CINCINNATI – With the annual Rule 5 Draft looming next month -- when exposed players can be taken by other clubs -- the Reds added four prospects to their 40-man roster on Wednesday to protect them from being selected. The club also made a trade to acquire right-handed pitcher José
CINCINNATI – With the annual Rule 5 Draft looming next month -- when exposed players can be taken by other clubs -- the Reds added four prospects to their 40-man roster on Wednesday to protect them from being selected. The club also made a trade to acquire right-handed pitcher José De León from the Rays in exchange for cash and a player to be named later.
Headlining the list is right-handed pitcher Tony Santillan, ranked No. 4 in the organization by MLB Pipeline, and catcher Tyler Stephenson, who is Cincinnati’s No. 7 prospect. Also protected were right-handed pitchers Ryan Hendrix (No. 28) and Tejay Antone.
The additions gave the Reds a full 40-man roster.
Some of the Reds' Top 30 ranked prospects that were left exposed included: shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez (No. 18) and outfielders Andy Sugilio (No. 19), TJ Friedl (No. 20), Michael Beltre (No. 21) and Mariel Bautista (No. 24).
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.
This year, any drafted or internationally signed player out of high school in 2015 and college players signed in 2016 are eligible for protection.
De León, 27, once ranked as high as Tampa Bay’s No. 2 prospect before he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow and missed the 2018 season. He was limited to four big league innings over three games with the Rays in ’19 and had a 2.25 ERA.
Over 19 games (with 15 starts) at Class A Advanced and Triple-A, De León was 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. Since returning from the elbow surgery, scouting reports show that his velocity has been consistently in the 91-95 mph range and his changeup has been his best secondary pitch.
Santillan, 22, was the organization’s Minor League pitcher of the year in 2018 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 26 starts combined at two levels but did not fare as well in 2019. He was 2-8 with a 4.84 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in 21 starts and 102 1/3 innings for Double-A Chattanooga.
Stephenson, 23, was the 11th overall pick by the Reds in the 2015 Draft and enjoyed his best professional season as a hitter this year. In 89 games for Chattanooga, he batted .285/.372/.410 with six home runs and followed in the Arizona Fall League with a .347/.418/.490 line with seven doubles and six RBIs in 13 games.
Hendrix, 25, was 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA over 20 games – including two starts -- combined with Chattanooga and the AZL Reds. He missed most of the 2019 season with a right elbow strain.
Antone, who turns 26 next month, was 11-12 with a 4.00 ERA in 27 games -- including 26 starts -- over 146 1/3 innings this year for Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville.
The Rule 5 Draft will be held on Dec. 12 during the final day of the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.