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Royals Rule 5 draft: names to know

The Royals have some decisions to make

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball is the only sport with two drafts in the same year. There of course is the Rule Four draft held every June, a draft that has slowly become more and more popular. Six months later though, MLB holds a second, much unsexier draft: the Rule Five draft. The draft rules are pretty simple and you can find a list of common questions here.

What's less simple though is finding out who exactly is eligible for the upcoming draft. Unlike the Rule Four draft that gets covered extensively from ESPN, MLB Network, FanGraphs, Scout, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and just about every other baseball outlet, the Rule Five draft happens and about two-thirds of the baseball universe of fans don't even know about it.

So what you'll find below is a list of guys eligible for the Rule Five draft, the best I can decipher. Maybe I'm missing someone here and that's kind of the dilemma. This likely isn't an exhaustive list. It's a manual list of guys anywhere from A Ball to AAA.

One thing to remember here is that most if not all these guys are likely to go undrafted. Mainly because a team must keep these players on their 25-man active roster for the whole season. It's easier to hid a pitcher on your 25-man and use him as a bullpen piece than it is to hide a hitter.

I'm probably missing somebody, or I have somebody listed who isn't eligible. If so let me know in the comments.


Name Age Lev
Buddy Baumann 27 AAA
Andy Ferguson 26 AAA
Micah Gibbs 26 AAA
Benino Pruneda 26 AA
Reid Redman 26 AA
Scott Alexander* 25 AAA
Malcom Culver 25 AA
Brian Flynn* ON 40 MAN 25 AAA
Matt Murray 25 AAA
Aroni Nina 25 AA
J.C. Sulbaran 25 AAA
Ali Williams 25 AA
Mark Peterson 24 AA
Brooks Pounders 24 AA
Sam Selman* 24 AA
Robinson Yambati 24 AAA
Bryan Brickhouse 23 Rk
Yender Caramo 23 A+
Alec Mills 23 A+
Matthew Strahm* 23 A+A
Kyle Zimmer 23 AAA
Christian Binford 22 AAA
Igol Feliz 22 Rk
Ashton Goudeau 22 A+
Jake Junis 22 AA
Reinaldo Cepin* 21 Rk
Pedro Fernandez 21 A+
Cruz Guevara* 21 A
Luis Rico* 21 AA


Name Age Lev
Brett Eibner 26 AAA
Andy Ferguson 26 AAA
Micah Gibbs# 26 AAA
Whit Merrifield 26 AAA
Ethan Chapman* 25 AA
Angel Franco# 25 AAA
Balbino Fuenmayor 25 AAA
Kenny Diekroeger 24 AA
Gabriel Noriega 24 AAA
Joshua Banuelos 23 Rk
Logan Davis* 23 AA
Carlos Garcia# 23 A+
Pedro Gonzalez 23 Rk
Parker Morin* 23 AA
Mauricio Ramos 23 A+
Edward Salcedo 23 AA
Cameron Gallagher 22 A+
Brawlun Gomez 22 Rk
Jack Lopez 22 A+
Santiago Nessy 22 AA
Trey Stover 22 Rk
Dominique Taylor 22 A+
Bubba Starling 22 AA
Ramon Torres# 22 AA
Luis Villegas 22 A+
Humberto Arteaga 21 A+
Jeckson Flores 21 Rk
Angelo Castellano 20 A
Elier Hernandez 20 A+
Luis Lara 20 Rk
Roberto Tovar# 20 Rk
Xavier Fernandez 19 Rk

Like I said...basically all of these guys will go undrafted (primarily the guys below AA). There are at least a few interesting names on that list.

Ramon Torres

The Royals sent Torres to the AFL this October and he did fairly well with a 102 wRC+. Profile wise he's one of the few guys in the organization that fits the Royals design. He doesn't have much power or walk, but he puts the ball in play through high contact. Meanwhile he's defensively competent at several positions.

He's got the ability to play shortstop averagely but has also spent time at second base and third base. It's a utility profile ultimately so a team may take a chance on him if the Royals don't protect him.

Bubba Starling

It's about time that the Royals make a decision on him, huh? Bubba has been heralded then unheralded, and now semi-heralded this past year. The Royals gave him the highest draft bonus of all time for a high schooler and highest bonus for a position player.

He has looked much more comfortable at the plate since last October in the AFL. Of course he had a hot start in Wilmington this year before a promotion to AA. He hit alright in AA (very well compared to his previous results) as he battled a hamstring injury then mono.

