The Rule 5 draft is coming up in about a month, as long as there is no lockout before the winter meetings. But teams don’t have that long to protect players from the draft itself. That deadline is up on November 19th – that’s this upcoming Friday for those of you who don’t have a calendar handy. There’s more than a few players up for selection if they are left unprotected. One of the top names on the list for the Cincinnati Reds is outfielder Allan Cerda, who also happens to be their 20th rated prospect.
The Case for Protection
In 2021 it was a breakout season for Allan Cerda. He’s flashed plenty of tools in the past, and in 2019 he showed some of them while playing in Greeneville at the rookie-level. He took things to another level in 2021 with Daytona and Dayton. In 87 games he hit 22 doubles, 5 triples, and had 17 home runs. He posted a .250/.361/.523 line while scoring 57 runs and driving in 55.
From a tools perspective, Allan Cerda’s got five of them that are average or better. He’s an above-average defender that can handle any of the three spots in the outfield, though almost all of his time as a professional has come in center (he only has eight starts in right field and has never started in left). His power potential is above-average and he really began to tap into it this season in games, too.
Teams take chances on high upside players in the Rule 5 draft, even if they are seemingly a little bit further away from the Major Leagues. Allan Cerda certainly has a high upside as a potential every day centerfielder who can bring value in both the field and at the plate.
The Case for leaving him exposed
Above we looked at why it would make sense for the Cincinnati Reds to add Allan Cerda to the 40-man roster and remove all doubt as to whether someone would take a chance on selecting him. But there are reasons that may leave doubt as to whether he would be selected, too.
While Cerda put together a very strong season in 2021, it came mostly in Low-A Daytona. He finished strong in High-A Dayton, but it was just 21 games played at the level. Sometimes guys put things together very quickly and can make that kind of jump in a short amount of time, but most players need to spend some time working a little bit at each level and picking up things along the way before they are ready to play in the big leagues.
In 2021 the outfielder made more contact than he had back in 2019 despite splitting his time at two levels higher than where he was. Still, the right-handed hitter struck out in 29% of his plate appearances between his two stops in A-ball. Teams may be wary about just how much contact he could make in 2022 against big leaguers based off of that.
What will happen?
If I had to bet money, and I do not, I’d guess that the Reds add Allan Cerda to the 40-man roster next week. While you can certainly make the argument that the odds probably aren’t great that he would be able to stick on a big league roster all year because the jump from A-ball to the big leagues is so large, he’s also exactly the kind of player a team would think about taking a chance on. There’s a lot of upside there. And more than a few teams could be willing to use him as a bench/utility guy while developing him in the background and picking and choosing spots to give him opportunities at the plate. Add in that rosters are also larger now than they used to be, and it makes it a bit easier to try and carry someone that you want to try to hide a little bit for developmental purposes.