Scouting reports on all Rule 5 Draft selections

December 10th, 2020

Even without a Minor League or Arizona Fall League season to see how players developed over the course of 2020, teams came prepared to make picks in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. Scouting reports from Spring Training and instructional league, sprinkled with some shared video from alternate training sites, apparently provided enough information for clubs to select 18 players in the Major League phase, the most since an equal number were drafted in 2017.

The Pirates used the first choice on Angels right-hander Jose Soriano, who reached triple digits with his fastball in 2019, when he logged a 2.51 ERA with 92 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings between Rookie ball and Class A. The 22-year-old had Tommy John surgery this February, so it's possible he'll begin 2021 on Pittsburgh's injured list.

To retain a Rule 5 pick, a club must keep him on its active big league roster throughout the subsequent season. In order to send him to the Minors, it has to clear him through waivers and offer him back to his original team for half of his $100,000 Rule 5 price. An injured Rule 5 choice can be placed on the injured list, but faces the same restrictions regarding assignment to the Minors until he spends 90 days on the active roster in the Majors.

Here are scouting reports on the 18 players taken in the Major League phase:

1. Pirates: Jose Soriano, RHP (from Angels)
Signed for $70,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, Soriano sits in the mid-90s with his heater and also can miss bats with a power curveball and a changeup. Though he has averaged 5.1 walks per nine innings in his career, his athleticism gives hope that he'll develop enough command and control to make an impact as a starter.

2. Rangers: Brett de Geus, RHP (from Dodgers)
A 33rd-round pick out of Cabrillo (Calif.) JC in 2017, de Geus didn't make his pro debut until 2018 because a post-Draft physical revealed a heart condition. His stuff made a jump in 2019, when he displayed a 93-98 mph four-seam fastball and a pair of power breaking pitches in a low-80s curveball and upper-80s slider. The reliever posted a 1.75 ERA with a 72/13 K/BB ratio in 61 2/3 innings between two Class A stops and capped 2019 with eight scoreless appearances in the Arizona Fall League.

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3. Tigers: Akil Baddoo, OF (from Twins)
Baddoo is a toolsy center fielder with plus speed and solid raw power, though swing-and-miss issues have hampered him in pro ball. A supplemental second-round pick out of a Georgia high school in 2016, he batted .214/.290/.393 in Class A Advanced in 2019 before having Tommy John surgery that May.

4. Red Sox: Garrett Whitlock, RHP (from Yankees)
Whitlock reached Double-A in his first full pro season after signing for an above-slot $247,500 as an 18th-rounder out of Alabama-Birmingham in 2017, and he recorded a 3.07 ERA with a 57/18 K/BB ratio in 70 1/3 innings there in 2019 before requiring Tommy John surgery that July. He gives hitters a tough look with his 6-foot-5 frame, low three-quarters slot and the extension in the delivery, which combine to produce heavy low-90s sinkers and low-80s sliders.

5. Orioles: Mac Sceroler, RHP (from Reds)
Sceroler joins the Orioles, who selected his uncle Ben McDonald No. 1 overall in the 1989 amateur Draft. A fifth-rounder out of Southeastern Louisiana in 2017, his fastball and curveball grade as solid offerings at their best. He had a 3.69 ERA and a 127/29 K/BB ratio in 127 Class A Advanced innings in 2019.

6. Marlins: Zach Pop, RHP (from Orioles via D-backs)
The Dodgers drafted Pop in the seventh round out of Kentucky in 2017 and then included him in the Manny Machado trade a year later. After the D-backs picked him in the Rule 5 Draft, the Marlins acquired him in exchange for a player to be named later. He made just eight Double-A relief appearances in 2019 before having Tommy John that May, but before he got hurt he ran his fastball up to 99 mph with heavy sink and backed it up with an upper-80s slider.

7. Rockies: Jordan Sheffield, RHP (from Dodgers)
The older brother of Mariners lefty Justus Sheffield, Jordan had trouble staying healthy and throwing strikes in pro ball before finding more success upon becoming a full-time reliever in the Arizona Fall League after the 2018 season. He compiled a 3.27 ERA with 74 strikeouts (albeit with 43 walks) in 55 innings between Class A Advanced and Double-A in 2019. His 93-98 mph fastball generates an elite swing-and-miss rate, and he also flashes a hammer curveball and a nifty changeup.

