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Angels protect pair from Rule 5 Draft, but not Cowart

MLB.com @Alden_Gonzalez

ANAHEIM -- The Angels added catcher Jett Bandy and right-hander Dan Reynolds to the 40-man roster on Thursday, protecting both from exposure in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. To make room on the roster, the club designated catcher Jackson Williams and lefty Michael Roth for assignment.

That means third baseman Kaleb Cowart, the former No. 1 pick who has seen his stock plummet after back-to-back rough seasons in Double-A, has been left unprotected and can be plucked from the organization in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 11.

ANAHEIM -- The Angels added catcher Jett Bandy and right-hander Dan Reynolds to the 40-man roster on Thursday, protecting both from exposure in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. To make room on the roster, the club designated catcher Jackson Williams and lefty Michael Roth for assignment.

That means third baseman Kaleb Cowart, the former No. 1 pick who has seen his stock plummet after back-to-back rough seasons in Double-A, has been left unprotected and can be plucked from the organization in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 11.

Cowart -- taken out of high school with the 18th-overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft -- was considered one of the top prospects in baseball after scorching through both of the Angels' Class A levels in 2012. Then he batted .221/.279/.301 in Double-A in 2013 and .223/.295/.324 in 2014, scrapping switch-hitting along the way and raising questions about whether he should transition to a pitcher.

The Angels still think highly of Cowart, 22, who has the tools to be a Major League third baseman -- but they're rolling the dice that another team won't take a chance on him.

"We're going to continue to exercise patience in his development," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said of Cowart, who was ranked the organization's No. 5 prospect in the most recent MLB.com rankings. "At this point, we could not commit a 40-man roster spot and take a chance that we would lose another player that's capable at the Major League level right now, until we know more about where Kaleb is."

Bandy, 24, batted .250/.348/.413 in 93 games for Double-A Arkansas this past season, but threw out 40 percent of would-be basestealers and is expected to compete for a job as the backup catcher now that Hank Conger is with the Astros.

Reynolds, 23, went from a struggling starter to a successful relief pitcher in 2014, posting a 2.90 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and a strikeout rate of 9.1 in 42 appearances in Class A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A.

Roth, who has made 22 Major League appearances since being drafted in the ninth round in 2012, has been DFA'd for the second time this year. The first time was in late April, when he slipped through waivers and eventually finished up a solid season in Double-A, posting a 2.62 ERA in 22 starts. But Roth has a 7.79 ERA in 32 1/3 innings in the Majors.

Williams, 28, was selected off waivers from the Rockies on Oct. 22 after appearing in seven Major League games and batting .256/.353/.368 in 72 Triple-A games this past season.

If a player was 18 years old or younger during the First-Year Player Draft that resulted in him signing his first professional contract and five seasons have passed, or 19 or older the day of the Draft and four seasons have passed, he can be selected in the Rule 5 Draft if he's not on his team's 40-man roster.

Teams had until 9 p.m. PT on Thursday to add Rule 5 Draft-eligible players to the roster to protect them. Other notable Angels prospects left unprotected include outfielders Matt Long and Drew Heid, right-handers Austin Wood and Daniel Hurtado, and shortstop Erick Salcedo.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Los Angeles Angels