Several young players in the Phillies farm system need to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft by Tuesday
The Phillies entered this offseason with some major questions regarding the 25 and 40-man rosters, and their first big moves will come soon with the Rule 5 Draft deadline approaching.
Major League Baseball clubs must protect prospects eligible for the Rule 5 Draft by Tuesday, Nov. 20.
Jonathan Mayo laid out who is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft earlier this week on MLB.com.
"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 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons."
Who in the Phillies organization could this effect? Luckily, only one Phillies prospect in the top-100 on MLB Pipeline’s ranking is eligible for Rule 5 Draft selection, pitcher Adonis Medina.
Overall the Phillies have five prospects in their top-30 ranking eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they are not played on the 40-man roster.
Mayo listed each player and where they stand on the organization’s top-30 list.
3. Adonis Medina, RHP
12. Daniel Brito, SS
11. Arquimedes Gamboa, SS
16. Jose Gomez, SS
27. Tom Eshelman, RHP
If the Phillies don’t protect those five players they could be drafted by another team. The catch is, whoever takes one of those players must keep him on their major league roster throughout the 2019 season. If they can’t do so, then that player will be offered back to the Phillies.
The trick with protecting players is deciphering whether or not another team would take a chance on them. If a player is still several years away from being a productive major league player, then another team likely won’t waste a Rule 5 pick and $100,000 on that player.
Because Medina is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, it’s likely Philadelphia will add him to the 40-man roster despite him being a couple years away from the big leagues.
The other four prospects eligible present tough decisions. Neither Brito, Gamboa, nor Gomez have ever played higher than Advanced-A or are older than 21. Each is far from making a major league impact, though their value in the organization is extremely high.
Would another team take a chance on any of those three players and try to develop them in the major leagues? That’s the brain game the Phillies have to play over the next 72 hours.
A player who would likely be taken in the Rule 5 Draft if left unprotected is Thomas Eshelman, a right-handed pitcher acquired in the Ken Giles trade with Houston. The 46th-overall pick in 2015, Eshelman went from knocking on the major leagues to taking a gigantic step back.
After having a career-year with Reading and Lehigh Valley in 2017 with a 2.82 ERA in 23 starts, three of which he threw a complete game, Eshelman owned a 6.73 ERA in 27 games for the Iron Pigs in 2018.
Philadelphia has a ton of pitching depth for the back of their rotation, and the question is whether Eshelman is better than any of those guys. He’s likely not better than Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, Zach Eflin, Enyel De Los Santos, or Ranger Suarez. If that’s the case and the Phillies enter spring training with two or three rotation spots open, then is Eshelman worth saving?
Of the five prospects eligible for the Rule 5 Draft I believe Philadelphia will only protect two players, three at max. Don’t be surprised if Eshelman is left available and taken by a team like Cincinnati looking for a diamond in the rough for their rotation.