Sleeper prospects added to 40-man rosters

November 22nd, 2021

Teams had until 6 p.m. ET Friday to finalize their protection decisions in advance of the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. Players had to be added to 40-man rosters after four pro seasons if they signed at age 19 or older, or after five pro seasons if they turned pro at age 18 or younger. If not, another club can draft them for $100,000 with the stipulation they remain on a big league roster throughout the following year.

Fourteen Top 100 Prospects, headlined by Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez (No. 2), required protection and all joined 40-man rosters. The 30 teams placed 111 players on their rosters, including 81 ranked on MLB Pipeline's organization Top 30 lists. Among the 30 unranked prospects, these are the most intriguing (listed alphabetically):

Felix Bautista, RHP, Orioles
Bautista may not always know where they're going, but he can blow away hitters with a fastball that sits at 96-97 mph and peaks at 100 and a power 82-84 mph breaking ball with depth. Originally signed by the Marlins for $18,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, he logged a 1.54 ERA with a .126 opponent average and a 77/30 K/BB ratio in 46 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.

Hagen Danner, RHP, Blue Jays
A two-way star in the Little League World Series and for the U.S. junior national team, Danner signed for $1.5 million as a second-round pick out of a California high school in 2017 and spent his first three pro seasons as a catcher. This year, he moved to the mound -- where more teams preferred him as an amateur -- and dominated High-A hitters with a mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider. He posted a 2.02 ERA, .171 opponent average and 42/12 K/BB ratio in 35 2/3 innings.

Calvin Faucher, RHP, Rays
Part of the Nelson Cruz trade with the Twins in July, Faucher did a much better job of throwing strikes with his mid-90s fastball and pair of high-spin breaking balls after changing organizations, cutting his ERA from 7.04 to 1.44 and his walk rate from 7.0 to 2.5 per nine innings. The 2017 10th-rounder from UC Irvine struck out 72 in 55 2/3 innings at Double-A and Triple-A.

Maikel Garcia, SS, Royals
One of just four unranked position players protected, Garcia has a nice array of tools with his impressive bat-to-ball skills, plus speed and arm strength and solid defense. Signed for $30,000 out of Venezuela in 2016, he still needs to add strength after batting .291/.380/.405 with 35 steals in 104 games between Low-A and High-A.

Michael Grove, RHP, Dodgers
Grove signed for an over-slot $1,229,500 as a second-rounder out of West Virginia in 2018, when he missed the entire college season while recuperating from Tommy John surgery. Though he owns a 7.12 ERA in two pro seasons, the Dodgers are encouraged because his fastball parked at 96-98 mph toward the end of his year and his hard slider and curveball were sharper as well.

Ray Kerr, LHP, Mariners
Kerr may be the best story on this list. Signed for $5,000 as an undrafted free agent from Lassen (Calif.) JC in 2017, he has blossomed into a lefty reliever with a fastball that reaches 100 mph and a low-80s slider that can be a wipeout pitch. He recorded a 3.18 ERA with a .184 opponent average and 60/16 K/BB ratio in 39 2/3 innings at Double-A and Triple-A.

Steven Kwan, OF, Guardians
The Guardians made Kwan a fifth-round pick out of Oregon State in 2018 because of his contact-hitting skills, solid speed, ability to play all three outfield spots and high baseball IQ. He boosted his prospect stock this year by displaying increased power, hitting .328/.407/.527 with 12 homers in 77 games between Double-A and Triple-A after slugging .388 in his first two pro seasons.

Ron Marinaccio, RHP, Yankees
With consecutive picks in 2017, the Yankees took Garrett Whitlock in the 18th round and Marinaccio out of Delaware in the 19th. While Whitlock was a rookie sensation with the Red Sox this year, Marinaccio broke out in the Minors with a 2.04 ERA, .153 opponent average and 105/27 K/BB ratio in 66 1/3 innings at Double-A and Triple-A. His fastball has jumped to sitting at 94 mph and touching 97, setting up a quality low-80s changeup with fade and sink.

James Marinan, RHP, Reds
Drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round from a Florida high school in 2017 and sent to the Reds in a deal for Dylan Floro a year later, Marinan lacks consistency but showed some of the best stuff among starters in the Arizona Fall League over the last six weeks. Armed with a 94-97 mph fastball, a low-80s slider that grades as plus when it's on and the makings of an average changeup, he logged a 4.31 ERA with a .208 opponent average and 63 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings between Low-A and High-A.

William Woods, RHP, Braves
Woods has had trouble staying healthy since turning pro as a 23rd-rounder out of Dyersburg State (Tenn.) CC in 2018 but helped himself with a strong showing in the AFL, where he displayed a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider. The 21 innings he threw in Arizona nearly doubled the 10 2/3 he worked during the regular season, when he dealt with forearm tightness.