By: Luke Siler
This Rule Five Draft prospect list was a hard list to make, I didn’t have enough time to watch significant game footage of each player, but I did watch some video on each player listed. I also used stats and scouting reports to help put this together.
I probably missed some interesting guys, but I didn’t miss Max Pentecost, Kohl Stewart, or Trevor Clifton. I looked at them and they didn’t make the cut even though they were touted prospects at some point. Those guys may get taken because of name value or pedigree but I don’t feel they are among the better options.
The method I used to order these guys isn’t based on need for the Orioles, but just if I could pick only one guy, who I’d pick. This isn’t about who has the most upside, it’s a combination of upside, position, and most importantly immediate usefulness (aka how easy it is to carry a guy). A player who isn’t wasn’t to contribute and needs to hide out on the 25 man all season isn’t going to be in the top 10 no matter what the upside.
I’ve already written up some of the top guys and I’ve linked the write-up so you can read a detailed report on those players.
I excluded Orioles rule 5 eligible players from the list, but in case you all are curious where I think they’d fit on this list here you go.
Lucas Long would be around #10 for me, RHP who can help now as a reliever with a chance to be a backend guy.
John Means would be around #20, LHP who might be able to stick as a LOOGY or middle reliever with some starter upside.
Ademar Rifaela would be in the #25-30 range as a younger power bat with contact concerns who would be hard to carry.
Steve Wilkerson would be off the list, lots of utility candidates who either have more upside or are natural SS or both.
1. Burch Smith (Rays RHP MLB) – Has MLB experience, mid rotation upside if he can hold velocity (it’s a big if). If not, he still looks like a really good BP piece.
2. Nick Burdi (Twins RHP AA) – Best stuff available, recovering from surgery, but worth it. Won’t take a 40 man spot while on the 60 day DL.
3. Nate Orf (Brewers 2B AAA) – Most MLB ready utility guy, some upside due to the swing change (I actually asked Orf about his swing and he confirmed that yes he did change it this season, right about the time he started hitting for more power). Before you all complain, the reason he is this high is a believe in the swing change, he checks all the boxs for a late bloomer type. This is your best chance (obviously still a long shot) at a Justin Turner style late bloomer.
4. Nestor Cortes (Yankees LHP AAA) – Only LHP who is MLB ready, his deceptive pitching style should be able to eat decent innings in the back of a rotation.
5. Luke Bard (Twins RHP AAA) – Not the biggest stuff, but can help a bullpen immediately, and has some later inning upside.
6. Pablo Reyes (Pirates 2B/SS/CF AA) – Positional flexibility, defensive value, and well-rounded skills with the bat put him here.
7. Kean Wong (Rays 2B AAA) – Young for AAA, just 22, he has been promoted aggressively since being drafted. MLB quality defender at 2B, above average to plus hit tool, doesn’t hit for much power because he doesn’t get the ball in the air. Perhaps a guy who would benefit from adjusting his swing to get a bigger launch angle. Would be higher if he had more experience at other positions.
8. Jordan Guerrero (White Sox LHP AA) – profiles like a younger John Means with an above average changeup. Fastball is very hittable and will need to prove he can get run prevention results comparable to his K/BB. Rotation upside, could stick if his stuff plays up in the bullpen.
9. Wes Rogers (Rockies CF A+) – Rogers is a raw small school guy who was old for his level, but he’s got big league tools including plus-plus speed and plus bat speed (although the swing does have some length). Could probably hang on a roster as a defensive replacement/pinch runner (stole 70 bases in 82 tries in 2017). Has average or better regular upside if he’s a late bloomer.
10. Nick Ciuffo – (Rays C AA) – Ciuffo is already an MLB caliber defensive catcher and he’s finally gained back all the weight he lost from a mystery illness in 2014. He just had his best season at the plate showing solid gap power. He’ll probably be able to hit enough to be a backup catcher with a small chance for more.
11. Travis Ott (Rays LHP A+) – Lefty with decent stuff (movement, not velocity) and a lot of deception (low arm slot, high leg kick), could be a backend innings eater eventually. Hasn’t faced advanced hitters but is good enough against lefties to have a chance to survive in a LOOGY role
12. Travis Demeritte (Braves 2B AA) – plus defender at 2B, plus raw power, athletic but not particularly fast. Demeritte is held back by his huge swing and miss issues. He’s struck out over 30% of the times most seasons. It looks like he has changed his swing multiple times and he took a more whole field approach in 2017 which saw a drop in Ks but also home runs. Good pick for a utility IF with some serious pop, but probably is never going to make enough contact to be a regular.
