2023 Rule 5 Draft: Complete results, analysis

December 7th, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Yankees arms were on the move on Wednesday afternoon at the Winter Meetings and, no, it wasn’t part of a return for Juan Soto.

Three Yankees Minor League pitchers were taken among the 10 players selected in the Major League phase of the 2023 Rule 5 Draft. That included the top two selections when the A’s took right-hander and the Royals nabbed fellow righty . was the third Yankees hurler to get taken when the Rangers selected him with the tenth and final pick of the Major League phase.

Spence was a very durable starter in Triple-A in 2023, totaling 163 innings. While his stuff is largely average across the board, he does have a full repertoire and throws strikes. He leans heavily on his cutter and has shown an ability to miss bats with his sweeper.

“We were looking for pitching,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “We’re going to let him come in as a starter. He threw 160-plus innings last year in Triple-A. He’ll come in as a starter and we’ll give him an opportunity to make the team that way. It’s a four-pitch mix. Cutter works against lefties. There’s two good breaking balls. We think it’s a repertoire that has a chance to translate in the big leagues.”

A year ago, the A’s got Ryan Noda in the Rule 5 and he played nearly every day, so Spence should get a similar opportunity to make a big impact.

"Anybody who is building a roster has to look at all avenues,” Forst said. “Whether you’re a playoff team or not, all 26 spots are critical. This has been an avenue where we’ve found some everyday players. The last few that have been successful have been position players, but pitching is a need. Everyone is out there looking for starting pitching. If we have a chance to grab someone this way, we have to take advantage of it.”

Here are the pick-by-pick results from the 2023 Rule 5 Draft, with the organization players are selected from and their prior and current ranks on club Top 30 prospect lists in parentheses:

Major League phase

A's (39) -- RHP Mitch Spence (prev. UR for NYY, now OAK No. 23)
Royals (39) -- RHP Matt Sauer (prev. NYY No. 25, now KC No. 22)
Rockies (39) -- RHP Anthony Molina (prev. UR for TB, now COL No. 22)
White Sox (39) -- LHP Shane Drohan (prev. BOS No. 19, now CWS No. 19)
Nationals (38) -- SS Nasim Nuñez (prev. MIA No. 16, now WSH No. 23)
Cardinals (39) -- RHP Ryan Fernandez (prev. UR for BOS, now STL No. 26)
Mets (34) -- RHP Justin Slaten (TEX) (Traded to BOS for LHP Ryan Ammons, now BOS No. 25)
Guardians (39) -- 3B Deyvison De Los Santos (was AZ No. 5, now CLE No. 12)
Padres (31) -- RHP Stephen Kolek (prev. UR for SEA, now SD No. 24)
Rangers (35) -- RHP Carson Coleman (NYY)

Sauer was an over-slot signing by the Yankees out of high school in the 2017 Draft and he’s battled injuries for much of his pro career. He has missed a ton of bats when he’s been on the mound and got a feel for relief pitching in the Arizona Fall League. His fastball-slider combination could be effective out of the Royals bullpen in 2024, though Kansas City isn’t ruling him out in a rotation spot.

"There were a handful of arms we liked,” said Royals GM J.J. Picollo, who added they got several good looks at him during his AFL stint. “The difference between him and the other guys is we liked his ability to potentially start long-term. There's some similarities in what we liked about Brad Keller when we selected him a few years ago. Physical guy, good fastball, good breaking ball, strikeout numbers are good.

“When you're trying to break ties and splitting hairs, that was the difference between picking some of the other guys. Our scouting department did a great job, because all the names we talked about were selected. But he was one at the top of our list."

The Red Sox also lost multiple arms, with the White Sox taking lefty with the No. 4 pick and the Cardinals selecting right-hander two picks later.

There were only two position players taken among the 10. Marlins shortstop was taken by the Nationals at No. 5 and the Guardians selected D-backs infielder at No. 8. Nuñez is an elite defender who could have some value as a utility type up the middle with easily plus speed.

“A young player with some elite tools,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. “Good scouting reports on him, we’ve seen him a lot, we did a lot of work on the makeup and the attitude and that type of thing. Terrific defensively, he plays elite-level shortstop, arm range, hands, he can play anywhere in the middle of the field and big time base stealer. We think that there’s some upside with the bat. The bat’s far behind the defense, but a guy that we think has more bat in there.”