8. Angels: Jose Alberto Rivera, RHP (from Astros)
Rivera went from signing for a mere $10,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2016 to reaching triple digits with his fastball in his introduction to full-season ball in 2019, when he logged a 3.81 ERA and a 95/36 K/BB ratio in 75 2/3 innings in Class A. His secondary pitches and control have been slow to develop, though his mid-80s changeup with splitter action shows some promise.

9. Pirates: Luis Oviedo, RHP (from Indians via Mets)
Selected by the Mets and dealt to the Pirates, Oviedo was part of the same Venezuelan program that produced Carlos Carrasco and features a similar build and stuff at the same stage of their careers. His fastball ranges from 92-98 mph with sink and both his curveball and changeup can be solid offerings, though he got tagged for a 5.38 ERA and had a 72/40 K/BB ratio in 87 Class A Advanced innings in 2019.

10. Mariners: Will Vest, RHP (from Tigers)
Vest began his college career at Stephen F. Austin State as a shortstop before missing 2016 with Tommy John surgery and bouncing back on the mound to go in the 12th round of the 2017 Draft. He has added velocity to his deceptive fastball in pro ball, touching 97 mph, and uses a hard breaking ball as his second pitch out of the bullpen. He posted a 3.27 ERA and a 58/18 K/BB ratio in 55 innings between three stops in 2019, reaching Double-A.

11. Phillies: Kyle Holder, SS (from Yankees)
Holder's outstanding defensive ability made him a 2015 first-round pick out of San Diego, and he has shined at shortstop in the Yankees system. He also came with concerns that he wouldn't make enough impact at the plate and hasn't shed that reputation, though he did bat a career-best .265/.336/.405 in Double-A in 2019.

12. Giants: Dedniel Nunez, RHP (from Mets)
Nunez is a starter with a solid fastball and curveball that both can miss bats when they're on, and he also has a fringy changeup. Signed for $10,000 out the Dominican Republic in 2016, he recorded a 4.39 ERA and 94/23 K/BB ratio in 80 innings between two Class A stops in 2019, though his season ended with shoulder issues in July. He returned in instructional league this fall and hit 97 mph with his heater.

13. Marlins: Paul Campbell, RHP (from Rays)
Campbell pitched sparingly in three years at Clemson, but showed the Rays enough to get taken in the 21st round of the 2017 Draft. A starter for much of his pro career, he may profile better as a multi-inning reliever with high spin rates on his low-90s fastball and his curveball. He compiled a 3.67 ERA with a 112/37 K/BB ratio in 144 2/3 innings between Class A Advanced and Double-A in 2019.

14. Cubs: Gray Fenter, RHP (from Orioles)
Fenter signed for a well over slot $1 million bonus as a seventh-rounder from an Arkansas high school in 2015, but he had Tommy John surgery in April 2016 and didn't return to starting until mid-2018. He had a 1.81 ERA with 123 strikeouts in 94 1/3 Class A innings in 2019, with his fastball, curveball, slider and changeup all showing potential as average to solid offerings. Concerns about his delivery and control may land him in the bullpen, however.

15. Indians: Trevor Stephan, RHP (from Yankees)
Stephan pitched himself into the third round of the 2017 Draft by leading the Southeastern Conference in strikeout rate (11.9 per innings) in his lone season at Arkansas. He can give hitters fits with a crossfire, uphill delivery that produces running 91-98 mph fastballs and mid-80s slider/cutters. He battled back issues and his command in 2019, when he posted a 4.73 ERA and a 91/29 K/BB ratio in 80 innings between Class A Advanced and Double-A.

16. Athletics: Ka'ai Tom, OF (from Indians)
A bat-first prospect when the Indians selected him in the fifth round out of Kentucky five years ago, Tom has hit his way through the Minors and batted .290/.380/.532 with 23 homers between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019. He's probably more of a backup than a regular, but he could be a quality left-handed bat off the bench who runs well enough to play all three outfield positions.

17. Orioles: Tyler Wells, RHP (from Twins)
Wells hasn't pitched in a game since 2018, when he logged a 2.49 ERA with a 121/31 K/BB ratio in 119 1/3 innings between Class A Advanced and Double-A before having Tommy John surgery. He's huge at 6-foot-8 and 265 pounds, and he commands a low-90s fastball as the highlight of his four-pitch mix.

18. Athletics: Dany Jimenez, RHP (from Blue Jays)
The Giants selected Jimenez last December and used him in two games this summer before returning him to the Blue Jays. He can overpower hitters with a high-spin 94-98 mph fastball and miss bats with a two-plane slider in the low 80s. In his last full season in 2019, he recorded a 2.59 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 59 relief innings between Class A Advanced and Double-A.