While we have had several discussions so far this offseason regarding players that could be added to the Dodgers‘ 40-man roster to avoid being lost in this year’s Rule 5 draft, the deadline has finally arrived.
Wednesday, November 20 is the final day to perform such actions. Consequently, the draft itself will be held on the final day of the 2019 Winter Meetings scheduled to take place in San Diego on December 8-12.
The Dodgers already made one corresponding move back on October 31 by adding Victor Gonzalez to the team’s 40-man. The native of Mexico is a 24-year-old southpaw swing man who threw across three levels of the farm last year. Over 38 appearances—13 of which were starts—he posted a 5-2 record and a 2.31 ERA with 93 punchouts over 89-2/3 innings of work.
As far as the rules governing Rule 5 status go, our friend Jeff Todd over at MLBTR says it best: “Eligibility is determined by reference to the age and timing of entry to the professional ranks. A player that signed at 18 years of age or younger and has five seasons of pro ball is Rule 5 eligible if he is not added to the 40-man roster in advance of the deadline. Players that signed at 19 or older and have four seasons of professional experience are also eligible to be selected if they’re not added to the 40-man roster tomorrow. Teams that make selections in the draft will gain conditional control over the chosen players. To be kept permanently, a player must stay on the MLB roster for an entire season, with at least ninety days spent on the active roster.”
In total, the Dodgers have 24 players who fall into the Rule 5 category. However, most of these farmhands aren’t even close to being MLB worthy. What’s more, many will never hear their names mentioned among the notable prospects on the farm.
One player we mentioned as a lock for the 40-man is outfielder DJ Peters. Despite his high strikeout rate, he’s still among the club’s Top 12 rated prospects. After being promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City last year, his average rose about 20 points, showing just how difficult hitting in the Double-A Texas League can be. In all, the 23-year-old right-handed hitting product of Western Nevada CC hit 23 homers and 20 doubles with a .811 OPS.
He’s very quick for his 6-foot-6 frame, which allows him to handle center field duties easily. His strong arm may place him in a class among the organization’s best right fielders from a defensive standpoint.
Another player who could be on the bubble is 22-year-old third baseman Cristian Santana, but I’m not quite sure there’s another team out there who might like the righty hitting Dominican native enough to throw him directly onto their big league roster.
As we discussed previously, while he was once viewed as a legit power threat, Santana saw some strange things happen to his numbers last season. While his power stats dropped, his ability to hit for contact and average rose significantly. Exclusively at High-A Rancho in 2018, he slashed .274/.302/.447 with 23 doubles, 24 HR and 109 RBI over 131 games, but he punched out a whopping 143 times. Last year for Double-A Tulsa in the pitcher-friendly Texas League, he slashed .301/.320/.436 with just 10 homers in 102 games; however, he struck out just 88 times.
On defense, he’s much more advanced, as some believe he has the capability to be an above-average defender at the hot corner in the majors right now. He has excellent quickness and range, and his arm strength is probably his best defensive asset. In addition, his ability to handle multiple infield spots could potentially boost his value.
Somewhere in between is righty pitcher Mitchell White. Once ranked among the Dodgers’ Top 3 prospects perennially, the 24-year-old Santa Clara product has fallen off the radar as of late. Across two levels last season, he made 20 starts, posting a 4-6 record with a 5.09 combined ERA and a 1.30 WHIP over 93-2/3 innings of work.
Another handful of other Rule 5 eligible players who might raise the eyebrows of several rival clubs come draft time are position players Errol Robinson, Starling Heredia and Cody Thomas, in addition to pitchers Jordan Sheffield, Leo Crawford and Michael Boyle.
Wednesday’s deadline is 8:00 PM Eastern time.