A team must have room on its 40-man roster to make a pick. Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, but if that player doesn't stay on the active Major League roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.

This year’s crop for the Major League phase was particularly thin, largely because the 2020 Draft was shortened to only five rounds because of the pandemic. College players from that year’s Draft were eligible for this year’s Rule 5 if they weren’t put on a 40-man roster and there were simply far fewer because of the truncated Draft. The 10 players taken is the smallest amount in the phase since 2013, when only nine were selected.

The Minor League phase was much more active, with a total of 63 players taken. There were some recognizable names, like 2018 first-round pick , who has big league time, and lefty , taken No. 38 overall in 2019. It costs $24,000 to make a Minor League phase selection (anyone not protected on a big league or Triple-A roster is eligible). Players selected in this portion of the Rule 5 Draft aren't subject to any roster restrictions with their new organizations.

Minor League phase

Round 1
Royals -- OF Joe Gray (MIL)
Rockies -- RHP Brendan Hardy (NYM)
White Sox -- RHP Jose Ramirez (BOS)
Nationals -- RHP Samuel Vasquez (CLE)
Cardinals -- INF Johnfrank Salazar (BOS)
Angels -- 1B Eric Wagaman (NYY)
Mets -- C Donovan Antonia (CIN)
Pirates -- RHP Fineas Del Bonta-Smith (COL)
Guardians -- RHP Ty Brown (HOU)
Tigers -- RHP Nick Starr (TEX)
Red Sox -- C Michael Gasper (NYY)
Giants -- RHP Nick Garcia (COL)
Reds -- LHP TJ Sikkema (KC)
Padres -- SS Clay Dungan (KC)
Yankees -- RHP Gabriel Barbosa (COL)
Cubs -- 2B Hayden Cantrelle (SF)
Marlins -- OF Yeral Martinez (NYM)
D-backs -- RHP Darlin Pinales (LAD)
Twins -- LHP Rafael Marcano (PHI)
Blue Jays -- OF Alexis Hernandez (BOS)
Phillies -- C William Simoneit (OAK)
Astros -- RHP Railin Perez (BOS)
Rays -- RHP Michael Gomez (NYY)
Orioles -- RHP Nelvis Ochoa (COL)
Braves -- LHP Tyler Thomas (NYM)

Round 2
Royals -- LHP Keylan Killgore (PHI)
Rockies -- RHP Thomas Ponticelli (CLE)
Nationals -- RHP Wander Arias (KC)
Cardinals -- SS Miguel Villarroel (TEX)
Angels -- RHP Ryan Miller (BOS)
Mets -- RHP Alan Perdomo (COL)
Pirates -- 1B Seth Beer (AZ)
Guardians -- RHP Connor Gillispie (BAL)
Tigers -- RHP Calvin Coker (OAK)
Giants -- SS Dariel Lopez (prev. PIT No. 14, UR on SF Top 30)
Reds -- LF Alexander Ovalles (TB)
Padres -- LHP Omar Cruz (PIT)
Yankees -- RHP Kervin Castro (HOU)
Marlins -- OF Marty Costes (HOU)
D-backs -- 2B Andy Weber (CHC)
Twins -- C Rafael Escalante (PIT)
Phillies -- C Luis Caicuto (AZ)
Astros -- RHP Carlos Betancourt (PHI)
Rays -- RHP Roelmy Garcia (PIT)

Round 3
Royals -- 2B Ryan Fitzgerald (BOS)
Nationals -- RHP Daison Acosta (NYM)
Cardinals -- RHP Benito Garcia (NYM)
Pirates -- 3B Marcos Cabrera (NYY)
Guardians -- LHP John Doxakis (TB)
Reds -- SS Levi Jordan (CHC)
Marlins -- 3B Sean Roby (SF)
D-backs -- RHP John Matthews (TEX)
Twins -- INF Angel Del Rosario (TOR)
Phillies -- C Carson Taylor (LAD)
Rays -- RHP Blake Brown (PHI)

Round 4
Nationals -- CF Moises Gallardo (OAK)
Pirates -- CF PJ Hilson (SF)
Reds -- RHP Brock Bell (BOS)
Marlins -- LHP Adam Laskey (CHC)
Twins -- RHP Sheldon Reed (CHC)
Phillies -- SS Trevor Schwecke (TOR)

Round 5
Marlins -- RHP Julio Dilone (SEA)
Phillies -- 1B Bryce Ball (CLE)