The Rule 5 draft took place on Wednesday afternoon. The Cincinnati Reds did not make a selection in the big league version of the Rule 5 draft and they also didn’t lose any players. They were quite active in the minor league version of the draft, though, selecting four different players and losing one.

Cincinnati lost Donovan Antonia to the New York Mets in the 1st round of the minor league phase. The now 20-year-old outfielder put up an .869 OPS in Arizona in 2022 as an 18-year-old. Last season he began the year back in Arizona and in nine games put up an OPS of 1.262 and was promoted up to Daytona in July. He got out to a hot start there, too, hitting .429/.529/.571 in the first six games. But after that he went into a slump the rest of the way in limited playing time. In the final 19 games he played over the next two months he went 5-34 (.147), giving him a line of .213/.339/.319 with the Tortugas in 24 games.

The Reds added several players to help them fill out rosters in the 2024 season. It’s at this point that we should note that unlike the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft where a player must stick on a 26-man roster or be returned to their original team, that does not apply to the minor league version. A player is not required to spend any time on a given levels roster and they do not have to be returned. Once selected they are in the other organization moving forward.

Cincinnati selected left-handed pitcher T.J. Sikkema with their first round pick. The 25-year-old spent his entire season in Double-A with the Kansas City Royals organization. Used as a reliever for the first time in his career, he struggled a bit, posting a 5.85 ERA in 72.1 innings pitched across 34 relief appearances. That also came along with 39 walks and 63 strikeouts, but the splits with that was interesting. Despite being a lefty, he has 21 walks and just 19 strikeouts against left-handed hitters. Lefties still had a lower OPS against him than righties did by 79 points, but he wasn’t exactly reliable against lefties in 2023. You can see his career stats here.

The Reds used their next pick to take outfielder Alexander Ovalles from the Tampa Bay Rays. The now 23-year-old struggled in 2023, but hit well in 2022. His 2023 campaign began in Double-A Montgomery and he got out to a slow start, hitting .228/.344/.279 through May 12th. In that game on May 12th he singled to the wall but injured his hamstring rounding 1st base and left the game. He would miss the next three-and-a-half months before returning  to Montgomery on August 24th. Ovalles only played in eight games after returning, going 3-26 (.115). You can get his career stats here.

With their next pick the team picked up 28-year-old Levi Jordan (pictured above). The infielder spent most of his season playing shortstop, but did see action at second and third as well. In Double-A Tennessee he played in 45 games and hit .235/.371/.288. In 22 games with Triple-A Iowa he hit just .179/.295/.358. He did steal 14 bases in 15 attempts during the season. You can see his career stats here.

Cincinnati used their final pick to select Brock Bell from the Boston Red Sox. Originally drafted in 2019, Bell missed the 2020 season along with all other minor leaguers, but he also missed the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The right-handed pitcher had Tommy John surgery in college, and then in 2021 he had a UCL revision that kept him out for that season and the next one. He entered 2023 as a 25-year-old with 29.1 professional innings under his belt. Bell began the season in Single-A Salem and was promoted to High-A Greeneville at the end of May. Over his first 13 games in the year he had an ERA of 5.40 with six walks and 18 strikeouts in 23.1 innings. After that he really put together a strong showing, posting a 1.93 ERA in his final 22 games. That span of games saw him throw 32.2 innings with eight walks and 32 strikeouts while holing hitters to a .505 OPS. He’s the brother of former Reds prospect Brantley Bell, and son of former big leaguer Jay Bell. You can get his full stats here.

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23 Responses

  1. Matt

    Sikemma and Jordan feel like players to feel organizational needs. Ovalles and Bell could be interesting if the former can return to 2022 form with health, and if the latter can continue his strong finish to 23.

    • MK

      Sikemma was a Yankees first round draft pick so he has to have some tools. He was involved with the trade that sent Benetendi to the Yankees.

  2. DaveCT

    Dilemma was the current #16 prospect in the KC system (BA). He fits a bulldog type of mound profile and had the following tools rating by them too: Scouting Grades Fastball: 50. Slider: 55. Changeup: 50. Control: 55. I see this as a scouting based selection more than roster filler. Same with the Bell selection. I usually don’t get very excited about Rule 5 picks in the minor league phase. But these seem more savvy to me. And, given the success of the scouting involved in recent trades, I’m impressed.

  3. MK

    When Antonia was announced by the Mets, they announced him as a catcher. Looking at his stats I don’t think he ever caught as a pro.

