Projecting the 2017 Rule 5 Picks

This year’s Rule 5 draft came and went yesterday, with 18 players selected in the major-league phase of the draft. All the players selected will need to spend the entire 2018 season on their new team’s active roster (or disabled list). Otherwise, they have to be offered back to their original team.

Since most of these players do not have any sort of prospect pedigree anyway, I utilized the stats-only version of KATOH. WAR figures represent projections for the first six years of a player’s major-league career. For a scouting companion to this post, read Eric Longenhagen’s analysis from earlier this afternoon.

Players listed in order of draft selection.


1. Detroit Tigers
Victor Reyes, OF, 1.9 WAR (from D-backs)

Reyes has long been a KATOH darling. Look no further than his player page to see the articles in which he has been tagged.

KATOH has always believed in Reyes’s blend of youth, contact, and speed — a skill set he carried into Double-A last year. Reyes showed everything except for power as 22-year-old in Double-A last year. Given his 6-foot-3 frame, I wouldn’t be surprised if more power eventually shows up.

2. San Francisco Giants
Julian Fernandez, RHP, 0.1 WAR (from Rockies)

From a stats perspective, Fernandez looks like nothing more than an OK, Low-A reliever. But he throws exceptionally hard.

Still, the outlook for Low-A relievers isn’t good, particularly when they are 21-year-old international signees with mediocre numbers. The Giants are betting on Fernandez’s ability to light up the radar gun.

3. Philadelphia Phillies
Nick Burdi, RHP, N/A WAR (from Twins, then traded to Pirates)

Burdi is another stuff-based lottery ticket. He has faced just 75 batters over the last two seasons, which obviously makes it difficult to come up with any sort of statistical projection. But Eric Longenhagen gave Burdi’s fastball and slider future grades of 80 and 70, respectively, last winter.

4. Chicago White Sox
Carlos Tocci, OF, 1.4 WAR (from Philadelphia, traded to Texas)

Tocci hit well as a 21-year-old center fielder in Double-A last year, which automatically makes him interesting. However, his power remains non-existent and his 2017 numbers were somewhat BABIP-aided. Both the scouting reports and his performance suggest he lacks the speed and defensive chops to make up for his uninspiring hitting, unless he starts hitting for more power. Tocci’s profile quite similar to that of Victor Reyes’s above.

5. Cincinnati Reds
Brad Keller, RHP, 3.5 WAR (from Arizona, traded to Kansas City)

Keller struck out a respectable 19% of batters faced as a 21-year-old starter in Double-A. His ERA was hurt by an inflated BABIP, but the 6-foot-5 righty pitched well otherwise. Pitchers who can hold their own in a Double-A rotation at 21 are hard to come by and often turn into successful big leaguers. Keller was KATOH’s best available right-handed pitcher in the draft.

6. New York Mets
Burch Smith, RHP, 0.7 WAR (from Tampa Bay, traded to Kansas City)

A former Padres prospect (and big leaguer), Smith has pitched very little since 2013. He was just OK in the Rays’ system last season, though he did strike out 29 batters in 20 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

7. San Diego Padres
No pick

8. Atlanta Braves
Anyelo Gomez, RHP, 0.7 WAR (from New York Yankees)

Gomez shot through four levels of the Yankees system last year, turning in a 31% strikeout rate and a 1.92 ERA across 70 relief innings. The outlook is never great for 24-year-old relievers below Triple-A, but Gomez pitched about as well as one could have reasonably expected last year.

9. Oakland Athletics
No pick

10. Pittsburgh Pirates
Jordan Milbrath, RHP, 0.3 WAR (from Cleveland)

Milbrath pitched well between High-A and Double-A last year, but did so as a 25-year-old reliever. His 6-foot-6 frame is a point in his favor, but not nearly enough for KATOH to buy in.

11. Baltimore Orioles
Nestor Cortes, LHP, 2.9 WAR (from New York Yankees)

Cortes pitched brilliantly as a swingman in the upper levels, spinning a 2.06 ERA and a 25% strikeout rate. He was particularly dominant following a June promotion to Triple-A. As a 5-foot-11 former 36th-rounder, it is not hard to see why he’s been overlooked his entire career. But he’s a 22-year-old who has performed at every minor-league stop, including at Triple-A. Cortes was KATOH’s second-favorite left-handed pitcher available.

12. Toronto Blue Jays
No pick

13. Miami Marlins
Elieser Hernandez, RHP, 0.9 WAR (from Houston)

Hernandez pitched respectably in High-A last year, posting a 28% strikeout rate and 3.56 xFIP as a 22-year-old at High-A. Hernandez is only 6-foot even and is untested against hitters above A-ball, but he’s shown some promise.

