The Cincinnati Reds gained and lost a player this afternoon in the minor league version of the Rule 5 draft. With their first round pick the Reds selected outfielder Ronnie Dawson from the Houston Astros. In the second round the Reds lost relief pitcher Carson Fulmer to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While the rules can be similar to the big league version of the Rule 5 draft when it comes to eligibility, the rules once the selection takes place are different. Players selected in the minor league version do not need to remain at any specific level or be offered back to their original team. The selecting team can place the player anywhere in their system without having to worry about losing the player.
Ronnie Dawson was a 2nd round draft pick out of Ohio State back in 2016 by the Astros. As a junior that season he hit .331/.419/.611 with 25 doubles, 4 triples, 13 home runs, and 21 steals for the Buckeyes. His scouting report at the time of the draft from Baseball America noted that he “has an intriguing power/speed combination with the chance to hit for average power while also stealing 10-15 bases”.
In his minor league career he’s certainly been able to show some pop and steal some bases. During the 2018 season he stole 35 bases while splitting time between Advanced-A and Double-A. He also hit 16 home runs that season in 119 games played. The steals that season were certainly an outlier, but he’s stolen 14-18 bases in each of his other minor league seasons.
Consistency has been a bit of an issue for Dawson since being drafted. He’s hit anywhere from .207 to .278 in the five minor league seasons that he’s played. Last year in Triple-A Sugar Land he hit .249/.341/.374 with a career low 7 home runs. But he also had a career best strikeout rate of just 20%, perhaps trading off some power for more contact. The outfielder also spent a week in the big leagues with the Astros in April of 2021 before heading back to the minors for the rest of the season.
A good fielder, Dawson can play center, left, or right if asked. He’s not the fastest guy on the team, but he had good jumps and direct routes to the ball that allow his defense to play up beyond what his raw speed would suggest.
At the plate he’s always drawn walks at a solid clip in the minors. He’s shown pop in the past. And this past year his strikeout rate dropped to a good rate. If he’s able to find a little bit of the pop that he lost in 2021 and maintain the strikeout rate he had and combine that with the defense he could potentially be a solid bench player/utility man.