The baseball winter meetings are in full swing in San Diego, which means it is almost time for the annual Rule 5 draft. The Yankees made a big choice to protect seven prospects from the draft, including their top prospects Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, and Estevan Florial. But they were not able to protect all their prospects and left a few exposed that have a chance to be selected.
If a player is selected, they pay the Yankees a $100,000 fee, but if they are returned to their original team, the fee is slashed in half to $50,000, which makes selecting a player an inexpensive option for a team looking to give a prospect a chance. With MLB rosters expanding to 26 men for the 2020 season, it would make it easier for some teams to hide a Rule 5 selection on their roster for the full season.
A player’s chance to be selected in the draft can come down to many factors, the most important of which is how many teams have open spots on their 40-man roster. The last time a Yankee prospect was selected in the draft and remained with the team that picked him was when the Cincinnati Reds selected catcher Luis Torrens and traded him to the San Diego Padres. The Padres kept Torrens on their roster for the entire 2017 season, optioning him to the minors in 2018.
It is possible that one of these prospects could be taken and stick on the roster of the club that selected them. The majority of the people on this list are pitchers, a position the Yankees organization is deep in.
RHP Rony Garcia
Right-handed pitcher Rony Garcia has been with the Yankees since he was signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2015. Since then, he has put together a solid minor league career Throwing 396 innings over four seasons with a 1.16 WHIP and a 3.50 ERA over 75 games, 72 starts.
Over the four seasons in the Yankees organization, Garcia has never been on the injured list and has the makings of a solid back-of-the-rotation starter on a big-league club. He spent most of the 2019 season in Double-A and had an underrated season that included an incredible performance in the Eastern League Championship Series.
Garcia’s fastball is good; he throws it between 92-95 miles per hour and backs it up with two secondary pitches, a slider, and a changeup. The slider is a fringe pitch that has the potential to be average, and his changeup still requires development to become useable in the major leagues. He can benefit from the pitching coach overhaul the Yankees have undergone throughout the organization. A team may select him to see what they could extract out of him.
Garcia is a strong candidate for a team that is looking for a guy they can stash in the bullpen. He is not as far away from the majors as other pitchers are, having thrown 105 1/3 innings in Double-A.
RHP Daniel Alvarez
Daniel Alvarez, a right-handed pitcher out of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, has been with the Yankees organization since signing with them in 2014. Throughout most of his career, he was a starting pitcher, having moved into the bullpen full-time before the 2018 season.
The 2019 season was a true breakout season for the right-hander. Having done the rare feat of skipping over Class-A Advanced Tampa and going straight to Double-A Trenton, he was impressive. Over 46 games in Double-A and one game in Triple-A, Alvarez was 7-2 with a 2.29 ERA and struck out 76 batters in 59 innings.
Alvarez possesses a fastball that he throws in the 91-94 miles per hour range, averaging 92. He backs it up with a good hammer curveball that he throws at 80-83 miles per hour as well as a changeup he throws at 80 miles per hour. Never known as big velocity guy, Alvarez has a high competitiveness level that few could match.
RHP Brody Koerner
Brody Koerner, a right-handed pitcher that the Yankees drafted in the 17th round of the 2015 draft, has quietly put together a solid minor league career. Over 92 games in five seasons, he started 52 of them, including 22 starts for the Trenton Thunder and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in 2019.
Koerner has 148 2/3 innings in Triple-A over the course of his career, along with another 124 1/3 innings in Double-A over the last three seasons. He has struggled in Triple-A, pitching to a 5-9 record with a 5.63 ERA in 30 games, 21 starts, and struck out 109 batters while walking 46.
Koerner profiles more as a reliever in the big leagues, a role he could easily play in 2020 with the right club. Taking a flyer on him in the Rule 5 draft would be good for a small market team that is not expecting to compete. His fastball is mostly in the low-90s, topping out at 94 miles per hour. He compliments it with a slider in the low-80s and a changeup that is usually thrown in the 79-82 miles per hour range.
