The Yankees have a full 40-man roster, and they have plenty of the fringy, unproven players that the Rule 5 draft provides. They even have one Rule 5 pick already on the roster in left-hander Cesar Cabral. The Yankees might not be active in this morning’s Rule 5 draft — it starts at 10 a.m. ET — but they could lose some guys. Here are six Yankees minor leaguers — each at a different position — who stand out as Rule 5 possibilities.
Signed out of obscurity last winter, the Yankees actually gave Cedeno an invitation to big league camp despite the fact he’d never pitched above Double-A. He wound up in Triple-A and pitched pretty well with a 2.81 ERA and a .240 opponents batting average against lefties. His winter ball numbers in the Dominican Republic are pretty similar. A team could take a shot on him as a lefty specialist.
A solid reliever with the Phillies in 2011, Herndon wound up needing Tommy John surgery last year and won’t be able to open the season. But that doesn’t mean a team couldn’t take him in the Rule 5 and stash him on the disabled list until he’s ready to pitch in June. The Yankees claimed Herndon off waivers earlier this winter, then they designated him for assignment and re-signed him to a minor league deal. Teams have passed on him through waivers, but situations change and someone might be interested in the bullpen depth.
Signed out of independent ball, Nuno made Baseball America’s list of players who could be taken in the Rule 5. He opened last season in High-A Tampa’s bullpen, but spent much of the year at the top of Double-A Trenton’s rotation (along with prospect Brett Marshall, who was protected from the Rule 5). Nuno had a 2.45 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 114 Double-A innings. A team could look at him as a back-of-the-rotation candidate or a long relief possibility.
At this time last year, Maruszak would have been nowhere near the Rule 5 radar, and even now he might be a long shot. But Maruszak is coming off a nice breakout season in Double-A — he hit .276/.330/.457 despite a terrible month of April — and he’s a legitimate utility infielder who’s come up as a shortstop with experience at first, second and third (he’s also caught a little bit in spring training).
A 19th-round pick in 2009, Murton realistically does not seem like a particularly strong Rule 5 choice because he’s limited to first base and hasn’t been an overwhelming hitter in the minors. That said, he did lead the Yankees organization with 25 home runs last season. Power bats occasionally go in the Rule 5, and Murton does have some pop, but it’s hard to see him fitting on a big league roster.
Two things that make Almonte a Rule 5 candidate: Speed and versatility. After becoming a minor league free agent, the Yankees re-signed Almonte to another minor league deal. His potential has always kept him on the prospect radar, but he’s moved slowly through the system. Last season he hit .276/.350/.392 in Double-A, but what makes him most attractive is the fact he played all three outfield positions and had 30 steals (while being caught five times).