As quickly as the 2017 MLB Winter Meetings began Monday for the Astros, it will close with the Rule 5 draft tomorrow.
Any team will be able to draft any eligible player who was not added to the team’s 40-man roster. Most teams protect their top prospects, but every once in a while a star slips through the cracks. The most famous Rule 5 pick was Johan Santana.
Many people don’t realize that Marwin Gonzalez was a Rule 5 pick by the Red Sox from the Cubs before he was traded to the Astros. This is a way not to have prospects stall out in the farm system and give them a chance to play in the big leagues. Josh Fields was a Rule 5 pick by the Astros. He was a capable reliever. Read about some more former Rule 5 picks below.
These players are typically Double-A players who are given the opportunity in the big leagues. They must stay on the 25-man roster all season unless they get injured. They must be offered back to the original team before they can be sent down to the minors. The Astros did protect Dean Deetz and Cionel Perez, but left two outfielders among others, unprotected.
Those left unprotected.
Jon Kemmer could be claimed by another team looking for a fourth or fifth outfielder. He offers mid-level power with a decent on-base percentage and some speed. While he has not been one of the elite prospects, he does have two years of Triple-A experience. Through his time in the minors, he has become a fan favorite.
On Sunday’s Talking Stros, my co-host Brandon made a bold prediction. He said the Tigers would draft Jason Martin with the first pick in the Rule 5 draft. While I figured that he would be drafted, but is he the best player left unprotected? We know the Astros value him, but maybe they are just gambling that they won’t take a player with only 300 at-bats above Class-A.
Martin was drafted as a 17-year-old outfielder in the 8th round of the 2013 draft. He is still young at the age of 22. Martin is the only top Astros 30 prospect who is eligible for the Rule V draft. As the 15th overall player, Martin profiles a decent hitter with some power and speed.
His defense is what could hold him back. He projects as a centerfielder, but he has played all positions in the minors. Martin’s arm is not strong enough for right field, so improving his defense could help.
If he is selected, there is a chance that he sticks with an MLB team as the fifth outfielder and pinch runner. Last season, Martin hit 18 homers and stole 18 bases. Should he stick in Houston, he could have a Teoscar Hernandez rise.
His situation was a weird one. The day after the Astros chose not to protect him, the put Juan Centeno on waivers. If they knew that, they could have protected him. Maybe they think that Martin is replaceable. We will see what happens.
***Stats from MLB Pipeline***