Halos protect Peguero from Rule 5 Draft

November 20th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- The Angels protected right-hander  from the Rule 5 Draft, as he was added to the 40-man roster ahead of Friday’s 3 p.m. PT deadline. Catcher  was outrighted to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room on the roster, while veteran reliever  was released.

Peguero, ranked as the club’s No. 23 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was acquired at the Trade Deadline as part of the deal that sent lefty Andrew Heaney to the Yankees. Peguero got his first taste of the Majors in late August, making three appearances and allowing seven runs over 2 1/3 innings. He didn't count as part of the 40-man roster at the time because the club had three players on the COVID-19 injured list.

Peguero, 24, posted a combined 3.43 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings across High-A, Double-A and Triple-A last year. The 6-foot-5, 208-pounder has a career 4.80 ERA in 213 2/3 innings in the Minors, as he struggled early in his career as a starter before moving to relief in 2019. He has a fastball that can reach the high 90s to go along with a slider that sits in the high 80s.

He was the lone eligible prospect protected from the Rule 5 Draft for the Angels, who notably didn’t add infielder Michael Stefanic, outfielder Orlando Martinez or reliever Connor Higgins. Martinez is ranked as the club's No. 26 prospect by MLB Pipeline, while others among their Top 30 who are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft include outfielder D'Shawn Knowles (No. 10), shortstop Livan Soto (No. 12) and right-hander Robinson Pina (No. 20).

But clubs have to weigh how close each player is to the Majors, as every player taken in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 Draft must remain on the active big league roster for the entirety of the following season or be offered back to their previous club for $50,000.

Stefanic, 25, is considered closest to the Majors after a breakout season that saw him slash .336/.408/.493 in 125 games across Double-A and Triple-A. But he hasn't established himself at a position defensively, so it'll be interesting to see if a club takes a shot on him.

Martinez, 23, reached Double-A for the first time in 2021, slashing .258/.313/.445 in 102 games and he also slashed .224/.244/.342 in the Arizona Fall League this year.

Higgins, 25, fared well at Double-A Rocket City, posting a 3.55 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 38 innings. He reached Triple-A, where he allowed eight runs in six innings.

Knowles, 20, has yet to play above High-A, while the 21-year-old Soto struggled offensively in his first taste of Double-A. Pina, 22, struck out 140 batters over 95 1/3 innings across three levels, but he had a 9.39 ERA in 15 1/3 frames at Double-A.