30 intriguing Rule 5 Draft options -- 1 for each team

November 30th, 2023

Two weeks ago, all 30 teams made decisions on which prospects to protect on their 40-man rosters. Trades can obviously be made to take up, or free up, space so teams can decide how active they want to be in this year's Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, taking place on Dec. 6 at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.

While all clubs hope they made the right choices on who to protect, there are undoubtedly future big leaguers who are available, and will be selected, in this year's Rule 5. Last year, teams selected 14 players in the Major League phase, and eight of those players saw big league time in 2023. Every team has at least one intriguing option the other 29 organizations might consider selecting, and we've picked one potential selection for each team below.


Blue Jays: CJ Van Eyk, RHP (unranked on Blue Jays Top 30)
Taken in the second round of the 2020 Draft out of Florida State, Van Eyk missed the entire 2022 season due to Tommy John surgery, and further complications limited him to 34 2/3 innings during the regular season. He made up for some of the lost time in the Arizona Fall League, and while that wasn't enough to get him a 40-man spot with Toronto, it was notable he posted a 2.51 ERA and .196 opponent average with 14 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings in the hitter-friendly circuit. Armed with a 92-94 mph heater, newfound sinker and full slate of offspeed pitches, Van Eyk could generate some interest now that he's healthy.

Orioles: Hudson Haskin, OF (No. 17)
Haskin has shown glimpses of his power-speed combination since the Orioles took him in the second round of the 2020 Draft out of Tulane, but he's had trouble staying healthy. He managed to play only 33 games in 2023 because of a hamstring injury and then a hip impingement that required surgery. His plus speed and ability to play all three outfield spots could have value to other teams.

Rays: Kameron Misner, OF (No. 21)
Teams are often looking out for fourth or fifth outfielders in Rule 5, and the 25-year-old Misner could move into the role almost seamlessly. He's a plus runner with three straight 20-plus-steal seasons, has the range and arm for all three spots on the grass and displays above-average pop (21 homers at Triple-A Durham in 2023). That said, the left-handed slugger did strike out 35.8 percent of the time at the Minors' top level and batted just .140 with a .543 OPS against fellow southpaws -- two big pills Rule 5 clubs would have to swallow.

Red Sox: Angel Bastardo, RHP (No. 16)
Bastardo doesn't have overwhelming stuff but misses a lot of bats with a 93-95 mph fastball that touches 97 with run and sink and a mid-80s changeup with similar life. Signed for $35,000 out of Venezuela in 2018, he posted a 4.68 ERA, .221 opponent average and 149 strikeouts in 119 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A.

Yankees: Matt Sauer, RHP (No. 25)
Injuries have sidetracked Sauer since he signed for $2,497,500 as a 2017 second-round pick from a California high school, as he had Tommy John surgery in 2019 and missed two months with a forearm strain this season. When healthy, he logged a 3.42 ERA, .196 opponent average and 83 strikeouts in 68 1/3 Double-A innings thanks to a riding 93-95 mph fastball and a tight mid-80s slider.


Guardians: Tanner Burns, RHP (No. 19)
A 2020 supplemental first-rounder from Auburn who was expected to move quickly, Burns has battled his control the last two seasons in Double-A but still compiled a 3.01 ERA, .217 opponent average and 86 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings there this summer. Moved to the bullpen in August, he features a low-90s fastball with impressive carry and a mid-80s slider/cutter.

Royals: Devin Mann, INF (No. 27)
The most interesting name might be 2020 fourth overall pick Asa Lacy, who has managed only 80 innings in pro ball (including none in 2023) because of various injuries. The more likely to be picked is Mann, who was acquired from the Dodgers in a Deadline deal for Ryan Yarbrough. The 26-year-old has the potential for an average hit tool and average power after hitting .276/.387/.502 with 20 homers in Triple-A last season. He played first, second, third and left and could latch on as a utilityman.

Tigers: Roberto Campos, OF (No. 22)
Campos doesn't turn 21 until next June and still hasn't played above High-A -- two facts that almost assure he won't be a Rule 5 pick next week -- but weirder picks have been made in this process. The Cuba native projects as a right fielder with above-average power and arm strength who could also play some center. Time remains on Campos' side despite the non-40-man add, but he'd be a super-long-term play by any club considering him in the Major League portion.

