too enticing for all 29 teams to pass up on his as a selection. I’m not sure if he’ll last until the Jays select (unlikely) which is why he’s listed as the 5th guy on my list, but if he is I certainly hope the Jays select him and send him to New Hampshire.
The strike outs are currently an issue for Hernandez, but he has made some progress on that front. The problem is that it came at a cost as he changed his approach at the plate to mitigate strike outs and wound up hitting at a lesser rate. What didn’t go down at all, however, is his ability to steal bases and to hit HRs at an above-average rate for a CF. He finished the season with an encouraging .292/.379/.292 line in 29 September plate appearances.
That’s also why he’s listed as the 17th best HOU prospect on the MLB.com Top 30 list. His strong arm adds to the profile since he has potential all all 3 OF positions as a result. Hernandez has the ability to make the Astros look foolish for exposing him in the rule 5 draft, but when you have a system as deep as theirs, you have really tough choices to make. They may be banking on the strike outs thing being a serious issue, particularly in MLB.
Visions of a 20+ HR and 30+ SB CF in Toronto are all too enticing. Sure, we have depth at the moment, but with Jose Bautista set to become a FA after the 2016 season and Ben Revere reaching his last year of arbitration in 2017, depth in the OF is needed for the Blue Jays. Having Dalton Pompey and Hernandez pair up as extremely talented 5 tool potential outfielders would help alleviate some of the pain of those losses.
The Blue Jays didn’t make a Rule 5 selection in 2015. That was partially due to the lack of open spots on the roster and the fact that the talent was simply lacking once Delino DeShields Jr was taken by the Rangers. However, they did select Kelly Gruber and Manny Lee using the Rule 5 draft, so there’s definitely a history of success. Most recently, they added Brian Moran in 2013.
It’s also worth noting that while with the Indians, Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro selected 1B Chris McGuiness in ’12 (Rangers – returned), and Hector Ambriz in ’09 (from Diamondbacks). That’s not a whole lot of activity and may indicate how quiet the Jays may be in this rule 5. We will find out soon.
If you’re looking for more information on how the Rule 5 works, there’s a great broad overview found here from Milb.