Scouting the Rule 5 Draft picks

December 16th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Part of an inexpensive but promising Yankees 2015 international class that includes more highly touted prospects such as Deivi Garcia and Luis Medina, fellow right-hander Rony Garcia started to come into his own in 2019, his fourth professional season. But New York annually has trouble finding enough 40-man roster spots to protect intriguing Minor Leaguers, so it left him unprotected in November.

Coming off a 114-loss season that landed them the No. 1 overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft, the Tigers pounced on Thursday. They selected Garcia with that choice, adding a potential rotation candidate as they continue to rebuild in 2020. Garcia split last season between Class A Advanced and Double-A, posting a 4.01 ERA with 129 strikeouts and 45 walks in 130 1/3 innings.

In order to hold onto Garcia, Detroit must keep him on its active big league roster throughout the 2020 season. Before the Tigers can send him to the Minors, they'll have to pass him through waivers and then offer him back to the Yankees for half of his $100,000 Rule 5 Draft price. Injured Rule 5 choices may be placed on the disabled list but still face the same restrictions with Minor League assignments until they've spent 90 days on the active big league roster.

Below are scouting reports for the 11 players selected in the Major League phase of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft:

1. Rony Garcia, RHP, Tigers (from Yankees)

Garcia raised his prospect profile by boosting his stuff in 2019. He now operates with a 91-95 mph fastball that touches 97, an improved low-80s slider that shows flashes of becoming a solid pitch, a new cutter and an effective changeup. He throws strikes but must continue to refine his command in order to succeed as a starter.

2. Brandon Bailey, RHP, Orioles (from Astros)

Bailey is reunited with Baltimore general manager Mike Elias, who was with the Astros when they acquired him from the Athletics for Ramón Laureano in November 2017. A 2016 sixth-rounder out of Gonzaga, he has high spin rates on his low-90s fastball, a solid changeup and a pair of decent breaking balls. Bailey projects as a reliever because of his size (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) and the effort in his delivery. He recorded a 3.30 ERA with 103 strikeouts and 41 walks in 92 2/3 Double-A innings last season.

3. Sterling Sharp, RHP, Marlins (from Nationals)

A 22nd-round choice out of NCAA Division II Drury (Mo.) in 2016, Sharp generates some of the best ground-ball rates in the Minors with a heavy low-90s sinker and a quality changeup. He missed time with an oblique injury in 2019 but logged a 3.53 ERA, 65 percent grounder rate and 52 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings between three levels. Sharp then pitched well in the Arizona Fall League.

4. Stephen Woods, RHP, Royals (from Rays)

The highest pick ever out of New York-Albany (eighth round, Giants, 2016), Woods went to the Rays in the December 2017 Evan Longoria trade. Bouncing back from shoulder surgery that cost him the 2018 season, Woods showed a mid-90s fastball and solid curveball while posting a 1.88 ERA with 79 strikeouts and 33 walks in 86 1/3 Class A Advanced innings this year.

5. Yohan Ramirez, RHP, Mariners (from Astros)

Signed at the end of the 2015-16 international period for $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic, Ramirez is a classic live-armed Rule 5 choice who can run his fastball up to 99 mph and back it up with a power curveball. He's still learning how to harness his stuff, recording a 3.99 ERA, .172 opponent batting average and 158 strikeouts in 106 innings between Class A Advanced and Double-A in 2019 -- albeit with 74 walks.

6. Mark Payton, OF, Reds (from Athletics)

A 2014 Yankees seventh-round pick out of the University of Texas, Payton went to the A's in the Minor League phase of last year's Rule 5 Draft before batting .334/.400/.653 with 30 homers in the extremely hitter-friendly environment at Triple-A Las Vegas. He has a track record of hitting for average but never showed that kind of power previously, and his decent speed and below-average arm contribute to difficulties profiling him as a regular.

7. Dany Jimenez, RHP, Giants (from Blue Jays)

Jimenez generated a lot of buzz as the Rule 5 Draft approached, and the Giants were surprised and pleased that he lasted until they could grab him. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, he had an outstanding 2019 season as a reliever -- 2.59 ERA, 93 strikeouts, 21 walks in 59 innings between Class A Advanced and Double-A. He also might have enough stuff to start, with a lively fastball that climbs into the upper 90s, a hard slider and an improving changeup, though that would be a stretch in the big leagues in 2020.

8. Vimael Machin, INF, Athletics (from Cubs via trade with Phillies)

A 10th-round pick from Virginia Commonwealth in 2015, Machin is a line-drive hitter from the left side of the plate who has seen time at all nine positions during his pro career. More utility man than regular, he batted .295/.390/.412 with more walks (69) than strikeouts (62) last season, mostly in Double-A.

9. Trevor Megill, RHP, Cubs (from Padres)

Megill pitched at three levels in 2019, rising to Triple-A while logging a 3.86 ERA, 87 strikeouts and 22 walks in 60 2/3 innings. His 6-foot-8 frame creates a tough downhill angle, and the 2015 seventh-rounder from Loyola Marymount works with a 92-96 mph fastball, 82-86 mph slider and downer curveball.

10. Jonathan Arauz, INF, Red Sox (from Astros)

The Phillies signed Arauz for $600,000, the largest bonus given to a Panamanian in the 2014 international class, before trading him to the Astros a year later in the seven-player Ken Giles/Vince Velasquez deal. A versatile switch-hitter with a line-drive approach, average speed and solid arm, he batted .249/.319/.388 with 11 homers between Class A Advanced and Double-A last season.

11. Michael Rucker, RHP, Orioles (from Cubs)

A 2016 11th-rounder from Brigham Young, Rucker moved to the bullpen this year and posted a 4.18 ERA with 93 strikeouts and 25 walks in 79 2/3 innings, mostly in Double-A. His 91-96 mph fastball, curveball and changeup are all about average, so he relies heavily on control and command.