The 40-Man Roster Crunch: The Lost
If you’re just joining us, I’ve been spending this week working through the Phillies’ 40-Man roster crunch, and taking a look at which prospects may be added in advance of the Rule 5 protection deadline. On Monday, I cleared some space on the current roster and found what might be up to ten spots available for Rule 5 eligible prospects. On Tuesday, I looked at the players who are basically locks to be added to the roster. On Thursday, I examined seven players with strong, but not guaranteed, cases for receiving a roster spot. To summarize, the following players have already been examined earlier in the week:
Today, we finish up by discussing the players who are potential targets for other teams in the Rule 5 draft. Obviously, I consider the above players most likely to be picked if available. Because not all of them have room to be protected, a couple may be selected. However, the large majority those players are going to be off limits.
Subtitling this article as “The Lost” is only really relevant for alliterative purposes – at worst, the Phillies would only lose a couple players in the draft. The below is a list of the players who just missed the cut, but are intriguing Rule 5 eligible prospects. It is feasible, but not too likely, that any one of them will end up on another team’s active roster in Spring Training.
RHP Drew Anderson
Anderson split the year between the Lakewood Blueclaws and Clearwater Threshers after recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2015, and dominated full season batters. Over 70 innings, he featured a 28.0 percent strikeout rate, while throwing a low-mid 90s fastball, curveball, and changeup combination. He was originally taken in the 21st round of the 2012 draft, but has only thrown 218.2 innings in his five year career as a starting pitcher. That relative inexperience, and heightened injury concerns, may prevent other teams from taking him in the Rule 5 draft. He will probably begin next season back in Clearwater, and if everything goes well, could reasonably reach Philadelphia late in the 2019 season. A good profile on his return from injury can be read at Phillies Minor Thoughts.
The second baseman turned outfielder notably retired prior to the 2016 season at age 22 – only to unretire and rejoin the Threshers in May. He’s never struck out very much, and finally hit for a lot more power this season. He hit really well in the Florida State League and had an Andrew Knapp-lite stint in Reading to end the year. Teams don’t often select corner outfielders in the Rule 5 draft, and with an abbreviated season constituting his breakout, it would require a team to be very confident in the looks they caught this year. An elbow injury to end the season prevented his appearance in the Arizona Fall League, which is just as well for the Phillies. Winter Leagues are a place where other teams sometimes get last looks at Rule 5 eligible prospects (the Phillies used that opportunity two years ago to get acquainted with Odubel Herrera). Pullin may return to Reading to begin next season, and could be in the Majors in 2018.
LHP Hoby Milner
Milner is a former starting pitching prospect (and seventh round pick in the 2012 draft), who completely reworked his mechanics and became a submarine-throwing left-handed reliever in 2016. As a reliever, his strikeout rate shot up to 28 percent while his walk rate dropped to 5.5 percent, each mark the best of his career. He threw 66 percent strikes this season, and generated a 45 percent groundball rate. Per Milner himself, he still throws a sinking fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup out of the bullpen. As a starter, he sat 87-89 mph, and while there aren’t a lot of velocity readings for him this season, there is the hope that his fastball returns to the low 90s velocity he showed out the bullpen in college. I would be really curious to see what he could do if invited to Spring Training next season, but high strikeout rate LOOGYs are the bread and butter of the Rule 5 draft. It’s completely possible that he is taken by another team. I imagine that Milner would otherwise be invited to Spring Training, and if he didn’t win a job in March, could be up in Philadelphia early in the season.
LHP Tom Windle
Windle was a second round pick by the Dodgers in the 2013 draft, and was traded to the Phillies with Zach Eflin for Jimmy Rollins in 2014. He is another left-handed starter turned reliever, but has a more traditional relief profile than Milner. He throws a plus fastball with a good slider, and hasn’t developed a usable third pitch. He’s also struggled mightily with control throughout his career. Despite his poor ERA in 2016, he did produce the highest strikeout rate of his career and a 50 percent groundball rate. Again, left-handed relievers with plus fastballs and a decent breaking pitch get selected in the Rule 5 draft all the time, even if they allow a lot of walks. A team that is willing to take a flyer on him in Spring Training might take Windle and attempt to improve his strike throwing ability. As a Phillie, Windle probably begins next season back in double-A, and could reach Philadelphia as a reliever in 2018.
Yet another member of the Phillies’ 2012 draft class, Cameron Perkins has already spent an extensive amount of time at triple-A. During his first stop in 2014, he struggled badly, managing a .557 OPS. He spent the next season at double-A Reading, and returned to Lehigh Valley in 2016. He makes a ton of contact, but draws few walks and hits for little power. He can play all three outfield positions, but most reports say he’s best suited for a corner spot. Already entering his age 26 season and without the standard offensive profile for a corner outfielder, he’s limited to a bench role (his past as an infielder may provide some positional flexibility). He’s unlikely to be picked, but a team needing a contact-oriented bench outfielder could take a chance. He’ll otherwise return to Lehigh Valley in 2017, and could reach Philadelphia at any point if there is an injury at the Major League level.
Dygestile-Therrien was taken by the Phillies in the 17th round of the 2011 draft. He’s a pure reliever, and has put up sterling numbers over the last two seasons. In 2016, however, he jumped to another tier, with a 31.9 percent strikeout rate, and 55 percent groundball rate between high-A and double-A. He features a fastball / curveball combination, and could definitely interest another team. He would likely start back at double-A Reading next season, but as a fast moving reliever, could feasibly reach the Majors in 2017.
Even after all of this, there is a final group of names I can list here who are Rule 5 eligible and interesting in some respect, but are less likely to be selected than those above. This group to includes UTIL Darnell Sweeney, C Gabriel Lino, C Deivi Grullon, RHP Miguel Nunez, RHP Mark Leiter Jr., 3B Mitch Walding, and 3B Zach Green.