Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Rule 5 Protection Picks

The Rule 5 Draft takes place on December 11 this year, but even though it's still a month away the deadline to add a player to the 40-man roster to protect him from the draft is on November 20. The Twins have already added Armando Gabino to the 40-man, and while that does protect him from the Rule 5 draft that move was made early to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent. This post ranks the top players who I would protect if I were the Twins, and throws out a list of a few more players who could be added as well. With just 31 players on the 40-man roster, the Twins have the room at add 5-6 guys to the roster while still leaving spots open for a few free agent acquisitions. Here's my list:

1.) Luke Hughes - 3B
Despite being just 24, Hughes has actually been Rule 5 eligible for a few years now, having been originally signed by the Twins out of Australia back in 2002. He's had a few good years and a few bad years since starting his playing career in the organization in 2003, but 2007 and 2008 were both very solid, and he's now moved up to Rochester, where he can be expected to play next year. With the Twins third base situation far from settled, and with Hughes recent success, I'd add him to the 40-man roster in a heartbeat. I'd be surprised if the Twins took a chance and left him unprotected this year.

2.) Brian Duensing - LHP
The first of two lefties drafted in the 3rd round of 2005 who I expect to see protected by the Twins this year. Duensing didn't have a great 2008 in Rochester, posting a 4.28 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Still, he's been an effective starter everywhere he's pitched in the minor leagues, and will be entering his second full season in AAA in 2009. As an effective lefty starter at the AAA level, I'd guess Duensing would be drafted if left unprotected. I expect him to soon be on the 40-man roster.

3.) Ryan Mullins - LHP
Duensing will likely be joined by fellow 2005 3rd round pick Ryan Mullins. Unlike Duensing, Mullins spent the 2008 season in AA New Britain -- but like Duensing he had a bit of an off-year, posting a 4.31 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 148.1 innings. I still expect him to be a high profile commodity on the Rule 5 market if not added to the 40-man roster. Since I'm a fan of lefty starters, and since I think Mullins has a high upside, I'd add him to the roster.

4.) Steven Tolleson - 2B/SS
Tolleson was a 5th round selection in 2005, and has hit pretty well while healthy. He had a nice 2008 season in New Britain, with a .300 average and 848 OPS. He's bolstered his odds by playing well in the Arizona Fall League. He's probably above Mullins on the Twins list, but he's right behind him on my list. Either way, I expect the Twins will add him, as would I.

5.) Wilson Ramos - C
This one is tricky for two reasons -- first, while I believe he's rule 5 eligible this year, I don't know that for sure. He was signed as a 16-year-old in 2004, which makes this year's rule 5 draft the fifth since he signed with the Twins. That should make him eligible, but there may be some unusual rules with international signings that I haven't taken into consideration. Second, he's a bit on the unseasoned side to protect by placing him on the roster; he hasn't played above High A ball. Most team's also couldn't afford to hold a young (he's 21), untested catcher on the roster for a full season, as would be required if he were drafted. Still, he's got a lot of potential, and there might be a fear that he could be taken if he's in fact eligible. I could see either decision being justified, but I'd probably add him to be on the safe side. That would give him three option years to develop into a big league caliber player (after which he could either backup Mauer or be in a position to replace him if Mauer had departed by a free agent by then). It'll be interesting to see what the Twins do with him.

6.) Anthony Swarzak - RHP
Swarzak had a bizarre year, pitching very poorly in New Britain (5.67 ERA/1.60 WHIP in 101.2 innings) before being promoted to Rochester and pitching very well (1.80 ERA/1.22 WHIP in 45 innings). Swarzak has been extremely solid since being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft as a high schooler, so I expect that his poor performance in New Britain will largely be discounted and that he's still a highly-valued prospect in the organization. He'd probably be the final player I protected if I were running things, and I expect he'll also make the Twins list.

Other Possibilities
Here are the other names who are Rule 5 eligible (I think) that I could see potentially being protected by the Twins. There are a variety of reasons they wouldn't make my cut, from performance issues to inexperience (and therefore not being likely targets). They are in no particular order:

Drew Butera - C
Trevor Plouffe - SS
Matthew Fox - RHP
Zach Ward - RHP
Tim Lahey - RHP
David Winfree - 1B/OF
Brock Peterson - 1B
Alejandro Machado - SS
Deibinson Romero - 3B
Erik Lis - OF
Yohan Pino - RHP
Jay Rainville - RHP

We'll find out what the Twins decide to do in the next week or so.

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  • At Tue Nov 11, 10:32:00 PM , Anonymous SethSpeaks said...

    I'd flip-flop Ryan Mullins and Trevor Plouffe. I think Plouffe is an easy choice, and Mullins is rather reminiscent of Errol Simonitsch for me to be too interested in him.

  • At Tue Nov 11, 10:41:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Fair enough -- as I said, I have a weakness for lefty starters. As for Plouffe, I like him but to this point he hasn't quite shown enough for me. You're probably right that he'll be added, and that's probably the right call since there's a decent chance he'd be taken.

  • At Wed Nov 12, 11:33:00 AM , Anonymous Marty said...

    Plouffe is the most underrated prospect in the Twins system. He should be on your list.

  • At Wed Nov 12, 11:51:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    I'm being ganged-up on by Plouffe lovers! As I conceded to Seth, Marty, I think Plouffe will be added, and I probably should have put him on my original list.


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