There have been a number of reasons floated out by the Royals with regard to why they have chosen to not call up the Minor League Player of the Year, Wil Myers. There is the Frenchy factor, the idea that Myers is not ready defensively, his strikeout rate is too high and the simple fact of service time and finances. With the exception of Francoeur, all the reasons have some (even a lot) of validity.
While I don't believe it to be an overriding factor, the idea of using up a 40 man roster spot on Myers (especially for just a September cup of coffee) certainly has come into the organization's thinking. Dayton Moore has made several references to the large number of minor league players that will be eligible in this winter's Rule 5 Draft and the club's desire to protect as many as they can. Wil Myers will not be eligible for the Rule 5 until after the 2013 season and he almost certainly will be on the 40 man long before then.
Real quick, a player who was signed at age eighteen is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after spending five years in an organization. A players signed at nineteen or older is eligible after spending four years in the organization. It sticks in my head that there are some subtle nuances to this calculation based upon the signing date, but could not find anything definitive on the issue.
Obviously, any organization has quite a number of players who are eligible each year, but many are of no interest to another team as they would have to be kept on the 25 man major league roster for all of the following season. Frankly, there are a large number of eligible players that an organization could really care less if they lost or not. No offense to Kurt Mertins, but if someone wanted to pick him in the Rule 5, Dayton Moore is not going to lose any sleep. You can always find another Mertins, but you cannot always find an Odorizzi.
Therein lies the topic (finally). Who do the Royals want to protect?
Well, Jake Odorizzi is number one on the list. The 22 year old right hander had a heck of a shot to break camp with the Royals in 2013 and certainly will be on the 40 man roster well before the Rule 5 Draft. He heads up a pretty long list of pitchers who will certainly be given consideration, but first let's get through the much shorter position player list.
I don't think there is anyone in the minors that swings a bat AND is eligible for the Rule 5 that will give any of us a great deal of angst. The idea of losing 28 year old Mario Lisson or 26 year old Paulo Orlando is not exactly terrifying. Would 22 year old catcher Julio Rodriguez (part of the Wilson Betemit trade) catch anyone's eye? Doubtful. More likely - although not all that likely - is the likes of Rey Navarro or Anthony Seratelli getting nabbed.
Navarro, who is still just 22 years old, was a one time prospect who came over in exchange for Carlos Rosa (and yes, I had angst over that deal). Rey has hit 257/316/333 between AA and AAA this year, which is right on his minor league career marks. He comes with the reputation of a good fielder at either short or second and has played a little third.
Seratelli is a great story: a 29 year old who started out in independent ball and has gradually worked his way up to AAA where he has hit 299/374/492 and played everywhere but center and catcher. Yet, he is 29 and the Royals already have Irving Falu and Tony Abreu. With roster spots at a premium, neither Navarro or Seratelli gets one.
Okay, back to pitchers. After Odorizzi you have a sizable list, headed by two big names: Mike Montgomery and Chris Dwyer. Both have had poor years, but both still carry a good deal of upside. Would a deep team or one with no hope (Houston) take a flyer on one of these guys? Maybe you are discouraged enough to not care if they do. Do you gamble that other organizations view these two as so damaged that they do not need protection?
Of course, as we all know, the Rule 5 is most often a hunting ground for relievers. In this category the Royals have plenty:
- Buddy Baumann. The former Missouri State product is averaging a strikeout per inning in AA, but also is walking five batters per nine innings.
- Ryan Dennick. A lefty who has 72 strikeouts in 74 innings this year, but has been tagged for nine home runs and a 4.62 ERA.
- Blaine Hardy. Another lefty with a 3.07 ERA in 364 minor league innings (most at AA and AAA), with a K rate of 7.8/9 and a walk rate of 3.0/9.
- Donnie Joseph. Acquired as part of the Broxton deal, the lefthander has a career minor league strikeout rate of 11.9, but has struggled to throw strikes in Omaha (6.8 BB/9).
- Patrick Keating. A 25 year old righty with a career strikeout rate of 11.4, who has been in AA for most of the last three seasons.
- Brendan Lafferty. A 26 year old lefty with a high strikeout rate and a high walk rate.
- Bryan Paukovits. Stands 6'7" and weighs 240 pounds. That has to count for something.
- Leondy Perez. He has thrown 450 minor league innings and is still just 23. Has decent numbers in Wilmington this year.
- Sam Runion. The 2007 2nd round pick was a spectacular failure as a starter, but as a reliever in High A and AA, Sam has allowed just one homer in 65 innings with a 6.9 strikeout rate and a 2.2 walk rate. Still only 23 years old.
- Brandon Sisk. He is lefthanded, a plus. He is 27 years old, a negative. In 2011, Sisk dominated in 32 AAA innings and has been quite good again in 2012. In 68 innings for Omaha, Brandon has a 9.8 strikeout rate and has allowed just 7.9 hits per 9 innings. Sisk is walking 4.3 batter per nine and has allowed 8 home runs. Unprotected, I think Sisk gets taken by someone.
There are some other starter types who are eligible as well. Ethan Hollingsworth, Tim Melville and Elisaul Pimentel have not done anything particularly spectacular, but they are 'names'. Sugar Ray Marimon was outstanding in Wilmington, not so much in AA, but at 23 years old he has some appeal. Justin Marks, a 24 year old lefty, had a disastrous one start in AAA, but 17 pretty good ones in AA. One would think this group would not have appeal to a major league team given either their performance or their distance from the majors, but they probably at least get discussed, however briefly.
Assuming I did not screw up the eligibility of some of the above (it's possible, I admit), that is a lot of names to consider. Youcan see why Dayton Moore is concerned enough about the Rule 5 to already be factoring his in season roster moves around it.