Three prospects the Blue Jays need to protect from the Rule 5 Draft
Tomorrow is the deadline for the Blue Jays to have their 40-man roster finalized in order to protect players from being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, set to take place on December 7th.
The Rule 5 Draft returns after it was skipped last year due to the lockout. Players signed before the age of 18 with five seasons under their belt as well as players signed over the age of 19 and with four seasons of service time are eligible to be selected, with the Blue Jays having a strong list of players who meet the criteria this winter.
As of right now, the Blue Jays' 40-man roster sits at 39 players and looking ahead, I believe there are three players that are dedicated locks that require protection from the draft this year, with a few "on the cusp" types that could also fit the bill. Before the draft was cancelled last year, the Jays added four players to their roster: RHP Hagen Danner, RHP Bowden Francis, LHP Zach Logue, and INF Leo Jimenez.
The Blue Jays will need to protect at least three players from the Rule 5 Draft before tomorrow's roster deadline
Heading into this offseason and tomorrow's deadline, the Jays will need to make some moves sooner than later if they want to protect the following three players.
INF Orelvis Martinez
Currently ranked as the Blue Jays' #2 top prospect, infielder Orelvis Martinez is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after being signed in 2018.
Martinez has been working his way up the Minor League ladder since 2019 when he started in Rookie League ball for the Gulf Coast Blue Jays. This past year, Martinez spent the entire campaign in AA with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and posted a .203/.286/.446 with a .732 OPS and a 96 wRC+ through 433 at-bats. The righty-batter also added 30 home runs, breaking the Fisher Cats' single-season home run record while finishing second in the Eastern League.
Defensively, Martinez split his time between shortstop and third base, starting 60 and 43 games at the respective positions. He committed 18 errors on the season, 13 of which came from playing shortstop, and finished with a .937 fielding percentage at the position while also finishing with a .948 fielding percentage at the hot corner.
It's no secret that the 20-year-old Dominican product has the power but he also racked up 140 strikeouts last season compared to 40 walks, so there is still room for improvement. Given his raw power, protecting Martinez is a must this offseason as I don't believe he would pass through without getting selected.
Martinez will likely begin the 2023 campaign in AAA and could be knocking on the MLB door towards the end of the season. With Matt Chapman eligible for free agency next offseason, third base could be open for Martinez moving forward.