14. Seattle Mariners
Mike Ford, 1B, 2.8 WAR (from New York Yankees)

Ford mashed .270/.404/.471 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017 after mashing .289/.411/.479 the season prior. Ford can clearly mash, but the concern with him has always been defensive flexibility, as he’s limited to first base. And at 6-foot even, he’s a bit undersized for someone with that profile. The Yankees signed Ford as an undrafted free agent back in 2013, following an excellent performance on the Cape the summer after his junior year at Princeton. Ford was KATOH’s best available first baseman in the draft.

15. Texas Rangers
No pick

16. Tampa Bay Rays
No pick

17. Los Angeles Angels
Luke Bard, RHP, 1.1 WAR (from Minnesota)

Bard faded into obscurity shortly after Minnesota took him in the supplemental round back in 2012. But then he put up video-game numbers between Double-A and Triple-A last year, anchored by a 35% strikeout rate and 8% walk rate. KATOH likes Bard better than the similarly obscure, mid-20s relievers listed above, partly because Bard has proven himself at Triple-A.

18. Kansas City Royals
No pick

19. St. Louis Cardinals
No pick

20. Minnesota Twins
Tyler Kinley, RHP, 0.3 WAR (from Miami)

Kinley is nearly 27 but struck out 32% of batters in High-A and Double-A last year. As I keep writing, the outlook for old relievers below Triple-A is not good. But one of them will probably have an ERA under 3.00 next year, because that’s just how relievers work.

21. Milwaukee Brewers
No pick

22. Colorado Rockies
No pick

23. New York Yankees
No pick

24. Chicago Cubs
No pick

25. Arizona Diamondbacks
Albert Suarez, RHP, N/A WAR (from San Francisco)

Suarez tossed 116 innings with the Giants between the last two seasons, turning in a 4.51 ERA and a replacement-level-ish performance. He missed some bats out of the Giants’ pen last year, relying primarily on his fastball and curveball.

26. Boston Red Sox
No pick

27. Washington Nationals
No pick

28. Houston Astros
Anthony Gose, LHP, N/A WAR (from Texas)

Once a toolsy outfield prospect, Gose never really learned to hit. He converted to pitching last year and struck out 31% of batters in 11 High-A appearances. It will be interesting to see how the Astros choose to use Gose in spring training. The Astros believe Gose “had the best stuff in the Draft.”

29. Cleveland Indians
No pick

30. Los Angeles Dodgers
No pick

Second Round

Baltimore Orioles
Pedro Araujo, RHP, 1.0 WAR (from Chicago Cubs)

Araujo dominated High-A batters last year, posting a 1.75 ERA and 33% strikeout rate. He also walked just 7% despite his gaudy strikeout numbers. Araujo is a 23-year-old who has one appearance above A-ball, but he’s been dominant enough to catch KATOH’s attention.

Miami Marlins
Brett Graves, RHP, 0.9 WAR (from Oakland)

Graves was a third-round pick in 2014 but struggled in the minors prior to last year. He pitched relatively well between High-A and Double-A before going down with injury in June. However, Eric Longenhagen noted in October that Graves was touching 96 mph in instructs.

Third Round

Baltimore Orioles
Jose Mesa, Jr., RHP, 1.5 WAR (from New York Yankees)

The son of the former All-Star closer, Mesa pitched excellently as a swingman between High-A and Double-A, posting a 31% strikeout rate and a 1.93 ERA. Despite his bloodlines, the 24-year-old has never been seen as much of a prospect, but he’s always posted gaudy strikeout numbers.


2017 Rule 5 Picks
Round Pick Player Position New Team Former Team KATOH
1 1 Victor Reyes OF Tigers D-backs 1.9
1 2 Julian Fernandez RHP Giants Rockies 0.1
1 3 Nick Burdi RHP Phillies Twins N/A
1 4 Carlos Tocci OF Rangers Phillies 1.4
1 5 Brad Keller RHP Royals D-backs 3.5
1 6 Burch Smith RHP Royals Rays 0.7
1 7 Anyelo Gomez RHP Braves Yankees 0.7
1 8 Jordan Milbrath RHP Pirates Indians 0.3
1 9 Nestor Cortes LHP Orioles Yankees 2.9
1 10 Elieser Hernandez LHP Marlins Astros 1.2
1 11 Mike Ford 1B Mariners Yankees 2.8
1 12 Luke Bard RHP Angels Twins 1.1
1 13 Tyler Kinley RHP Twins Marlins 0.3
1 14 Albert Suarez RHP D-backs Giants N/A
1 15 Anthony Gose LHP/OF Astros Tigers N/A
2 16 Pedro Araujo RHP Orioles Cubs 1.0
2 17 Brett Graves RHP Marlins Athletics 0.9
3 18 Jose Mesa RHP Orioles Yankees 1.5


I won’t bore you with write-ups for the guys taken in the Triple-A phase. Instead, I’ll provide you with a few notes and a gigantic table. Triple-A Rule 5 picks are not subject to any of the aforementioned roster restrictions. They simply become part of a new organization with no strings attached.

