The Rule 5 draft is coming up in a few weeks, but next week is usually the time in which we begin to see teams start to protect their players from possible selection. To get some background information on the Rule 5 draft, check out the Draft Primer that was written last week. Today we are going to take a look at who the Cincinnati Reds need to protect and who they could lose among the pitchers. We will look at the position players on Friday.

Who needs protecting for the first time from the Rule 5 Draft

The quick and easy solution for figuring out who needs protecting for the first time is to look at the high school players drafted in 2011 and the college players drafted in 2012. That makes up the majority of the group, but international players signed in 2011 also fall into this group. There are a few big names among this group, including top prospect Robert Stephenson. Here’s the list (I purposefully left off anyone who hasn’t played above rookie ball) of all of the players that are eligible for the first time:

  • Ben Klimesh
  • Dan Langfield
  • Keury Mella
  • Nick Routt
  • Nolan Becker
  • Robert Stephenson
  • Sal Romano
  • Stephen Johnson

Looking at that list, there are four absolute locks. Pitchers Keury Mella, Robert Stephenson, Sal Romano and Stephen Johnson will absolutely be protected (short of being traded). After that, things could go several different ways.

Ben Klimesh has the arm, but after a strong start, he really struggled with his control in Louisville after a promotion and eventually wound up back in Pensacola. He would miss a majority of the second half with a strained neck. Likely left unprotected

Dan Langfield missed the entire 2015 season. His career has been one of dominance and injuries. When he’s been on the mound, for the most part, he’s been very good. But he also has missed two entire seasons since being drafted in 2012. When he’s been healthy he’s shown plus stuff, though with some control problems. It’s unlikely that he’s selected with so much unknown, but for a small fee, a team could take a chance on a premium arm if he’s unprotected. Likely left unprotected

Keury Mella is a lock to be protected. He came over to the Reds in the Mike Leake trade in July. He’s got a big arm and has had strong production throughout his career. Absolutely protected

Nick Routt doesn’t fit the profile of the types of guys you see taken in the Rule 5 draft. His lack of upper minors experience plays against his selection when coupled with his being more of a polished type of arm than a big fastball kind of guy. Being left handed gives him that outside chance that someone could take a chance with him as a LOOGY. Likely left unprotected

Nolan Becker is a lefty hander, which always gives you that chance to be taken as a LOOGY. He isĀ  6′ 6″ and has above-average velocity for a lefty. He did struggle with control though and nearly walked as many left handers as he struck them out. Likely left unprotected

Robert Stephenson, like Keury Mella, is a lock to be protected. He’s the top prospect in the system. Absolutely protected

Sal Romano is also a lock to be protected. He’s got a big time arm to work with and has big groundball rates. Absolutely protected

Stephen Johnson came over to the Reds in the Marlon Byrd trade in August. The reliever is probably a lock to be protected. Near absolutely protected

Who else could be protected from the Rule 5 Draft

While we looked at the pitchers who are going to be eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time if left unprotected, that still leaves open the option for players who are eligible for a second or third time. While you don’t often see those kinds of guys selected, there are some guys worth discussing from this group.

Carlos Gonzalez has plenty of arm to work with, showing above-average velocity and a good breaking ball. He struggled in Double-A in both 2014 and 2015, making him unlikely to be selected, but he’s got the right kind of arm that someone could take a chance on. Likely left unprotected

Alejandro Chacin doesn’t fit the profile of your typical selection. He’s an undersized right hander without a lot of velocity. All he does is get guys out though with a low arm angle, movement and plenty of groundballs. Likely left unprotected

Drew Hayes will be 28-years-old at the start of 2016 and he’s coming off of his best season in several years. He posted a 2.69 ERA in 2015, mostly at Triple-A. He’s got plenty of stuff, but control has been an issue for him, walking nearly five batters per nine innings in his career. Likely left unprotected

Joel Bender is a big left hander who misses bats and those guys are always in demand. He’s only thrown 32.2 innings above A-ball, but he’s struck out 29 hitters in that span along with 14 walks. He’s got a enough stuff, but can battle inconsistency at times. He’s a lefty with enough stuff and he’s shown he can miss bats, so there’s always a chance he could be selected. An overall lack of upper minors experience though could make it unlikely. Likely left unprotected

Among the pitchers that need to be protected, it would seem that the Reds will be adding four guys at the very least. While we don’t know who will and won’t be protected, it seems unlikely that the Reds will lose any pitchers to the Rule 5 draft unless something unpredictable happens. With the Rule 5 draft, those unpredictable things do happen at times, and there are a few candidates that would be surprises if they were selected but would make some sense to take a risk on at the same time.