Today was the deadline for teams to finalize their 40-man roster to protect players from the Rule 5 draft, which is why there has been a flurry of minor activity from clubs today. The Royals did their part by adding infielder Ramon Torres, outfielders Bubba Starling and Brett Eibner, and pitchers Kyle Zimmer, Matthew Strahm, and Alec Mills to the roster, according to Jeffrey Flanagan. They also designated pitcher Michael Mariot for assignment.
Zimmer and Starling were no-doubters, as they are among the top ten prospects in the entire organization. Zimmer is considered the best pitching prospect in the system, and a Top 100 prospect in baseball. The former first round pick has had an injury-riddled career, and had a 2.39 ERA in 64 innings this year between A Lexington and AA Norhtwest Arkansas. Bubba Starling turned a corner this year, hitting .269/.337/.448 split between A Wilmington and AA Northwest Arkansas. His glove is considered "Major League ready" and some in the organization think he could be in Kansas City some time in 2016.
Brett Eibner was a second-round pick back in 2010 and mashed in spring training with the Royals before injuries derailed him. He had a career-best year with AAA Omaha, hitting .303/.365/.514 with 19 HR 81 RBI. Eibner will be 27 next month and was unprotected for last year's Rule 5 draft, going undrafted.
Ramon Torres is a 22-year old middle infielder who hit .264/.308/.354 between A Wilmington and AA Northwest Arkansas. Torres is a switch-hitter and is fresh off a stint in the Arizona Fall League. Right-hander Alec Mills is a Tommy John surgery survivor who rebounded with an excellent 2015 season highlighted by a 3.02 ERA, 111 strikeouts, and just 14 walks in 113 1/3 innings for A Wilmington. Matthew Strahm is a left-hander who had a 2.59 ERA in 94 innings split between A Lexington and A Wilmington. The 24-year old had 124 strikeouts and allowed just 60 hits.
Among the players unprotected and eligible for the Rule 5 draft are catcher Parker Morin, first baseman Balbino Fuenmayor, who is recovering from an ACL injury, pitchers Brooks Pounder and Sam Selman, and 2014 Royals Minor League Pitcher of the Year Christian Binford.
Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years and players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft if not on the 40-man roster. The Rule 5 draft will be held December 10 in Nashville.