He'll certainly be protected as if not there's a decent chance some club would use him as a fourth outfielder just for a shot at his tools.

Kyle Zimmer

The Royals #1 prospect (in my opinion) will be protected too. He of course was injured this year but finally debuted mid-summer and showed his lights out stuff.

I mean come on.

Steamer is somewhat optimistic about Zimmer too as he actually projects to be the Royals third best pitcher:

Yordano Ventura 32 195 8.42 3.2 3.6 3.3
Edinson Volquez 31 185 6.89 3.24 4.26 1.7
Kris Medlen 29 172 6.16 2.44 4.22 1.7
Kyle Zimmer 16 92 7.87 3.24 3.99 1.1
Danny Duffy 28 153 6.91 3.35 4.46 1.1

If you extend that to 200 IP (which isn't happening for Zimmer in 2016) he looks even better:

Yordano Ventura 3.51 8.42 3.20 3.60 3.3
Kyle Zimmer 3.84 7.87 3.24 3.99 2.5
Kris Medlen 4.00 6.16 2.44 4.22 1.9

Brett Eibner

Eibner probably isn't getting protected. He was already passed up last year in the draft in his first year eligible and now he's a year older. Yes, he was better this year in Omaha but that was more of an outlier than his career numbers and tools. He looks the same Eibner to me.

Here I go being a downer again but we have to set this straight: Lorenzo Cain is an anomaly. Most guys who are 25-26 in AAA usually are there for a reason: they can't hit. Eibner hit well this year but he didn't hit well at all last year in the exact same league. Like I said, he's now a year older and for the first time in his career had his first huge season.

I don't know. Maybe he does get protected. Maybe the Royals some team will use him as a fourth outfielder this year. He's got power, is a decent outfielder, with average speed and a strong arm. He's not as toolsy as Bubba Starling but there's some things to like and you could probably do worse for a fourth outfielder.

Brooks Pounders

The Royals sent Pounders to the AFL last month, a process teams often do for players they want to get a final look at before making a roster decision (they did the same with Ali Williams last year - who did not get protected). Pounders did very well. He didn't allow a run, struck out 10 batters in 12 innings, and didn't walk a single batter.

Pounders has had his career stalled with injuries. He had Tommy John a few years back and then a lat injury this past spring. Even then he wasn't too old for AA this year (24). There are some things to like, especially with what he's done this year, and he was a second round pick years ago.

I'm not sure he has the stuff to start perhaps, but he doesn't have killer velocity either (despite his huge size) so a lights out reliever probably isn't happening either. Instead he may carve out a major league career as a middle-relief guy with good command but underwhelming stuff.

Christian Binford

Kinda seems like Binford has been around forever and he has a stop at every level of the Royals system. He reached AAA again this year and got hit very hard before being sent back to AA where he wasn't quite as good previously.

I don't know. I've never been a huge Binford fan myself and I dropped him from ninth in my offseason rankings to fifteenth this July. I can't really see them wasting a 40-man spot on him.

Alec Mills

Mills had Tommy John after his pro debut (a strong one) but has come back and turned himself into a nice pitcher. He's got mid-90's fastball velocity and average or so curveball/changeup. He controls his stuff well too and has above average command.

He's decent enough now that he's more than a reliever though he's only reached A+ and isn't ready for a spot in the majors just yet. I'd certainly take him over his command counterpart Christian Binford.

Sam Selman

It feels like Selman has been around forever too. Selman has two 60 pitches with his high-90's fastball and good slider but the command (control might be the better word here) is anywhere from a 40-50 on one night to a 20 grade. He can throw the ball hard but doesn't always know where it is going.

Balbino Fuenmayor

Ah. The legend himself. 80 grade name, 80 grade results, 40 grade tools. In name only, his profile is excellent but outside of his plus power, there isn't really anything else there. His arm, which actually may be a little better than average, is wasted at first base as he can't play anywhere else.

Fuenmayor had knee surgery unfortunately and is out until April or so. I'm not sure a rival club is going to waste a 25-man spot on a guy making his way back injury.

Matthew Strahm

Strahm is interesting in a similar vein as Mills. Strahm too had Tommy John previously but the velocity is back and his command has taken a step forward since returning.

I like Strahm a bit. He's a lefty with 92-94 MPH velocity and a good changeup. He pitched both lefties and righties well this year (albeit in A+) and at worst I think he could be a decent LOOGY; just not necessarily right now.