Yesterday I wrote about the nine players that the Cincinnati Reds should protect from the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Today we will get into some of the players that I would choose to leave unprotected and why.

The 2016 offseason has the Cincinnati Reds in a place where they need to add a lot of players, more so than teams usually add. That’s put them in a situation where there are going to likely have to really pick and choose who to keep and take a real risk that several players could be drafted from them. Having depth can be a blessing, but at times like the Reds face now, it may also be a curse as they could potentially lose some of that talent to other teams.

Players at risk – The Pitchers

Alejandro Chacin – The 23-year-old righthander is coming off of a dominating season for Double-A Pensacola. He posted a 1.78 ERA in 60.2 innings with just 51 hits allowed, 26 walks (three were intentional) and 75 strikeouts. The numbers he put up could very well get him selected in the draft, and it’s not as if he’s devoid of stuff. But he’s not an overpowering pitcher and while I do think that he could carve out a big league career, he projects a bit more as a 6th inning caliber reliever than someone who can pitch at the back end of the bullpen with a ton of upside. As a right hander with that profile, teams don’t often take that type of player. For that reason, I’d leave him unprotected. In other years with a little more wiggle room on the 40-man, he would probably be added, but this year there just isn’t that room.

Carlos Gonzalez – Another right hander that spent the season in Pensacola in 2016. Carlos Gonzalez posted a 3.77 ERA in 62.0 innings with 22 walks (two intentional) and 57 strikeouts. He’s a tad older, turning 27-years-old next June. He had a dominant first half, posting a 2.48 ERA in 32.2 innings with 12 walks and 36 strikeouts, but his second half was a step back from there as he managed an ERA of 5.22 with 10 walks and 21 strikeouts in 29.1 innings.  He dominated right handers with just four walked and 26 strikeouts, but struggled somewhat with lefties who had 19 walks and 35 strikeouts against him. There’s some stuff there, but the combination of his age and other pitching depth makes him a guy worth risking.

Jackson Stephens – From a pure numbers standpoint, Jackson Stephens sticks out. At 22-years-old he posted a 3.33 ERA in Double-A with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in 151.1 innings where he had just 41 walks and struck out 131 batters. He was young for the level, started 27 games and put up strong numbers. The thing working against Stephens is the depth ahead of him and the lack of spots available on the roster. Most scouts think he’s more of a swingman type of starter, and with the depth in front of him, there’s just not room to protect him at this point. In most other years he’d probably be protected.

Jon Moscot – He’s got big league experience, but not much success in limited action. He has had some success in the upper minor leagues, but he’s likely going to miss all of the 2017 season. That probably keeps him off of the selection list for most as a player who projects as a back of the rotation pitcher or maybe a bullpen arm. Investing over $1M in salary to keep him on the roster for the next two seasons is probably a bit too much risk for a team to take, so I’d keep him off for that reason.

Jonathon Crawford – When he was acquired, along with Eugenio Suarez in a trade from the Tigers in December 2014 he was viewed as a top end prospect. Since joining the Reds organization though he’s done nothing but battle injuries. He’s thrown a total of 28.0 innings that didn’t come on rehab stints in Arizona in the last two seasons. He just turned 25 last week, so he’s not getting younger, but he’s a former 1st rounder who had a big arm and was highly touted. His velocity began to pick up as he joined Daytona in 2016, and while the results weren’t good, there’s a chance that someone could take a chance to see what he can do in spring training. When he was healthy in the past his fastball/slider combination both showed above-average and could work in most bullpens. His injury history and lack of performance below Low-A would keep him off of my protection list right now, but I wouldn’t be completely shocked if someone decided to take a look-see on him either.

Nick Routt – The left hander dominated in 2016 for the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos, posting a 0.89 ERA in 50.1 innings with 12 walks, one home run allowed and 46 strikeouts. He, however, had big struggles when he was promoted to Triple-A where his ERA was 5.00 in just 18.0 innings where he had more walks, 13, than strikeouts, 12. As a left hander he may get extra consideration as every team is seemingly looking for left handed relievers and his success in Double-A could grab some attention. His struggles in Triple-A may cause some hesitation among those teams looking at the stats first, though. His stuff is solid, but not overpowering and in other years he may get more consideration to be protected, but in a crowded year he just falls to far down the depth chart. Don’t be surprised if someone takes a chance on him later on in the draft though.