Twins: DaShawn Keirsey, OF (unranked)
While Keirsey is a bit older (26), he’s had some success at the upper levels. He’s always had a ton of speed, stealing 42 bases in 2022 and 39 more last year. He started driving the ball a bit more in 2023, finishing with a .294/.366/.455 line between Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul. His speed and ability to defend at all three outfield spots alone could warrant a look, with the improved impact from the left side of the plate making him even more intriguing.

White Sox: Wilfred Veras, OF (No. 21)
Part of a baseball family that includes big leaguers Wilton Veras (father), Fernando Tatis Sr. (uncle) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (cousin), Veras has become one of the more promising young hitters in the White Sox system since turning pro for $200,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2019. He batted .286/.324/.466 with 17 homers and 24 steals in 130 games between High-A and Double-A.


Angels: Adrian Placencia, 2B/SS (No. 10)
This is more of a long shot since Placencia is just 20 and touched Double-A for the first time (and didn't hit there). He's shown the ability to steal a base and hit for a little power (double-digit homers last two seasons), and he can fill in at both middle infield positions if needed.

Astros: Justin Dirden, OF (No. 14)
Coming off a monster 2022 season in Double-A, Dirden seemed poised to help the Astros in 2023 but hit just .231/.314/.396 with 10 homers in 84 Triple-A games while dealing with a hamstring injury. A non-drafted free agent signed for $20,000 out of Southeast Missouri State, he has some deceptive athleticism and can play all three outfield spots.

A's: J.T. Ginn, RHP (No. 18)
Want to roll the dice on pretty good stuff that comes with some serious injury risk? Ginn has a Tommy John surgery in his past and has also dealt with forearm tightness and, most recently, bicep tendinitis, that has limited him to just 69 innings over the last two seasons combined. His sinker-slider combination could be effective in a bullpen, where his innings could be managed.

Mariners: Alberto Rodriguez, OF (No. 17)
Rodriguez has shown glimpses of offensive potential since the Mariners obtained him from the Blue Jays at the 2020 Trade Deadline, and he's coming off his best season at the plate, posting a .300/.380/.504 line between High-A and Double-A. He's a bit limited defensively, but he's a left-handed bat with some upside who could play both outfield corners and at DH.

Rangers: Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa, RHP (unranked on Rangers Top 30)
Hoopii-Tuionetoa impressed in the Arizona Fall League, not allowing a run in nine regular-season appearances while working with a 94-99 mph fastball and a hard slider. A 30th-round pick out of Pierce (Wash.) CC in 2019, he missed the first half of this season with non-structural shoulder issues before recording a 2.96 ERA, .204 opponent average and 25/7 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings between Rookie ball and two Class A stops.


Braves: Tyler Owens, RHP (No. 26)
The Braves went over slot to sign Owens out of high school back in 2019, and after shaking off an injury-riddled 2021 season, he's shown some bat-missing ability in both starting and relief roles, reaching Double-A for the first time. He has the kind of power repertoire, with a fastball that touches 98 mph and a hard slider, that could be intriguing coming out of a big league bullpen full-time.

Marlins: Nasim Nuñez, SS/2B (No. 16)
Nuñez's toolset is one of extremes, as he's an elite defender with well above-average speed and arm strength but also a below-average hitter with zero power. The 2019 second-rounder from a Georgia high school won Futures Game MVP honors in July and batted .224/.341/.286 with a Double-A Southern League-best 52 steals.

Mets: Coleman Crow, RHP (No. 29)
New York acquired the 22-year-old right-hander from the Angels in the Eduardo Escobar deal, but he's yet to pitch for any Mets affiliate after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the summer. That rehab process likely left him off the 40-man for now, but a Rule 5 club that liked Crow -- a four-pitch starter whose best pitch is his slider -- could draft and stash the hurler with a more likely goal to stick in 2025.

Nationals: Kevin Made, SS (No. 15)
In trading Jeimer Candelario to the Cubs last summer, the Nats picked up Rule 5-eligible prospects DJ Herz and Made as a return. Herz was protected on the 40-man. Made wasn't. Major questions about the impact of Made's bat -- he hit just .137/.232/.192 over 83 High-A plate appearances after the deal – led to this decision, but the 21-year-old is also a potential plus defensive shortstop who also boasts above-average speed. Those skills could play, but Made has at least a year-plus to prove he can hit in the Minors before he gets a real sniff in the bigs.

Phillies: Carlos De La Cruz, OF/1B (No. 6)
De La Cruz is a huge specimen, at 6-foot-8, and surprisingly athletic. He can play all three outfield spots, as well as first base, which could give a team options to get his developing power bat into the lineup should he get taken. He hit 24 homers in 2023, though he took advantage of the friendly confines at Reading, and there could be more to come, albeit with some swing-and-miss.


