Back in my day, you used to be able to find interesting and useful players in the Rule V draft. The best one the Reds ever did was when they got Josh Hamilton before the 2007 season. He went on to make five All-Star Teams and won an MVP (the same year Joey won his!). Johan Santana, Joakim Soria, Shane Victorino, and Dan Uggla were all taken in the Rule V draft before making it solid in the bigs.
Maybe I’m relying too much on my gin-addled memory and not doing even cursory research to find out, but it seems to me that we haven’t seen a real star make the big leagues via the Rule V in quite a while. I’d argue that even the dumbest teams in baseball have now caught on to contemporary player scouting and development techniques, so it’s less and less likely that a potential Cy Young or MVP would be so overlooked as to fall this far through the cracks, but again, gin-addled. Nevertheless, there are still some useful and interesting players available through the Rule V every year, even if they are likely just bench players, bullpenners, and 26th-guy-on-the-roster types. And that last new rule could certainly mean a more robust thoroughgoing in the Rule V.
So let’s take a look at some of the players who might be available to the Reds in the Rule V and how they can help.
The Reds officially have 39 players on their 40-man roster, meaning they have room to add a player in the draft if they see fit. So who’s out there?
Cody Sedlock (RHP) - Baltimore Orioles
Sedlock was drafted by the Orioles in the first round in 2016 as a power-arm righty from the University of Illinois. There hasn’t been a whole lot of good news for him since then. He was okay in his first full season but dealt with some arm injuries that limited his time on the mound. Then he lost nearly the entire 2018 season with a thoracic outlet diagnosis. He put in a mostly healthy season in 2019, throwing about 100 innings of effective baseball, but his big fastball is now a more mortal 90-93 mph offering. Scouting reports say he has really picked up every other bit of pitching though, improving his sequencing, mix, and command.
Thomas Burrows (LHP) - Atlanta Braves
Burrows is one of those plain-looking left-handed relievers who harbors a dark and dangerous secret: his breaking ball. He racks up strikeouts in the double-digits and no dame can penetrate his cold and brooding heart. His K/9 in his four seasons in pro ball is over 11.5 and while he makes lefty hitters look like extras on The Muppet Show, righties ain’t exactly Robert Mitchum against him, either. He’s a classic low ceiling / high floor lefty relief specialist, the kind of player that is likely to benefit most from the new 26-man roster rule.
Brady Aiken (LHP) - Cleveland Indians
You might recognize the name. He was the no. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Astros. They saw some sketchy things in his post-draft physical and offered him less money because of it, so he ended up enrolling at a prep school to wait for the next draft. He threw only a few pitches for that prep team before he announced he was going to have Tommy John surgery.
The Indians took him with the 17th pick in 2015 while his arm was still in a cast. He debuted in 2016 and wasn’t great. He pitched a full season in 2017 and had more walks than strikeouts. His fastball had lost about 10 mph of velocity. He took the entire 2018 season off from competition and spent it working at the Indians facility in Goodyear. He pitched a bit in 2019 before packing a bag and heading to Driveline.
So that’s why he’s on this list.
Jake Robson (OF) - Detroit Tigers
The Reds seem to be actively shopping around for help in the outfield, so maybe this kid could help. His best tool is his speed, which he uses to run fast. He stole 25 bases for the AAA Toledo Mudhens last season and he has plenty of range to handle CF. He has a little bit of power but, more importantly, he knows how to take a walk (.352 OBP last season).
Wander Javier (SS) - Minnesota Twins
This kid signed for $4 million as one of the biggest bonus babies of the ’15-’16 international signing period. He’s had terrible luck staying healthy, though. He lost a whole season to a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder and still hasn’t played an entire healthy season in four years state-side. But if a team thinks all the skills are still there (and it sure looks like they are) and that his injuries aren’t chronic (doesn’t seem like it) he could be a potential target. With the 26th roster spot now available, I could see a team using it to stash raw talent like this kid.
There are plenty of other young players available in the Rule V on Thursday, but they all generally fall into one of the buckets represented by the players above. I’m not in a position to do the insane amount of scouting and research necessary to try to make an informed decision here, I mean, that’s why they pay a whole team of jerks to do that. But I do think that if the Reds take a player in the Rule V, that guy will likely be something like one of the guys above. They’ll just have spent more than a gloomy Monday afternoon looking into it.
For more details on the rules, drools, and regulamalations about the Rule 5 Draft process, check out this handy dandy preview from MLB Pipeline. The Reds hold the 12th overall pick.