  • I saw Eduardo Rivera (SFG) pitch in the NYPL this summer and was impressed by his stuff. He touched 97 out of the pen and also threw a 75-79 mph curveball with good movement. Rivera has big-league stuff but has long arm action and very little idea of where the ball is going. He posted a 1.90 ERA and 34% strikeout rate in the NYPL, but that’s not terribly impressive coming from a 24-year-old facing hitters several years younger than him. He was with the Yankees last season, but had signed with the Reds as a minor-league free agent.
  • A former Cistulli’s Guy, Yermin Mercedes (CHW) hit .276/.340/.455 between High-A and Double-A last year while playing catcher. Presumably teams do not think he’s a catcher long-term, however.
  • Brallan Perez (OAK) has bounced around between levels and teams, but over the past two seasons, he’s hit a solid .299/.376/.374 in A-ball. He’s still just 21.
  • Tyler Smith (ATL) is a shortstop who didn’t embarrass himself offensively at Triple-A last year. The Mariners briefly called him up last June.
  • Brandon Barker (MIA) came to the Orioles in last May’s Brian Matusz trade. He pitched decently as a 24-year-old swingman in Double-A last year.
2017 Minor-League Rule 5 Picks
Round Pick Player Position New Team Former Team KATOH
1 1 Eduardo Rivera RHP Giants Reds 0.1
1 2 Yermin Mercedes C/1B White Sox Orioles 1.3
1 3 Mitch Nay 1B/3B Reds Blue Jays 0.0
1 4 Andrew Ely SS Mets Cubs 0.5
1 5 Jose Medina LHP Padres Mets 0.1
1 6 Skyler Ewing 1B/C Braves Giants 0.0
1 7 Brallan Perez SS Athletics Orioles 1.0
1 8 Damien Magnifico RHP Pirates Angels 0.3
1 9 Martin Cervenka C Orioles Giants 0.1
1 10 Drew Muren RHP Blue Jays Giants 0.3
1 11 BJ Lopez C Marlins D-backs 0.9
1 12 Joe Odom C Mariners Braves 0.8
1 13 Locke St. John LHP Rangers Tigers 0.1
1 14 Francisco German RHP Rays Tigers 0.2
1 15 Riley Unroe IF Angels Rays 0.2
1 16 Daniel Duarte RHP Royals Rangers N/A
1 17 Angel Moreno OF Cardinals Rays 0.8
1 18 Yancarlos Baez RHP Twins Yankees 0.1
1 19 Mitch Horacek LHP Rockies Orioles 0.2
1 20  Junior Soto OF Yankees Indians 0.7
1 21 Jay Gonzalez OF D-backs Orioles 0.3
1 22 Andy Ferguson RHP Red Sox Royals 0.2
1 23 Jacob Wilson 2B/3B Nationals Cardinals 0.4
1 24 Chris Nunn LHP Astros Cubs N/A
1 25 R.C. Orlan LHP Indians Nationals 0.1
1 26 Angelo Mora SS Dodgers Orioles 0.3
2 27 Wander Franco 3B Giants Royals 0.4
2 28 Tyler Smith SS Braves Rangers 1.3
2 29 Carlos Diaz LHP Athletics Marlins 0.2
2 30 Rafelin Lorenzo C Pirates Rays 0.5
2 31 Alberto Mineo C Blue Jays Cubs 0.1
2 32 Sharif Othman C Marlins Yankees 0.2
2 33 Tyler Baker C Mariners D-backs 0.2
2 34 Matt Ball RHP Angels Rangers 0.3
2 35 Jean Selmo OF Cardinals D-backs N/A
2 36 Sandy Lugo RHP Twins Reds 0.3
2 37 Lane Ratliff LHP D-backs Mariners 0.3
2 38 Luke Tendler OF Red Sox Rangers 0.1
2 39 Kaleb Fleck RHP Nationals D-backs 0.2
3 40 Jaimito Lebron RHP Athletics Padres 0.1
3 41 Ivan Castillo SS Blue Jays Indians 0.5
3 42 Will Allen 1B/C Marlins Tigers 0.0
4 43 Brandon Barker RHP Marlins Orioles 1.0

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. He's also on the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell None of the views expressed in his articles reflect those of his daytime employer.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 years ago

Not hard to envision Ford becoming the starting 1st baseman for the Mariners if Healy continues to struggle against RHP.