The MLB Rule 5 draft is tentatively just under one month away and with that, the time for organizations to protect eligible minor league prospects is upon us.
The Dodgers have until Friday, November 19th to put some of their top prospects on the 40-man Major League roster. Players that have been in the farm system for either four or five years (details below) are eligible to be drafted by another Major League team on December 10th. The player, if drafted away from LA, for example, would need to be on the Major League roster of the team that took him for the entire season or they can be reclaimed by the Dodgers.
Players first signed at age 18 or younger must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn’t stay on the MLB roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000. – MLB.com
There is one big twist though, as the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) could delay the Rule 5 Draft or even change it. That is the big unknown.
The Top 30 Prospects That Need To Be Protected
The following players are from the MLB Pipeline Top 30 Prospects for the Dodgers.
- Jacob Amaya, SS (No. 14)
- Leonel Valera, SS (No. 15)
- Eddys Leonard, IF (No. 18)
- Jorbit Vivas, IF (No. 19)
- James Outman, OF (No. 27)
- Robinson Ortiz, LHP (No. 29)
The bat struggled a bit in 2021 as he reconstructed his swing so some may have soured on him. I do not believe the Dodgers have as he provides excellent defense at shortstop and over-the-top intangibles. I’ve witnessed him up close in 2019 with the Quakes and he is a true leader on the field. Casey Porter did a great article on Amaya recently for us at our sister site, Dodgers 2080.
I definitely think that Amaya will be taken by another team if the Dodgers don’t protect him. He is already a major league-level shortstop defensively. Amaya should be protected.
It seems that Leonel Valera has been on and off prospect lists for the last five years but now the Dodgers need to make a decision about whether they should protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. There is a lot of raw ability but the production might not indicate another team might take him. He slashed .224/.305/.436 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and does not have the defense that Amaya provides, yet.
Leonel Valera's 16th homer for Great Lakes was a missile to left pic.twitter.com/6dUfI6bgOD
— Josh Thomas (@jokeylocomotive) September 8, 2021
If a team were to select Valera and have to keep him in the Major Leagues all season it could wreck his development. I’m not sure the Dodgers protect him (it is still risky) but I hope he stays for another season of excellent development.
Not many had heard of Eddys Leonard before the 2021 season. I first saw him play for the Quakes in 2021 and was impressed right from the beginning. He outperformed higher-ranked (at the time) Alex DeJesus and ended up slashing .296/.390/.539 across two Single-A teams in his first full professional season. BTW, DeJesus finished strong in 2021.
I am very high on Leonard and I think he has some upside. He can play all over the infield and his versatility and bat are made for the Dodgers. I expect him to be protected.
Jorbit Vivas has a similar arch to his career and 2021 season to Eddys Leonard. Across the two Single-A teams, Vivas slashed .312/.396/.496. He spent most of his time at both second and third base with some appearances at shortstop and the outfield. A standout statistic that I noticed was Vivas only struck out 55 times in 413 at-bats. This while also adding power. I put his hit tool at 60 myself. I wrote about Vivas a few months ago for Dodgers 2080 and also did a little video spotlight on him.
I believe the Dodgers have to protect Vivas as I can see a team taking a chance by drafting him.
I first interviewed James Outman after the 2018 season which was his first professional season. His next season was a struggle but he became a bit of a surprise for the Dodgers in Spring Training of 2021. He started the season with the Loons and slashed .250/.385/.472 with 9 home runs in 65 games. His promotion to Tulsa resulted in a slash of .289/.369/.518 with 9 home runs in just 39 games. It looks like Outman made some strong progress in 2021.
When your name is James Outman, you make catches like this pic.twitter.com/7RoJ4wsR0S
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) March 3, 2021
Outman is one of the best athletes in the farm system and plays an excellent outfield. The bat is making great progress and I think he has to be protected. He can help a major league club with his glove, right now.
Robinson Ortiz has experienced a bit uptick in his fastball over the last two seasons.
Ortiz worked at 94-97 mph during live batting practice last spring after previously operating at 90-93 and topping out at 95 with running action on his fastball. He uses his heater to set up a solid changeup with fade and sink that he throws with the same arm speed. His slider has its moments but gets slurvy at times and is clearly his third-best pitch. – MLB Pipeline
Regretfully, he pitched in only 4 games in 2021 before a strained forearm ended his season. Ortiz is one of the few left-handed starter prospects for the Dodgers so he could be protected. I do not believe he is ready for the big leagues so a team drafting him might really damage his development.
Along with the above prospects the following players also need to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft:
- OF Ismael Alcantara
- OF Drew Avans
- OF Aldrich De Jongh
- C Hunter Feduccia
- IF Deacon Liput
- IF/OF Devin Mann
- 2B/OF Sam McWilliams
- OF/1B Ryan Noda
- 1B Imanol Vargas
- RHP Michael Grove
- RHP Jose Martinez
- LHP John Rooney
- RHP Gus Varland
Thank you Dodgers Digest for the rest of the players eligible to be drafted. DD did question the availability of Vivas and Leonard but I included them above since MLB Pipeline included them. I must admit, I hope they all stay with the Dodgers. However, getting drafted in Rule 5 they get put on the 40-man roster for the drafting team and their pay goes up quite a bit, even while in the minor leagues. Of course, since they need to stay on the 26-man roster all of 2022, they would earn the MLB minimum of around $575K. That is game-changing money for those guys.
Best of luck to all the players eligible and may they get an opportunity to rise fast to the Major Leagues.