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Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Rule 5 Draft Primer

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Photo credit:Vancouver Canadians
Brennan Delaney
2 months ago
No matter what happens with Shohei Ohtani, there will be transactions on Wednesday afternoon.
That’s because it’s the annual Rule 5 draft, as well as the minor league portion. This begs the question, which notable prospects did the Blue Jays leave exposed, who could the Blue Jays select to fill out their roster, and who have the Jays picked the past few seasons? 

Notable Blue Jays who are available in the Rule 5 Draft…

  • CJ Van Eyk was the only Blue Jay mentioned in an MLB.com article. The 25-year-old had a  3.67 ERA and a 4.72 FIP in 34.1 between the FCL, Single-A, and Double-A. Van Eyk also had success in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 2.51 ERA in 14.1 innings pitched, starting the Fall Stars game. Great curveball and a mid-90s fastball, but we’ll see if he’s taken.
  • Rafael Lantigua originally elected free agency, but re-signed to a minor league deal. This could show that teams had a lack of interest to give Lantigua a major league deal, so he may not be taken. Either way, the 25-year-old super utility player slashed .305/.425/.469 with 12 homers in 578 plate appearances with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
  • 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.

Other players who might be of interest to the Blue Jays…

As it stands, the Blue Jays don’t need any pitchers as they have a ton of depth for the bullpen, and their starting rotation seems to be set for the major league roster. So realistically, all they need is either a utility player or a power bat outfielder or first baseman for the bench.
  • Kameron Misner (25) is a left-handed batting outfielder who slashed .226/.363/.458 with 21 homers in 519 plate appearances in Triple-A. He walked 17.5% of the time, but had a very high 35.8 K%. He played each outfield position, mainly centre field.
  • Troy Johnston (26) is a left-handed batting first baseman who slashed ..307/.399/.549 with 26 homers between Miami’s Double-A and Triple-A teams. Between the two levels, he had a 10.3 BB% and an 18 K%.
  • Anthony Prato (25) is a super utility player who played first base, second base, third base, shortstop, and both corner outfield spots in 2023. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Prato slashed .255/.402/.435 while hitting 12 home runs, with a .174 BB% and a 22.9 K% in 455 plate appearances.

Notable Rule 5 selections from the past…

This begs the question, what is the Blue Jays relationship with the Rule 5 draft? Well, it’s been a hot minute since the Jays selected a prospect from the Rule 5 draft, as it was in 2018 when they selected Elvis Luciano (the first player born in the 2000s to play in the big leagues). Joe Biagini was the last impactful player to be selected, all the way back in 2015.
The last time the Jays had a player picked from the team was in 2020 when the Oakland Athletics selected (and returned) Dany Jiménez. Interestingly, he was selected the season prior before he was also returned. Jordan Romano is the most notable player selected in recent times, but the Chicago White Sox traded him to the Texas Rangers, who returned to the Jays before he became the all-star closer he is today.
As for the Minor League portion, the Jays selected Kekai Rios last Winter Meeting and slashed .209/.288/.313 in 184 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A. They also lost 2017 first-round pick Logan Warmoth. The 28-year-old slashed .239/.350/.358 with eight home runs in 429 plate appearances with Seattle’s Double-A team.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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