The Rule 5 draft will get underway tomorrow as the Winter Meeting conclude. The Reds have stated that they could take more than one player, but we will find that out tomorrow. Yesterday we looked at the possible pitchers. Today we will take a look at position players that the Reds could consider selecting.
Jabari Blash is coming off of his 25-year-old season with the Seattle Mariners. He split time between Double-A and Triple-A where he hit .271/.370/.576 with 24 doubles, two triples and 32 home runs. He also had 59 walks and 123 strikeouts in 476 plate appearances. His strikeout rate was higher than you’d like to see, but he’s got some real power in his bat. He’s mostly spent time in right field, but has some experience in left as well in recent years.
Tyler Goeddel is a name that’s been floated around a lot when it comes to the Reds. The former 1st round pick (41st overall in 2011) has spent his entire career with the Tampa Bay organization. He struggled the first two seasons, but he’s picked up his production over the last two years. In 2015 he would hit .279/.350/.433 with Double-A Montgomery to go along with 28 steals (9 CS), 48 walks and 98 strikeouts in 533 plate appearances. After spending his career at third base, he moved to the outfield in 2015 where he’s supposedly above-average in the corners and can handle center field if needed.
The Reds have also been linked to outfielder Jake Cave of the Yankees. The just turned 23-year-old spent 98% of his season in Double-A with a seven game stretch in Triple-A. He hit .278/.339/.359 overall with 17 steals, 46 walks and 106 strikeouts. He’s a platoon player from the looks of it. The lefty had .304/.366/.402 against right handers, but posted just a .468 OPS against left handed pitching with a very poor strikeout-to-walk ratio (40 strkeouts, just eight walks). There’s not much power in his game, he’s got 11 career home runs in 380 games played. He can handle center field defensively.
Zach Borenstein is an interesting name to keep an eye on. While he can’t handle center field, he can handle each of the corner spots. In 2015 he spent a majority of his time in Double-A, but also saw a few weeks in Triple-A. Overall he hit .289/.363/.461. His run in Triple-A was rough and the advanced pitching had their way with him as he had just one walk and 14 strikeouts in 53 plate appearances. He’s got real power though, and showed a strikeout rate under 20% for the entire season.
The pickings seem to be slim on infielders with any kind of bat this year. Mets 27-year-old TJ Rivera may be the best fit from the group. While he’s certainly not young by any stretch, and thus likely to be nothing more than a utility player, he can handle all of the infield positions (though not shortstop on a regular basis) and he’s done nothing but hit in the minors. Last season, split between Double-A and Triple-A he hit .325/.364/.449 with 19 walks and 47 strikeouts in 430 plate appearances. He’s got an aggressive approach (he has just 128 walks in 2206 minor league plate appearances), but he makes a lot of contact (strikeout rate is just 12.6% for his career).
Another option could be Willians (with an N) Austudillo. He’s been in the Phillies system since signing as a teenager out of Venezuela. The now 24-year-old has never played above the Advanced-A level, making him a bit of a long shot. But, he’s a guy who has struck out a grand total of 30 times (with 29 walks) in the last two seasons, spanning 883 plate appearances. He’s shown elite bat-on-ball skills and has hit .333 and .314 in each of those two seasons. There’s no power that comes along with that, but he has played catcher, first base, third base and some left field over the last two seasons. Unfortunately he’s a below-average defender at all of the positions.
There are more names out there and Baseball America has a much longer list of guys, but those names above are the ones that seem most likely to be selected in my mind.