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Angels Rule 5 Draft Update

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Roll the dice or add to the 40 man?

Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago White Sox Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Billy Eppler’s job is not an easy one. We can play around with the “If I were Billy Eppler” pieces all day long, but there is so much more than goes into the every day job of being a general manager. For instance - the Angels have 39 guys on their 40 man roster and 10 guys who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Of course no team protects everyone - not even the Angels, especially when roster space is at a premium. Of those 10 guys, 5 of them land on the Angels top 30 prospect list and not adding them to the 40 man roster means risking another team drafting them.

I can’t remember a time (recently) that the Angels have had a dilemma like this going into the Rule 5 Draft and it’s a good sign that the system is turning around. Given the lack of roster space, I’d also be surprised if the Angels go after anyone in the Rule 5 Draft in a few weeks and take up a valuable roster spot.

40 Man Roster Boot potentials:

Jesus Castillo
In 2016, Castillo was #29 on the Angels top prosect list. He came over from the Cubs as part of the Joe Smith trade in 2013 and was protected from the Rule 5 draft last year. However, Castillo had a mediocre at best season with a 4.94 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and .264 BAA. The Fall League was perhaps his last shot at staying on the 40 man but over his 21.2 innings he was lit up for 33 hits, 7 walks, and a 5.82 ERA.

Jabari Blash
There really is not reason a guy with a 50% K rate will need to stay on the roster. If they Angels still want him for depth, he should clear waivers unless another team forgets to put on their glasses and mistakes him for someone else. A HUGE performer at the AAA level, Blash hasn’t been able to do much in the majors after 3 stints with the Padres and Angels.

Luke Farrell
Picked up on the waiver wire in early September, Farrell never pitched for the big league club. He did toss 31.1 innings for the Cubs to the tune of a 5.17 ERA and 1.468 WHIP. Seems like a prime candidate to help free up roster space and he could clear waivers anyway.

Matt Shoemaker
Not as likely since he does still have some value, but the Angels could release Shoemaker. Seems like a stretch though even though most of had the Angels non tendering him to free up salary space in our simulations.

JC Ramirez
Perhaps more likely that Shoemaker to get non-tendered. Seems unlikely the Angels would go through arbitration with a guy who had one okay season and may not even pitch until All Star Break or later in 2019.

Rule 5 eligible Top 30 prospects

Jose Suarez (LHP #8)
Over the past 4 seasons, Suarez has climbed the rankings from 23, to 15, to 13, and now is #8. That’s impressive considering the talent the Angels have been adding at the top. Suare has a career 3.68 ERA in the minor with 331 Ks over 303 innings. He would seem to be a lock for the 40 man.

Luis Rengifo (INF #10)
Also a lock for the 40 man roster, Rengifo was a huge piece the Angels got in return for CJ Cron. He could compete for an infield or utility spot this spring, giving Cozart and Fletcher some competition. The Angels could certainly use his on base skills and speed at the top of the lineup. He’s as good as already on the 40 man.

Leonardo Rivas (INF #15)
While still a top prospect, 21 year old Rivas has never played above A ball and the Angels may roll the dice on him since it’s unlikely he’d be picked up in the draft. I don’t see him being added to the roster unless he impressed at the Instructional League.

Luis Pena (RHP #18)
Pena had a 4.27 ERA for mobile in 2018 but was beat up in AAA with a 5.59 ERA and 1.693 WHIP. He’s a strikeout machine with 101 Ks in 105 innings this year but also walked 57. He’s in a gray area one step away from the big leagues so the Angels may risk losing him if they don’t add him. I’m guessing they will roll the dice on Pena.

Joe Gatto (RHP #28)
A second round pick in 2014, Gatto has slid from the #6 and #7 prospect in 2014 and 2015 to just barely hanging on in the top 30. Gatto really only has a curve and fastball so has had a tough time making it as a starter. He will probably not end up on the 40 man roster.

Non top 30 prospects

Roberto Baldoquin (INF)
The 8 million dollar man is NOT going to be added to the roster. Nobody not named Jerry Dipoto would take him in the Rule 5 draft either (and perhaps even Dipoto learned his lesson). Baldoquin is a huge bust who showed some signs of life early in 2018 but he continues to struggle with injuries and plate discipline. He had a chance to shine in the Arizona Fall League and fell flat with only 4 hits and 17 Ks over 41 at bats.

Connor Lillis-White (LHP)
Once in a while, a late round guy will impress you and Lillis-White (32nd round) is one of them. Over his 3 seasons, Lillis-White has a 3.35 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 252 Ks in 190.2 innings. I think not putting him on the 40 man bring a huge risk of losing him. The Angels could use a lefty power pitcher like Lillis-White in their bullpen next year.

Jeremy Rhoades (RHP)
Rhoades was the #15 prospect back in 2015 and a 4th round pick in 2014. He has a solid fastball and a plus slider. He slid back in the 2016 and 2017 season but was moved to the bullpen where he started to shine. In 2018, Rhoades made his case with a 2.54 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 70 Ks over 78 innings. Rhoades could be a dark horse for a roster spot since the Angels may lose him if they don’t protect him.

Jared Walsh (OF/1B/P?)
Is Walsh a two way player? Walsh, who played 69 games at first base and 46 in the outfield last season, also pitched in 8 games and was sent to the Instructional League listed as a pitcher. Over his 5.2 innings in 2018, he had a 1.59 ERA with 7 Ks and 2 walks. Seems strange they’d risk losing this guy to the Rule 5 draft.

Bo Way (OF/P?)
Like Walsh, Way was sent to the Instructional League as a pitcher. Not only did he hit .341 in Salt Lake, he also tossed 6.1 inning this year with a 2.84 ERA and 5 Ks. Between Walsh and Way, I would think Walsh has the edge to land on the 40 man if either of them do.