Twins protect 4 players from Rule 5 Draft

November 16th, 2022

The Twins selected the contracts of right-handed pitcher , infielder , right-hander and left-hander Brent Headrick on Tuesday ahead of the 5 p.m. CT deadline to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 Draft, filling up the remaining spots on their 40-man roster.

Canterino, the organization's No. 9 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has posted a 1.48 ERA across three Minor League seasons while most recently reaching Double-A, though he underwent Tommy John surgery in August and will be unavailable for much of the 2023 season. Julien, ranked No. 14, is coming off a .400/.563/.686 performance in 21 games in the Arizona Fall League, where he was named the league's Breakout Player of the Year.

Legumina (No. 26) and Headrick will be 25 by Opening Day and both finished the season with Double-A Wichita.

The Twins' most prominent unprotected prospect is outfielder Misael Urbina, ranked No. 8 in the organization, who doesn't appear likely to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft since the 20-year-old has yet to play above Single-A and posted a .742 OPS for the Twins' Fort Myers affiliate last season.

This could have been a much busier Rule 5 deadline for the Twins, but they resolved the futures of many of those players earlier in their tumultuous 2022 campaign. Top prospects Matt Wallner (No. 5), Simeon Woods Richardson (No. 6) and Louie Varland (No. 10) would have been Rule 5 eligible this winter, but they all debuted during the regular season due to the Twins' rash of injuries.

The Twins also dealt infielder Spencer Steer, who would otherwise have been eligible, to the Reds at the Trade Deadline as part of the return for Tyler Mahle.

Canterino was the Twins' second-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and has showcased electric raw stuff at every level, racking up 130 strikeouts in 85 innings. That innings count is the catch, though, as he's been held to 37 or fewer innings in each of his three professional seasons due to injuries, culminating in the Tommy John surgery last summer.

It's likely that the 24-year-old right-hander would soon have entered the Twins' bullpen picture if he hadn't been sidelined by the elbow troubles, and his upside and relative readiness for the Majors would have made him an appealing Rule 5 pickup, even if it would have required an initial rehab period.

Julien, meanwhile, will very much be on the Twins' radar for 2023 after he led the AFL in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS (1.249) and walks (23), while finishing top three in hits (28) and home runs (five). He has always had elite plate discipline, leading the Minors in walks from 2021-22 by a wide margin, and he has continued to couple that with better aggression and power to damage hittable pitches.

The 2019 18th-round pick's performance has carried across each level for a career .283/.437/.485 line in the Minors, with an appealing combination of power (35 homers), baserunning (53 steals) and eye for the zone (208 walks). He has no clear defensive home and split time between second base and designated hitter in '22, but if the bat continues to play in Triple-A, he could be a big leaguer sooner rather than later -- especially now that he's on the 40-man roster.

Legumina and Headrick were the Twins' eighth-round and ninth-round selections, respectively, in 2019, and headlined a group of solidly performing pitchers who remained on the fringes of the top 30. Legumina struggled as a starter to begin the season, but found his best form as a reliever, holding opponents scoreless in 11 of his 12 final appearances of the season.

Headrick continued to excel with his command as he posted a 3.32 ERA, 136 strikeouts and 25 walks in 108 1/3 innings combined between High-A Cedar Rapids and Double-A Wichita, finishing second among all Twins prospects in strikeouts and innings pitched.