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10 intriguing players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

The annual Winter Meetings, set to begin on Dec. 10 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., this year, are often hard to predict. One year is insanely busy with trades and signings, another might be relatively quiet. One thing that is a constant, however, is that the Rule 5 Draft will help wrap up the Meetings on Thursday morning.

MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2017 Winter Meetings from the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Fans can catch a live stream of the Rule 5 Draft on MLB.com on Thursday, Dec. 14, at 9 a.m. ET.

The annual Winter Meetings, set to begin on Dec. 10 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., this year, are often hard to predict. One year is insanely busy with trades and signings, another might be relatively quiet. One thing that is a constant, however, is that the Rule 5 Draft will help wrap up the Meetings on Thursday morning.

MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2017 Winter Meetings from the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Fans can catch a live stream of the Rule 5 Draft on MLB.com on Thursday, Dec. 14, at 9 a.m. ET.

Rule 5 Draft order

Teams made decisions on who to protect on their 40-man roster by Nov. 20. Now scouting departments are scouring the eligible list to determine if anyone is worthy of a Rule 5 Draft selection.

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 Draft 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.

For this year, that means an international or high school Draft pick signed in 2013 -- assuming he was 18 or younger as of June 5 of that year -- has to be protected. A college player taken in the 2014 Draft is in the same position.

There are nine first-round picks from the 2013 Draft -- including three of the first seven players selected -- and another two from the '14 Draft available in this year's Rule 5 Draft.

2013 first-rounders available:
1. Mark Appel, RHP, Phillies
4. Kohl Stewart, RHP, Twins
7. Trey Ball, LHP, Red Sox
12. D.J. Peterson, 3B, Reds
20. Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Reds
21. Nick Ciuffo, C, Rays
26. Eric Jagielo, 1B, Reds
28. Rob Kaminsky, LHP, Indians
30. Travis Demeritte, 2B, Braves

2014 first-rounders available:
11. Max Pentecost, C, Blue Jays
19. Nick Howard, RHP, Reds

Many who were up for protection are on team Top 30 Prospects lists, 153 to be exact. There were 85 who were added to rosters, thus protecting them. Any of the remaining 68 could hear their names called on Dec. 14 and get a chance to stick on a 25-man roster.

There were 18 players taken in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft a year ago, and 10 of them saw time in the big leagues with the teams that drafted them or traded for them immediately following the draft. Another three made it up after they were sent back to their original teams. Five of those 18 players were on team Top 30 Prospects lists at the time they were selected.

This year's Rule 5 Draft is likely to be no different in terms of uncovering Major League contributors. There's still a lot of time for teams to figure out who will go in the Major League phase of the Draft, but there certainly are some intriguing names on the eligibles list. Mostly using that list of 68 Top 30 Prospects, here is an alphabetical list of 10 interesting players who are eligible to be selected:

Mark Appel, RHP, Phillies: The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 Draft was just designated for assignment and no one claimed him, so seeing him go in the Rule 5 Draft might be a long shot, but stranger things have happened. He battled injury in 2017, but a team could try to catch lightning in a bottle.

Video: Jonathan Mayo on Phillies designating Mark Appel

Nick Ciuffo, C, Rays' No. 25: The No. 21 overall pick in the 2013 Draft hasn't hit as hoped, with a .248/.292/.334 career line, but Ciuffo has thrown out 46 percent of would-be basestealers, and teams often look for backup catching help via the Rule 5 Draft.

Michael De Leon, SS, Rangers' No. 28: On one hand, De Leon is just 20 and played in Double-A in 2017. On the other, he put up a .223/.257/.284 line. That said, he's a skilled defender who could be called upon to play multiple positions.

Video: Top Prospects: Michael De Leon, SS/2B, Rangers

Travis Demeritte, 2B/3B, Braves' No. 12: Taken at the end of the first round of the 2013 Draft by the Rangers, Demeritte was sent to the Braves close to the 2016 Trade Deadline. His move to Double-A in 2017 was up and down, but while there is swing-and-miss, there also is power plus the ability to play second and third.

Video: Top Prospects: Travis Demeritte, 2B, Braves

Tyler Eppler, RHP, Pirates' No. 26: The 6-foot-6 right-hander may not fit the profile of a typical Rule 5 Draft pick because of a lack of power stuff, but he's been very durable and while his move to Triple-A was rocky, he has logged a lot of upper-level innings and could be the type to get a chance to stick as a No. 5 starter.

Jordan Guerrero, LHP, White Sox's No. 21: After a subpar 2016, Guerrero was left unprotected, but wasn't taken. His return to Double-A in 2017 was better, though he faded a bit down the stretch. Lefties are often popular come Rule 5 Draft time, and while Guerrero has proven to be a solid starter, he could get a look for a bullpen role.

