Royals protect 3 prospects ahead of Rule 5
RHPs Staumont, Hernandez, Blewett added to 40-man roster
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals added right-handers Josh Staumont, Arnaldo Hernandez and Scott Blewett to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday night's deadline to protect players who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft at next month's Winter Meetings.
The 40-man roster now is full, though it is expected the Royals will clear a space or two so they can make selections in the Rule 5 Draft. Last year, the Royals landed right-hander Brad Keller, who emerged as one of the top rookie pitchers in baseball, in the Rule 5 Draft.
The addition of Staumont, Hernandez and Blewett to the roster came as little surprise, as all three could easily have been stashed in another team's bullpen in 2019 -- Rule 5 picks must remain with the team that selects them for an entire season or be returned to their former club.
Two big names that were not added who are eligible were left-hander Foster Griffin and first baseman Frank Schwindel.
Griffin, the Royals' first-round pick in 2014 (28th overall), had a 5.13 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in 28 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas last season, and likely is a year or two away from the Major Leagues. Griffin, 23, is the team's No. 29 prospect, per MLB Pipeline.
Schwindel, 26, hit .286 with an .842 OPS, 24 home runs and 38 doubles last season at Triple-A Omaha. Schwindel, however, was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft last season and went unpicked, which is not uncommon for first basemen. He is expected to compete for a spot on the 25-man roster next spring.
Staumont, 24, the Royals' No. 11 prospect, had a 3.51 ERA in 41 games, mostly in relief, at Triple-A in 2018. Staumont, who possesses a 100-mph fastball, struck out 103 batters in 74 1/3 innings and is considered a strong candidate for the Royals' bullpen next season.
Blewett, 22, the Royals' No. 26 prospect, was 8-6 with a 4.79 ERA at Double-A. He dazzled in the Arizona Fall League, going 4-0 with a 2.49 ERA, and the club believes he may have turned a corner.
Hernandez, 22, shot through the Royals' system in 2018, starting at Class A Advanced Wilmington before getting promoted to Northwest Arkansas and then finally Omaha, where he went 5-1 with a 3.55 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
On a side note, right-hander Elvis Luciano, acquired as part of the Jonathan Jay trade with the D-backs last June, actually is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, though he is only 18. Club officials explained it's because of a technicality involving his contract -- his original contract with Arizona was voided after he failed his physical at age 16, and the D-backs re-signed him to another contract with a lesser bonus, but subsequently he became eligible for each Rule 5 Draft after that.