Players at risk – The Position Players

Angelo Gumbs – He joined the organization right before spring training after being released by the Yankees. Gumbs, a former 2nd round draft pick and Top 10 Yankees prospect, had seemingly stalled out at the Advanced-A level, failing to hit at all in three seasons with New York in the Florida State League. The 23-year-old was sent back to the league with Daytona and put together his best season as a professional. Improved pitch recognition and plate discipline let him get more out of his hitting tools and he posted a .298/.342/.460 line (.125 points of OPS better than the league average) to go along with 25 walks and just 48 strikeouts in 403 plate appearances. He showed some tools to go along with the production as well. The reason I’d leave him unprotected is that he’s still never played in the upper minor leagues and very seldom do you see position players taken who don’t have that experience that can also stick on a big league roster all year long.

Brandon Dixon – I’d imagine that no one in baseball had a better six game streak of their season than Brandon Dixon did from May 29th through June 5th when he hit .625 with two doubles and eight home runs. For the season he hit .260/.315/.434 for Double-A Pensacola and showed off some good power while playing all around the field (1B, 2B, CF, RF, LF and even a game at 3B). While the power has a chance to be quite impressive, his plate approach at this point makes him unlikely to stick at the big league level. In Double-A he had 30 walks and 137 strikeouts in 461 plate appearances. The 30% strikeout rate in Double-A doesn’t translate well to the big leagues, and he probably needs more time to work through that in the minors before he’d be ready to hit Major League pitching. He does provide some position flexibility and that power could play off of the bench if it were usable. I believe he’d go undrafted though, and with the roster crunch, I’d leave him unprotected.

Calten Daal – Injuries cost him most of the season in 2016 as he racked up just 140 plate appearances. He hit well in that time, posting a .310/.365/.379 line for Double-A Pensacola. As a shortstop he could cover a team at both spots up the middle defensively. He’s also got some speed that could be useful on the basepaths coming off of the bench. His relative lack of experience in the upper minor leagues though makes him unlikely to be selected. He just turned 23 late in the season, so he’s certainly young and still improving as a player, but the combination of a full upper minor leagues season, coming off of an injury and lack of roster spots would leave him unprotected for me.

Chad Wallach – Like his teammate Calten Daal, an injury led to missed time for Pensacola for Chad Wallach in 2016. A broken finger cost him six weeks of the season. When he was on the field he performed well. He hit .240, which you’d like to have seen more out of, but his .363 on-base percentage was strong thanks to 37 walks (and just 46 strikeouts) in 243 plate appearances. He also showed a bit of pop, hitting 10 doubles and eight home runs in his 69 games played. Behind the plate he threw out 14 of 43 opposing base runners (33%). While his defense has improved, scouts I’ve talked with still think he’s got work to do behind the plate. Combine that with solid, but unspectacular production at the plate and limited spots, I’d keep him off for now and risk his selection. As a catcher with a little bit of a bat, he’s certainly selectable.

Zach Vincej – The 2016 season was the best one to date for Zach Vincej outside of his debut season in the hitter friendly Pioneer League in 2012 for the Billings Mustangs. He topped the .700 OPS plateau for the first time since that season, hitting .281/.329/.378 for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Vincej walked 25 times with 85 strikeouts in 438 plate appearances to go along with 24 doubles, three triples and three home runs. He also took home the minor league Gold Glove award for his outstanding season in the field where he posted a .991 fielding percentage.  As I type this, on Tuesday evening, Vincej is hitting an incredible .390/.457/.756 in the Arizona Fall League. His 1.213 OPS is the best in the league by 126 points. He’s hit as many home runs, three, in 41 plate appearances in the AFL as he hit all season for Pensacola. While the organization needs a backup infielder for 2017, Vincej probably isn’t ready to fill that role out of the gate. In other years he may warrant protection, but in a year with so many others that need it he just gets crunched out. The insane hot streak he’s been on in Arizona is nice to see, but it’s doubtful that it’s changed too many minds on what he projects to be, though perhaps he’s showing something new to the right set of eyeballs. I’d think it’s unlikely that he would be selected.

While there are a few other players that are eligible and not mentioned here, I don’t believe there’s much conversation to be had to protect those players at this point.