Photo credit:Mark Steffens/Fotoguy
Looking at the Blue Jays who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter
3 months ago
The date to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft is approaching.
By 6:00 PM EST on Tuesday, teams must add Rule 5-eligible players to the 40-man roster or risk losing them when the Draft takes place during the Winter Meetings on December 6.
The Blue Jays have 38 players on their 40-man roster and we might see them add a prospect or two before Tuesday’s deadline. Let’s look at some names from the Blue Jays’ minor-league system who are worth noting ahead of the Rule 5 Draft.
The 22-year-old left-handed pitcher was included in the Tesocar Hernández trade on November 16, 2022. Macko, who was born in Slovakia, raised in Ireland, and played high school ball at Vauxhall with Damiano Palmegiani, posted a 4.81 ERA and a 3.97 FIP in a career-best 86 innings pitched with the High-A Vancouver Canadians in his first season with the Blue Jays.
His K% dropped from 35.9% to 28.5%, but he also had the lowest BB% (10.8%) of his career, and more importantly, stayed healthy throughout the season. Macko is likely the only lock to be added to the 40-man roster, as he had a fantastic second half to his season.
No one in Toronto’s system has raised their stock as much as Will Robertson has in over the past few months.
The 25-year-old left-handed outfielder had a breakout year in 2023 with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, slashing .245/.323/.488 with 19 homers in 412 plate appearances, along with a 9.7 BB% and a 26.5 K% for a 118 wRC+.
He followed that up with an impressive Arizona Fall League, slashing .279/.449/.485 with three homers in 89 plate appearances, along with a 21.4 BB% and a 28.1 K% and a Fall Stars appearances.
He likely won’t be added to the 40-man roster, but he’s someone worth keeping an eye on in 2024 as he’ll likely start in Triple-A.
The 22-year-old Canadian outfielder had a rough season with the High-A Vancouver Canadians, slashing .218/.309/.315 with seven homers in 463 plate appearances for a 74 wRC+. Brown had a much better Arizona Fall League, slashing .274/.342/.397 with a homer in 82 plate appearances for a Fall Stars appearance.
Brown has shown to be able to put together a great season before, as he slashed .283/.383/.420 for a 131 wRC+ in 2022 with the Dunedin Blue Jays and Vancouver Canadians.
Mix that with 80-grade speed, great defence, and the potential to hit for power and average, and you have an exciting prospect. However, it seems unlikely that a team will look to take Brown after the poor season he had with Vancouver.
CJ Van Eyk:
The 25-year-old missed all of the 2022 season and most of the 2023 season due to Tommy John surgery. However, the former second-round pick pitched 34.1 innings between Single-A and Double-A, posting a 3.67 ERA and a 4.72 FIP in 34.1 innings pitched.
Van Eyk raised his stock drastically in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 2.51 ERA in 14.1 innings pitched with the 2023 AFL Champions, the Surprise Saguaros. This included a Fall Stars start, and appearance in the clinching game.
Before the Arizona Fall League, it seemed unlikely that Van Eyk could be picked, but after a strong performance, there’s certainly a chance.
Moving on to prospects that didn’t participate in the Arizona Fall League (it wasn’t intentional), we have the 20-year-old Venezuelan, Dahian Santos.
The right-handed pitcher spent the entire season with the High-A Vancouver Canadians, finishing the year with a 3.54 ERA and a 4.78 FIP in 48.1 innings pitched. This included a 27.2 K% and a 13.1 BB%.
His last game was on July 1, meaning he hasn’t pitched in over five months, which will likely dissuade teams from looking to pick him in the Rule 5 draft.
Other Blue Jays eligible for the 2023 Rule 5 Draft…
- Alex De Jesus was acquired in the Nick Frasso trade at the 2022 deadline. The 2023 season was his best as a Blue Jay, slashing .248/.340/.466 with 11 homers in 344 plate appearances. He missed the end of July and a large part of August with injury.
- Adrian Pinto is the prospect the Blue Jays got in return for Randal Grichuk. He has quite a bit of potential, but seemingly cannot stay healthy. He slashed .260/.413/.300 with no homers in 129 plate appearances during the 2023 season, but, for his three-year career, he only has 567 plate appearances.
- Gabriel Martinez had a breakout season in 2022, but struggled in his first full season in High-A. With Vancouver, the outfielder slashed .242/.300/.374 with 12 homers in 448 plate appearances for an 82 wRC+.
- Rainer Nuñez is in the same boat as Martinez. The 22-year-old first baseman broke out in 2022, winning the Florida State League batting title and the Dominican Winter League Rookie of the Year, but struggled in Double-A after his initial 159 plate appearances in High-A. The 2024 season will be a big one for Nuñez.
- Zach Britton missed most of the season due to injury, but slashed .218/.427/.309 with a homer in 75 plate appearances with Double-A New Hampshire when healthy. Britton had a strong 2022 AFL season, slashing .404/.482/.575 with a homer in 56 plate appearances, but due to his injury, it’s unlikely he’ll be protected or selected.
- Trent Palmer was pulled on July 1 2022, and missed the rest of the season with Tommy John surgery. He made his return in August, pitching 7.2 innings between the Florida Complex League and Single-A and posting a 2.35 ERA and 4.91 FIP. He had a rough start to his Arizona Fall League campaign, finishing with a 13.91 ERA in 11 innings pitched and an 18.8 K% and BB%. He finished strong, though.
- Lazaro Estrada is coming, and quickly. Despite putting up great numbers in 2023, a 2.83 ERA and FIP in 76.1 innings with Single-A Dunedin – it’s the stuff that separates him from most pitching prospects in the organization. He has a curveball that has had a spin rate above 3200 RPM, and a fastball that averaged in the mid-90s. Expect to see a jump to the upper minors quickly in 2024.
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