Gavin LaValley, 1B, Reds' No. 20: The Reds have long thought LaValley would develop into a strong all-around hitter and he did have a bit of a breakout in 2017 in the Florida State League, earning a promotion to Double-A. He finished with a career-high 18 home runs in the process.

Video: Top Prospects: Gavin LaValley, 3B/1B, Reds

Ryan O'Hearn, 1B, Royals' No. 14: Teams looking for left-handed power off the bench might give O'Hearn a shot, as he's hit 20-plus home runs in each of his first full three seasons. He's largely a first baseman only, though he's seen time in the outfield corners and a team could move him around (along with DHing him).

Video: Top Prospects: Ryan O'Hearn, 1B/OF, Royals

Max Pentecost, C/1B, Blue Jays' No. 8: The No. 11 overall pick in the 2014 Draft out of Kennesaw State, Pentecost missed the entire 2015 season following shoulder surgery. He didn't return to catching until this past season, then put his wares on his display for all 30 teams in the Arizona Fall League, when shoulder pain resurfaced and he was shut down early. He still has some hitting ability and power from the right side of the plate.

Video: Top Prospects: Max Pentecost, C/1B, Blue Jays

Kohl Stewart, RHP, Twins' No. 9: Stewart went three picks after Appel, No. 4 overall, in that 2013 Draft, and while the Twins knew it would take some time for him to develop after being a two-sport star in high school, it hasn't come together as hoped. That said, despite missing time with a knee injury in 2017, he did pitch at the upper levels and teams might be interested in his ground-ball rate (1.72 GO/AO in his career).

Video: Top Prospects: Kohl Stewart, RHP, Twins

Here's a list of all 30 teams' Top 30 prospects who are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft:

Arizona Diamondbacks (3)
12. Brad Keller, RHP
19. Victor Reyes, OF
26. Jose Almonte, RHP

Atlanta Braves (2)
13. Travis Demeritte, 2B/3B
15. Dustin Peterson, OF

Baltimore Orioles (2)
19. Randolph Gassaway, OF
29. John Means, LHP

Boston Red Sox (4)
24. Jake Cosart, RHP
25. Kyle Martin, RHP
28. Hildemaro Requena, RHP
30. Jhonathan Diaz, LHP

Chicago Cubs (5)
9. Trevor Clifton, RHP
16. Chesny Young, 2B/SS/OF
22. Charcer Burks, OF
26. Erling Moreno, RHP
29. Jose Paulino, LHP

Chicago White Sox (2)
21. Jordan Guerrero, LHP
29. Luis Martinez, RHP

Cincinnati Reds (3)
20, Gavin LaValley, 1B
26. Nick Longhi, 1B/OF
28. Michael Beltre, OF

Colorado Rockies (3)
15. Dom Nunez, C
21. James Farris, RHP
24. Harrison Musgrave, LHP

Detroit Tigers (2)
21. Jose Azocar, OF
26. Adam Ravenelle, RHP

Houston Astros (1)
16. Jason Martin, OF

Kansas City Royals (2)
14. Ryan O'Hearn, 1B
19. Marten Gasparini, OF

Los Angeles Angels (2)
27. Osmer Morales, RHP
30. Damien Magnifico, RHP

Miami Marlins (5)
10. Jeff Brigham, RHP
23. Ricardo Cespedes, OF
24. Isael Soto, OF
26. John Norwood, OF
27. Austin Dean, OF

Minnesota Twins (4)
9. Kohl Stewart, RHP
10. Lewin Diaz, 1B
23. Jake Reed, RHP
28. Nick Burdi, RHP

New York Mets (4)
12. Wuilmer Becerra, OF
15. Jhoan Urena, 3B
17. Luis Carpio, SS
20. Ali Sanchez, C

Oakland A's (1)
26. Casey Meisner, RHP

Philadelphia Phillies (2)
16. Jose Gomez, INF
23. Carlos Tocci, OF

Pittsburgh Pirates (3)
19. Yeudy Garcia, RHP
26. Tyler Eppler, RHP
30. Adrian Valerio, SS

San Francisco Giants (3)
20. Sam Coonrod, RHP
21. Jordan Johnson, RHP
24. Kelvin Beltre, 2B

Seattle Mariners (5)
12. Luis Liberato, OF
13. Anthony Jimenez, OF
14. Greifer Andrade, OF
22. Ian Miller, OF
28. Chuck Taylor, OF

Tampa Bay Rays (1)
25. Nick Cuiffo, C

Texas Rangers (1)
28. Michael De Leon, SS

Toronto Blue Jays (5)
8. Max Pentecost, C/1B
19. Jordan Romano, RHP
23. Francisco Rios, RHP
24. Patrick Murphy, RHP
30. Angel Perdomo, LHP

Washington Nationals (3)
18. Drew Ward, 3B
23. Taylor Gushue, C
26. Osvaldo Abreu, SS/2B

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.