13. Johnny Field (Rays RF/CF AAA) – A good defender in the corners and passable in CF, Field does everything ok, nothing well. He’s a 4th outfield who may be able to pass for a regular on a bad team. Ready to help this season.
14. Akeem Bostick (Astros RHP AA) – Big inning eater type body, decent stuff, nothing that wows, but enough to be a #5. Still young and filling out, will start 2018 at 22 years old, rotation upside. Probably will have a rough 2018 but could be a cheap backend option in 2019.
15. Jason Martin (Astros OF AA) – Can play CF in a pinch, but isn’t going to be average there, average in the corners. Has enough pop to profile in a corner, had some swing and miss issues in his first taste of AA, but has enough contact ability to be a regular if everything works out right. Not ready for the majors though, needs to go to a non-competitive team that can give him ABs.
16. Franmil Reyes (Padres RF AA) – The rare age appropriate power bat left unprotected. He has true plus power but some swing issues (excessive hand and timing movements). He’s huge and not particularly athletic so I’m not sure if he sticks in RF. Good pick for a non-contending team who can give him regular ABs.
17. Pedro Fernandez (Royals RHP AAA) – short, stocky fastball, change-up reliever. Mid 90s fastball and an above average to plus change-up. Has the look of a 7th inning guy at best who can go a couple innings if needed. Not much upside, but enough stuff and command to pitch in the majors now I think.
18. Brad Keller (Diamondbacks RHP AA) – big guy, young, not a ton of stuff, but a solid change-up. Could be a starter at the next level, but needs more polish. May stick as a mop-up middle relief guy.
19. Stephen Tarpley – (Yankees LHP AA) – the former Orioles has remade himself as a reliever. He doesn’t throw as hard anymore but gets a ton of GBs with his heavy low 90’s two seamer with nice armside run. He also throws two breaking balls and a change-up. It’s only 40 innings, but he looks like a new pitcher, one who could get MLB lefties out right now.
20. Roemon Fields (Blue Jays CF AAA) – older LH CF, plus-plus speed, above average defense in CF, decent bat to ball skills. No power, purely a slap hitter. Doesn’t have regular upside at all, but is a ready made defensive replacement/pinch runner.
21. Tyler Rogers (Giants RHP AAA) – Super extreme submariner. Tall, long arms, practically bowls the ball at you. Not going to strike a lot of guys out (only touches 80mph with his FB), but gets tons of groundballs and pop ups.
22. Victor Reyes – (Diamondbacks OF AA) – Tall lanky switch hitter, with a loose line drive swing and a good contact approach. Has the body type of a late bloomer, could grow into a regular if he adds strength for gap power. The swing isn’t conducive to HR power. Should get picked by a non-contender that can give him regular ABs.
23. Jonathan Davis (Blue Jays CF AA) – Like an older poor man’s RH Cedric Mullins, has lost a lot of time due to injury. Has been old for his level at every stop, but can run a bit, has some pop, and can stick in CF so you can squint and see regular upside.
24. Willians Astudillo (Twins C/3B AAA) – Built like a bowling ball, Astudillo has one defining trait, he doesn’t strike out. He has never struck out more than 5% of the time in a season. He has an easy swing and great eye/hand coordination. He only played in 36 games in 2017 but he seemed to adjust his swing to try and hit the ball more in the air, and he saw a major spike in XBHs. Hard to carry due to lack of defensive value.
25. Cale Coshow – (Yankees RHP AA) – Coshow is a huge strong RH reliever with a mid to upper nineties fastball and an above average slider. His control is lacking and he’s pretty wild in the zone as well, if he can improve in those respects, he’s got 7th inning/set-up stuff.
26. Carlos Tocci – (Philles OF AA) – Super skinny with no power, but a solid hit tool and the ability to play average defense in CF. He’s still really young, will play most of 2018 at 22 year old, but hasn’t added much weight to his “projectable frame” yet. There is some upside possibility here if you can suffer through giving him ABs.
27. Kyle Wren – (Brewers OF AAA) – this is a guy who probably should have already gotten a shot at the majors. He’s a tweener who doesn’t have the power for a corner spot and doesn’t have the defense for center but he’s done nothing but get on-base, the question is without power will his walk rate disappear against MLB pitching.
28. Jason Vosler – (Cubs 3B AA) – passable defensive 3B with an extreme uppercut swing, will probably strike out 30% of the time, will also hit for power. May benefit from the current home run friendly MLB environment.
29. Sam Coonrod – (Giants RHP AA) – starter, former prospect with a good fastball/slider combo, but below average control and no third pitch. Worth a shot as a power reliever conversion project.
30. Erick Mejia – (Dodgers SS/Utility AA) – another guy without the power to profile as a regular, can play a solid SS and make some contact.