Baseball America has twice previewed this morning’s Rule 5 draft. Their first and most in-depth look listed 25 players who seemed to be strong candidates. A second preview listed an additional seven names generating some buzz during these Winter Meetings.
That’s 32 names in all, not one of them from the Yankees organization.
The draft begins at 9 a.m., and the Yankees left some notable players unprotected, but no one jumps out to me — or to anyone I’ve talked to — as an obvious Rule 5 candidate. Zach Kroenke was clearly going to be taken last year. The Yankees don’t have anyone quite like that this time around. A few candidates to keep in mind:
Wilkins Arias: Lefty who pitched well in Double-A last season. He’s also 30 years old without a day of Triple-A experience.
George Kontos (right): My pick as the Yankee most likely to go. Legitimate prospect, but he had Tommy John in 2009.
Lance Pendleton: Good in Double-A last season. At least held his own in Triple-A. Righty never generated much prospect buzz. Got through Rule 5 last year.
Brad Suttle: Highly regarded hitter out of Texas. Hit .293 with power in the second half last season as Tampa’s 3B. Injuries have slowed his progress.
Eric Wordekemper: Completely overshadowed in the Yankees system. Two straight years of good numbers in Double-A and Triple-A.
Of course, the Rule 5 isn’t only about losing players. It’s also about gaining them, and the Yankees are prepared to make a pick if a player they like falls to them. Last year they took a shot on Jamie Hoffmann, who filled a need at the time but became infinitely expendable when Marcus Thames came on board.
This time around, the Yankees could justify a utility infielder, an outfielder, a long reliever or a lefty. It all depends on where they find worth-a-shot talent. Remember, there’s no such thing as a sure-thing Rule 5 candidate. All of them come with uncertainty and questions. For obvious reasons, the Yankees won’t leak who they’re considering. Based largely on Baseball America, I’ll single out these possibilities, but these are little more than guesses. Think of these primarily as an attempt to find the type of player the Yankees might like.
Ed Lucas, Util (right): A six-year free agent who signed with the Braves, he can play all over the field and he’s shown a pretty good bat. Could be one more young guy to add to the mix for a bench role.
Scott Diamond, LHP: Had a 3.46 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last season. He’s been a starter, but could be interesting as a lefty who could throw multiple innings out of the pen.
Elvin Ramirez, RHP: BA reports that his fastball reaches 99 mph, and his winter ball numbers are pretty impressive, suggesting he might have fixed some control issues. Might be a long shot as a back-of-the-bullpen arm.