One of the final tasks of the 2023 Winter Meetings took place on Wednesday with MLB clubs assembling to take part in the Rule 5 Draft. This season, five ranked prospects changed teams, with nine prospects entering new Top 30 lists after being selected in the Major League portion of the Draft.
Those taken in that round join their new clubs for a price of $100,000. If that player doesn’t stay on the active MLB roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.
The players selected in the Minor League rounds are not subject to any roster restrictions and become a part of their new club’s organization.
Here is a team-by-team breakdown of changes to Top 30 Prospects lists:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Lost: LHP Shane Drohan (No. 19)
Added: RHP Justin Slaten (No. 25)
Slaten was originally selected by the Mets in the Rule 5 Draft, and soon after, Boston traded 2023 10th-round pick LHP Ryan Ammons for the right-hander. After operating as a starter for the majority of his first three Minor League seasons and seeing limited success, Slaten moved to the bullpen in May 2022 and had his most productive season to date in 2023. Featuring a fastball/slider combo, the 26-year-old fanned 86 batters while walking 20 over 59 2/3 innings. He also posted a 2.87 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and .206 BAA across Double-A and Triple-A. He has limited experience above Double-A -- just five appearances -- but Slaten has the stuff to stick in Boston’s bullpen.
Lost: RHP Matt Sauer (No. 25)
Top 30 replacement: 2B/SS Keiner Delgado (No. 24)
The Yankees lost the second-most players (seven) in the Rule 5 Draft, including the first two picks overall, right-handers Mitch Spence and Matt Sauer. Kansas City nabbed Sauer with the second pick. Replacing him on New York's Top 30 Prospects list was Keiner Delgado, a 19-year-old switch-hitting middle infielder who signed for $100,000 out of Venezuela in 2022 and has slashed 301/.459/.495 while swiping 70 bases in 101 games over his first two professional seasons. He has split time between second base and shortstop, but appears to be better suited for the keystone because of his fringy arm strength.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Added: 3B Deyvison De Los Santos (No. 12)
De Los Santos has not appeared in any games above Double-A, but his raw power and Minor League performance are enough to make him an intriguing slugger for the Guardians. The 20-year-old hit .329 and slugged 22 homers during his first full season in 2022. This past year, he continued to tap into his power, swatting 20 jacks, but his average dipped to .254 with 125 strikeouts and 25 walks. De Los Santos has a tendency to be overly aggressive at times, but he possesses pop that could fill a big need for the Guardians.
Added: RHP Matt Sauer (No. 22)
Sauer has had a history of elbow injuries since he was drafted in 2017, but while the Massachusetts native has had his fair share of roadblocks, he has performed at every level along the way. He has missed a ton of bats when he’s been on the mound and showed facility for relief work in the Arizona Fall League. His fastball-slider combination could be effective out of Kansas City's bullpen, but the Royals aren't ruling out a rotation spot.
Added: LHP Shane Drohan (No. 19)
Drohan is equipped with a four-pitch mix -- fastball, curveball, slider, changeup -- with his cambio coming in as a 60-grade offering. After two consecutive seasons where he posted a sub-four ERA, Drohan struggled in 2023 and his ERA spiked to 5.05 in 27 appearances. He projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter for the White Sox.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Added: RHP Mitch Spence (No. 23)
The A’s selected Spence with the first pick of the Rule 5 Draft. The 6-foot-1 righty enters the system as Oakland’s No. 23 prospect and projects to be an end-of-the-rotation starter for the club. Without a true top-end pitch, Spence lacks the supreme stuff to rack up whiffs, but he has good control, and a cutter and a sweeper that allow him to mix his pitch offerings. He posted a 4.47 ERA over 29 starts in 2023.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Lost: SS/2B Nasim Nuñez (No. 16)
Top 30 replacement: RHP Nigel Belgrave (No. 30)
After the division-rival Nationals scooped up Nuñez -- the 2023 Futures Game MVP -- in the Rule 5 Draft, Belgrave moved into the Marlins' Top 30 list. His live right arm prompted Miami to select him in the 15th round of the Draft in July and his stuff ticked up during his 11 1/3 innings as a pro. Belgrave's best pitch is a slider with late bite that sat at 82-84 mph during the spring but rose to 86-88 during the summer. His heavy fastball creates a lot of groundouts, and it went from parking at 93-95 mph at Maryland to 95-97 in pro ball.
Added: SS/2B Nasim Nuñez (No. 23)
The Georgia high school standout is a three-tool player, but he is near elite in those three areas. His 70-grade speed is evident both in the field and on the bases (he stole 52 bags in 2023), his 70-grade fielding is visible from his quick hands and smooth actions and his 65-grade arm allows him to make all sorts of throws from around the diamond. His hitting and power tools, however, are below average. Across four Minor League seasons, he has hit seven home runs and eclipsed a .250 batting average just once, when he hit .251 in 2022.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Added: RHP Ryan Fernandez (No. 26)
Fernandez enters the Cardinals organization as their No. 26 prospect and brings with him a fastball that can touch 99 mph, a cutter and a slider. The 6-foot right hander has served as a reliever since the lost Minor League season in 2020. The bulk of his 2023 innings were for Triple-A Worcester, where he had a 6.16 ERA but struck out 35 batters and walked just 10. Fernandez has the raw tools to become a viable bullpen option for St. Louis, he just needs to be set on the right path to get there.
Lost: SS Dariel Lopez (No. 14)
Top 30 replacement: SS/3B Jhonny Severino (No. 30)
After losing Lopez, the lone ranked prospect selected in the Minor League portion of the Draft, Severino moved into the club's Top 30 list. The 19-year-old infielder slashed .268/.333/.391 with a 98 wRC+ in his first taste of the Dominican Summer League, and was making his United States debut in the Arizona Complex League as an 18-year-old when he was traded to the Pirates in the Carlos Santana deal close to the Trade Deadline. Initially signed as a shortstop, Severino began his pro career there, but started playing third base in 2023 and that is expected to be his long-term defensive home.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
Lost: 3B Deyvison De Los Santos (No. 5)
Top 30 replacement: Ricardo Yan (No. 21)
With no experience above Double-A, De Los Santos may be one of players most likely to head back to his former club. Projectable 6-foot-4 right-hander Yan entered the club's top 30 after the 21-year-old finished tied for third in the organization with 138 strikeouts over 103 2/3 innings and led Arizona Minor Leaguers (min. 100 IP) with a 31.9 percent K rate between Single-A Visalia and High-A Hillsboro in 2023.
Added: RHP Stephen Kolek (No. 26)
Kolek joins the Padres as their No. 26 prospect. The 6-foot-3 right-hander mixes between his fastball and sinker, which are both in the 94-96 mph range. He also has an above-average slider and a changeup that he uses to change speeds. Kolek led pitchers with a 60-inning minimum in the Pacific Coast League with a 57.5 groundball rate in 2023. He has the potential to stick in the Majors as a reliever.
Added: RHP Anthony Molina (No. 22)
Molina didn’t serve as a full-time starting pitcher until this past season. In 122 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, the Venezuela native fanned 102 batters and posted a 4.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. Molina slots in as the No. 22 prospect in the Rockies system and will most likely start as a multi-inning reliever due to his experience in multiple roles in the Minors.