Brewers: Freddy Zamora, SS (No. 26)
Zamora rebounded from a left shoulder injury that limited him to only 24 games in 2022 to hold his own back with Double-A Biloxi in 2023, hitting .255/.352/.361 with a 97 wRC+ over 108 games this summer. His best skills have always been on the defensive side, and he got plenty of looks at short and second with the Shuckers -- versatility that could only help his Rule 5 case for potential clubs looking for help on the dirt.

Cardinals: Ian Bedell, RHP (No. 16)
The 2020 fourth-rounder underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021, missed much of 2022 and then impressed at High-A Peoria in 2023, posting a 2.44 ERA with 106 strikeouts in 96 innings. His lack of upper-level experience caused the Cards to shy away from the 40-man, but he can touch the upper-90s with good fastball life up in the zone, showcase a good curveball and generally keep the walks in check. There's room to grow for the 24-year-old the farther he gets from TJ.

Cubs: Pablo Aliendo, C (No. 27)
Though Aliendo doesn't have a high offensive ceiling, he's a quality defender who could help a team in a reserve role behind the plate. Signed for $200,000 out of Venezuela in 2018, he batted .231/.332/.458 with a career-high 16 homers in 91 games in Double-A.

Pirates: Matt Gorski, OF (No. 20)
There's power and speed here, and it showed up during a breakout 20-20 season in 2022. But he's also had trouble staying healthy, including a hamstring issue limiting him a bit in 2023. And while he turned in another 20-20 year, his approach suffered (116/33 K/BB ratio). His athleticism allows him to cover a lot of ground in the outfield, and he can handle all three spots, along with playing some first base to add to his versatility.

Reds: Tyler Callihan, 2B (unranked on Reds Top 30)
At one point, Callihan was a top 10 prospect in the Reds' system after the club went way over slot to sign him for $1.5 million in the fourth round of the 2019 Draft. At that time, he was thought to be one of the best pure prep hitters in the Draft class. Tommy John surgery disrupted his 2021 season, so his 2023 was really his first fully healthy campaign. And it was a mixed bag, though the fact that he had a .310/.396/.460 line in 22 Double-A games from the left side of the plate could intrigue some teams.


D-backs: Deyvison De Los Santos, 3B/1B (No. 5)
The highest-ranked prospect left unprotected this year, De Los Santos struggled mightily in his age-20 season at Double-A Amarillo, hitting .206/.269/.308 in 63 games before being sent back to Arizona to work on his swing. He hit .313/.333/.573 with 13 homers in 51 games after his return, giving hope that he could be back on a path toward meeting his power-first ceiling as a regular corner infielder. While it's tempting to roll the dice on his plus-plus raw pop, Rule 5 clubs would have to be sure that his adjustments (which also included being super aggressive) were real.

Dodgers: Jose Ramos, OF (No. 19)
Ramos still needs more polish at the plate but offers well above-average raw power and arm strength, not to mention average speed and the instincts to handle all three outfield positions. A $30,000 sign out of Panama in 2018, he hit .240/.333/.409 with 19 homers in 113 Double-A games.

Giants: R.J. Dabovich, RHP (unranked on Giants Top 30)
Dabovich is enticing as a reliever with a 93-99 mph fastball with a flat approach angle and a mid-80s curveball with power and depth, both of which can be plus-plus offerings at their best. But the 2020 fourth-rounder from Arizona State made just four Triple-A appearances this season because of an impingement in his right hip that required surgery.

Padres: Brandon Valenzuela, C (No. 9)
Valenzuela draws solid reviews for his receiving and throwing abilities from behind the plate, and the Rule 5 Draft can be an avenue to find a backup backstop. But the 23-year-old struggled offensively (.181/.287/.255) after a midseason jump to Double-A San Antonio last season and didn't play after Aug. 8 because of right knee surgery. Like the Padres, Rule 5 clubs may want to see Valenzuela return first before thrusting him into The Show.

Rockies: Aaron Schunk, 3B/2B (No. 27)
The Georgia product was a second-rounder in 2019, and he's had an uneven climb up the organizational radar. But he has a full year in Triple-A under his belt, where he hit .290/.350/.461. That wasn't just because of playing home games at hitter-friendly Albuquerque, as he hit on the road as well, so teams could be intrigued with his advanced bat and ability to play two infield spots.