The MLB rule 5 draft was put on hiatus thanks to the lockout. However, the expectation is that it will still happen once the league and players union comes to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement early in 2022. With that in mind, there are several Dodgers that are prime for the picking in that eventual rule 5 draft.
Notably, LA lost two pitchers in last year’s draft, both of which stayed with the clubs that selected them. Right-hander Jordan Sheffield, a former first round pick out of Vanderbilt, was taken by the Colorado Rockies where he posted a 3.38 ERA over 30 relief appearances. Brett de Geus, a right-hander taken in the 33rd round of the 2017 draft, was selected by the Texas Rangers who traded him to Arizona after 19 appearances. Between the Rangers and Diamondbacks, de Geus put together a 7.56 ERA over 47 games.
For the 2021 draft prospects, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic recently identified minor league outfielder Jeren Kendall as LA’s top candidate to be taken in the draft. Here’s a key takeaway from his blurb on the outfielder.
Taking Kendall straight out of Double-A would certainly be a high-risk selection, but the tools that made him a first-round pick in 2017 still remain. … If there’s a team that looks at Kendall’s career 36.7 percent strikeout rate and feels it can correct some things, maybe it takes a chance.
Kendall has been lauded as an exceptional defensive outfielder but his hit tool has struggled as a professional. Over his 4 seasons with the Dodgers, he’s hit just .219 while striking out 448 times in 311 games. When he gets on base, he can run. He stole a career-high 37 bases in 2018.
It’s easy to imagine that any team that takes a flier on Kendall won’t likely be in the hunt for a World Series title in 2022. But he’s a reasonably low risk, high reward option for a team looking for some help in the outfield.
Our resident prospects expert here at Dodgers Nation — Tim Rogers — identified at least three more names who “might turn out to be real good” if selected by other teams. Leonel Valera, Drew Avans, and Ryan Noda.
Tim discussed Valera last month as one of the players the Dodgers should consider protecting from the rule 5 draft on the 40-man roster.
“It seems that Leonel Valera has been on and off prospect lists for the last five years,” Tim said at the time. “There is a lot of raw ability but the production might not indicate another team might take him.”
Considering how many free agent infielders remain on the open market, Valera might be safe this time around.
Drew Avans has shown some on-base abilities but not too much else. He finally reached Triple-A as a 25-year-old last summer and may have done enough (.275/.388/.438, 15 2B, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 19 SB in 90 games) to put himself on the radar for a rebuilding team.
Finally, Ryan Noda was the player to be named later in the Ross Stripling trade from 2020. The outfielder/first baseman arguably put together his best season as a pro in 2021. Over 113 games at the Double-A level, the 25-year-old hit .250/.383/.521 with 29 home runs. That big power was a focus for Casey Porter over at our sister site Dodgers 2080 a few months ago.
You know you have power when you half swing and still hit the ball out of the stadium.
Ryan Noda has serious power and is 2nd in AA in homeruns pic.twitter.com/N56zb8WzjC
— Dodger Poke Report (@dodger_poke) August 25, 2021
If the Dodgers weren’t already so deep at the outfield and first base positions, Noda would likely rank a little high on the extended depth charts. Besides those already at the big league level, there are several top prospects ahead of him for potential playing time in LA, including James Outman and Andy Pages.
Will all of these players get taken in the rule 5 draft? Probably not. Noda and Avans certainly have a chance of going. Kendall will be an option for a team that thinks they can revamp the 25-year-old’s swing. Of course, the Dodgers have tried that in the past and haven’t had much success. If any or all are taken, that won’t do much to affect LA’s plans for the next few seasons.