LHP Trevor Lane
The Yankees drafted left-handed pitcher Trevor Lane in the 10th round of the 2016 draft out of the University of Illinois-Chicago. Over the course of four seasons, he has a 15-10 record with a 2.38 ERA over 134 games out of the bullpen. In 223 1/3 innings, he struck out 238 batters and reached Triple-A for the first time in 2019, throwing 4 2/3 innings for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
Lane has 88 1/3 innings in Double-A over the last two seasons, with 87 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.45. Left-handed pitchers that through in the 90s and each as high as 95 miles per hour on the gun are tough to come by. That is something that Lane has to his advantage; however, he only touches 95 mph occasionally.
At-best, Lane profiles as a mid-relief pitcher in the big leagues. At-worst he will be an up-and-down emergency relief pitcher or a lefty-specialist. The potential of the 3-batter rule being implemented will be a strike against acquiring him in the draft, but with the addition of the 26th roster spot in 2020, a team may want to take a flyer on him to see what he has.
Fans will remember left-handed pitcher Anderson Severino from his one appearance in Major League Spring Training this past year, where he faced off with Bryce Harper — ultimately walking him on a 99-mph pitch that was up and in. He went on to induce a fielder’s choice and strikeout two to end the inning. Though he was due to become a free agent this past November, he re-signed with the Yankees.
Severino could be a force out of the bullpen in the future with his two-pitch mix. The lefty’s primary pitch is his big-time fastball that sits in the 95-96 MPH range and has topped out at over 100 miles per hour at times. His curveball sits in the high-70s-to-low-80s and features hard spin.
Severino is smaller in stature than most pitchers at the major league level at just 5-foot 10-inches and weighing in at 165 pounds. In 87 career minor league games, 19 starts, he owns an 11-14 record with a 4.04 ERA and 177 strikeouts on 198 1/3 innings of work. Though he has yet to make it out of Class-A Advanced, the addition of the 26th man on MLB rosters in 2020 could work to his advantage. A team can take a flyer on him and try to hide him in their bullpen for a year before sending him down to the minors in 2021 to complete his development.
RHP Domingo Acevedo
Right-handed pitcher Domingo Acevedo is an interesting case. At one point, Acevedo was one of the top pitching prospects in the Yankees organization buy his prospect status has dropped after he struggled to retain the velocity he was showcasing earlier in his career.
At one point he was topping out at 103 miles per hour with his fastball, now he has topped out at 95 miles per hour this past season after moving permanently to the bullpen. Throughout his career, Acevedo suffered some freak injuries, but the loss of his once elite velocity caused him to be removed from the Yankees 40-man roster and re-signed to a minor league contract.
Acevedo is a prospect that could greatly benefit from the changes the Yankees have made to their pitching development. It is possible that he could regain some of the velocity he lost and become a force out of the bullpen. The question is, does another team see that kind of potential in Acevedo? He could be an interesting pick in the Rule 5 draft by a team that has an advanced pitching development program as they work to bring him back some prospect shine.
RHP Brian Keller
Right-handed pitcher Brian Keller, 25, has been with the Yankees organization since he was drafted out of the 39th round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He put together an impressive career in the minors. Over 72 games, 60 starts, he owns a career 26-20 record with a 3.22 ERA and 384 strikeouts in 386 innings.
Keller came into this season showcasing an increase in velocity, while in year’s past he would top out at 93 miles per hour this spring he came into camp with the ability to hit 96 miles per hour on occasion. He suffered an injury and missed the first part of the 2019 season, returning in a one-game rehab with the Staten Island Yankees on June 17, 2019. After that one game, he returned to Double-A, appearing in seven games for the Trenton Thunder before being promoted to Triple-A.
The Yankees have several other prospects that are on the verge of being ready for the majors but are also exposed to the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. That list includes right-handed pitcher Adonis Rosa who made his MLB debut this past season for the Yankees as well as infielders Kyle Holder and Chris Gittens. Both of them had strong seasons in Double-A and figure to spend the 2020 season in Triple-A if they are not taken in the Rule 5 draft. Other players on the pitching front that could find themselves selected in the draft are left-handed pitcher James Reeves, right-handed pitchers David Sosebee, Will Carter, and Raynel Espinal.