Major League Baseball conducted its annual Rule 5 Draft on Thursday. Because of the pandemic, this year's edition was held at a distance, with teams calling in their picks. In all, 18 players were selected during the draft's big-league phase, the most since 2017.
Below, you'll find the official results along with analysis on each player selected. First, though, here's a reminder as to how the Rule 5 works:
Players who signed at 18 or younger and have played at least five professional seasons are eligible, as are players who signed at 19 or older and have played at least four professional seasons. All players who are on a 40-man roster are ineligible for the draft -- hence top prospects being added well ahead of their debuts.
Teams pay $100,000 per selection to the player's old team, and then must keep that player on the 25-man roster for the duration of the season. If the team decides against keeping the player on the active roster all year, then the player must be sent to the waiver-wire. Should they pass through unclaimed, they then must be offered back to their old team for $50,000. (There's also a minor-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, but we're not going to concern ourselves with that.)
Now, onto the good stuff.
1. Pirates: Jose Soriano, RHP (from Angels)
Soriano underwent Tommy John surgery last February. The missed season and elbow scar didn't repel the Pirates, who may even view it as a perk: the more time he misses because of his rehab, the less time they have to keep him on the active roster. When healthy, he has a hot fastball and a promising breaking ball that could play up in relief. Soriano's woeful command (more than five walks per nine innings as a professional) limits his ceiling.
2. Rangers: Brett de Geus, RHP (from Dodgers)
The Dodgers have to pick their poison when it comes to the Rule 5 Draft, as they have too many talented players to protect them all. Predictably, they did not escape this year's event unscathed. De Geus is an interesting relief prospect whose velocity improved when he moved to the bullpen on a permanent basis in his first full pro season. He has a pair of usable secondary offerings (a cutter and a curveball) and he walked just five percent of the batters he faced in 2019, suggesting he has a real chance of sticking on the active roster for the entirety of next season.
3. Tigers: Akil Baddoo, OF (from Twins)
Minnesota left Baddoo, their second-round pick in the 2016 draft, exposed because of his seemingly slim chances of sticking on an active roster for a whole year. After all, he's played in just 29 regular-season games since the start of 2019 because of the pandemic and Tommy John surgery. Baddoo has good raw strength and speed, but his lack of experience against upper-level pitching will make it tough for the Tigers to keep him around as more than a deep reserve.
Whitlock, who had Tommy John surgery in July 2019, had helium coming into the draft process. He's a well-built right-hander who has already achieved success at the Double-A level, and who should be able to stick in relief behind his fastball-slider pairing. If the Red Sox can work with Whitlock to develop his changeup, he could turn into a back-end starter over the long haul.
This one goes out to the trivia buffs: Sceroler's uncle is former big-league pitcher Ben McDonald, who, of course, spent seven seasons with the Orioles back in the '90s. Sceroler has a starter's frame and a loose arm, and he enjoyed some success at High-A in 2019, amassing a 3.69 ERA and a 4.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 117 innings pitched.
6. Diamondbacks (traded to Marlins): Zach Pop, RHP (from Orioles)
Pop is yet another member of this class to undergo Tommy John surgery. He earned his zipper in May 2019, suggesting he should be ready to roll once it's springtime. Pop is a pure reliever who pumps high-grade sinkers from a sidearm slot. He's made 22 career appearances in Double-A, and he would seem to be a good candidate to stick.
7. Rockies: Jordan Sheffield, RHP (from Dodgers)
There's no questioning Sheffield's stuff; there is questioning just about everything else with his game, including his durability and his command. The Dodgers had Sheffield pitch almost exclusively out of the bullpen in 2019, and yet he still walked more than seven batters per nine innings during an extended stay at Double-A. The odds are very much against him sticking.
8. Angels: Jose Alberto Rivera, RHP (from Astros)
Rivera has one of the most interesting arms in the class. He's been used throughout his professional career in a multi-inning capacity, suggesting he should be able to serve as a true long reliever for the Angels. His fastball (which can touch triple digits) and his splitter are good enough to envision him becoming a seventh-inning type in due time. Still, it's unclear if a hopeful contender, like the Angels, will be able to roster Rivera for the entirety of a season.
9. Mets (traded to Pirates): Luis Oviedo, RHP (from Cleveland)
Oviedo went unpicked in last winter's Rule 5 Draft despite entering the 2019 season on prospecting radars. (He was considered a plausible No. 4 starter.) The main reason for Oviedo's slippage was lost velocity. He appears to be throwing hard again based on his work in winter ball, and so the Pirates tasked the Mets with taking him for them. His chances of sticking in Pittsburgh are anyone's guess, as it would be difficult to carry him and Soriano for a year.
Vest can be summed up as a Trackman pick. He's a short right-hander with a deceptive delivery and a carrying fastball. He appeared at three levels during the 2019 season, and he later had a stint in the Arizona Fall League. The Mariners, who traded half their bullpen to the Padres at the deadline, will presumably give him a real chance to make the Opening Day roster.
11. Phillies: Kyle Holder, SS (from Yankees)
Holder, the 30th pick in the 2015 draft, is a quality fielder who has enough arm for the left side. He's not much of a hitter, though, suggesting his ceiling is that of a spare infielder.
12. Giants: Dedniel Nunez, RHP (from Mets)
Nunez missed the second half of the 2019 season because of a shoulder injury. That doesn't much matter at this point, obviously, and the Giants took him on the strength of his high-spin fastball. The rest of Nunez's arsenal isn't particularly impressive, meaning San Francisco will have to hope that he can work some one-pitch magic if he's to stick around.
13. Marlins: Paul Campbell, RHP (from Rays)
Campbell is a legitimate back-end starter prospect thanks to an arsenal full of average or better offerings. His strikeout numbers have never matched his impressive spin rates, and he dealt with a forearm issue earlier in the year. The Marlins should provide him with a chance to stick in their bullpen for the time being, with an eye on moving back to the rotation in 2022.
14. Cubs: Gray Fenter, RHP (from Orioles)
Fenter is a small, if physical right-hander with an above-average fastball-breaking ball combination. He's never pitched at a level higher than Class-A and he's issued a few too many walks for anyone's comfort. The rebuilding Cubs will likely use Fenter in relief this season; there is a chance, though a slim one, that they could end up getting a back-end starter out of this pick.
15. Cleveland: Trevor Stephan, RHP (from Yankees)
Stephan might be the one pitcher in the class who can benefit the most from moving to a new organization. Cleveland is likely to throw him in the bullpen (something the Yankees had resisted doing), where his high-spin fastball and sweeping slider can play against big-league hitters. Stephan's starting past could make him an interesting multi-inning candidate, too.
All Tom has done as a professional is hit. In 2019, he posted a .290/.380/.532 slash line between Double- and Triple-A. Alas, Tom isn't going to offer that much power in the majors (he's listed at 5-foot-9) and he isn't considered a good athlete. He deserves the opportunity to see if scouts are just wrong about his ability to.
17. Orioles: Tyler Wells, RHP (from Twins)
Yet another Tommy John surgery recipient, Wells hasn't pitched in a regular-season contest since 2018. The Orioles ostensibly like how his height (6-foot-8) and high-three-quarters arm slot give him an extreme release point, thereby allowing his fringe-to-average stuff to play better than it should on paper.
18. Athletics: Dany Jimenez, RHP (from Blue Jays)
Jimenez was selected in last year's Rule 5 Draft by the Giants. He made a pair of big-league appearances with San Francisco before being returned in early August. He has an above-average fastball-slider combination, but it seems unlikely that he sticks on a contender's roster.