    • DaveCT

      Same. Zero games. He was signed out of Curacao as a catcher in his transactions history. Wonder is the Mets depth at catcher is hurting so much they want to convert him back?

  4. Mauired

    Sikemma was a nice up and coming pitching prospect with the Yankees a couple years ago and was in the Andrew Binintendi package. Surprised to see he fell off so much so fast but maybe Reds can get a nice bullpen arm.

  5. Mauired

    Just read Sikemma was also taken 38th in the draft with a pick sent to NY from Reds for Sonny Gray. Guess Reds really wanted that pick back.

    • DaveCT

      That’s cool. Thanks.

      One other tidbit. The RH reliever, Bell, waxsigned for 435,000 at a 7th rounder. That was the 2nd highest signing bonus in rounds 3-10 for Boston that year.

  6. Tom

    Candelario to the Reds to play 1b/3b could mean Marte to AAA to allow time to heal as well as develop a little further. I don’t think they’ll do well to yo-yo him once he’s up the next time, however. Keep him up and play him.

    Otherwise, we could also be looking at McClain and/or EDLC to CF occasionally.

    Or just incredible depth and matchup potential. It could be a top 15 offense next year if we keep all the depth and create various matchup problems for opposing pitchers.

    Personally, I don’t love the trade route for the Reds, even now, unless it’s a change of scenery type trade like Barrero. Maybe there is a Sonny Gray for Shed Long type of deal out there?

    Sounds like Glasnow and Cease (who is literally Mr. Reds’ human avatar) are very expensive prospect wise. Go get Stroman or Wacha or Clevenger on a 2-3 year deal and keep your prospect capital / depth. A+ offseason.

    • Andrew

      If the Jeimar signing isn’t a precursor to another trade, I’m a little baffled. Unless they intend to move Elly to CF, the infield is an absolute glut. Personally, I’d love to see the reds go for Arozenena

      • Tom

        Stroman has a better FIP the last 3 years than Cease, who had an outlier season in 2022. I am just not comfortable with him. He’s lost velo as well. Adding talent is still needed. Removing talent in exchange for adding talent feels like moving sideways on average.

      • Tom

        My offer for Cease would be
        Arroyo
        Phillips
        Petty
        Hinds
        I could live with that because all 4 of those players have some question marks that probably the risk.

        On Doug’s baseball trade calculator that would be an overpay for the Reds by about 10 points.

      • JaxDan

        @Tom

        Either Petty OR Connors but not both. Replace the 2nd pitcher with Mey or someone similar. I would try to get a 3rd year out of Clease.

  7. Patrick

    With this signing if I were the Reds I would put EDLC on the trade Market maybe get some Jaun Soto like interest from teams. EDLC still has lots of shine on him but he has the biggest liability of any of our young talent very weak hit tool (plate discipline and weak contact rate). I believe trade value is higher than on field value.

    Would an EDLC plus a couple of pitchers for Glasnow, Arozarena and 2 prospects deal work.

    • Jonathan

      @packrick – heck no on trading EDLC. I would trade Single A or AA prospects for Glasnow, Arozarena – even if it takes 4-6 of them and maybe Conner Phillips or

  8. Optimist

    Sikkema and Bell acquisitions are interesting. A different Bell family, but an MLB link.

    Still, lots of recent down for each of them, so if there’s a 6 month restoration period, it could make for interesting AAAA/MLB relief help.

  9. Kevin Fox

    Could another trade be coming after signing Jeimer Candelario. Maybe a Noelvi Marte packaged with some other minor league players for Shane Bieber, Dylan Cease, or Tyler Glasnow.

  10. TMS

    I have heard the adage, “You have to give up something in order to get something,” when it comes to trading your top prospects. My issue is that I am not sold on ANY of the trade targets (Cease, Bieber, Glasnow). Granted, prospects haven’t proven anything and may end up being huge busts, but virtually every above average player in baseball begins as a prospect.

    I get real nervous when folks start talking about trading guys like Marte and Arroyo for “name recognition” pitchers who I really have doubts about. And I am perplexed that folks are willing to trade pitching prospects like Phillips or Petty, who could be fairly decent additions to the Reds rotation for several years beginning in 2025, long after Bieber and Glasnow are gone, and Cease is traded as a rental player.

    I am not against trading prospects in the right deal. However, I don’t see any “Luis Castillo” level talent being discussed here.

    • Tom

      I don’t prefer the trade route at all. My offer above, which included the players you mentioned, would be my best offer and was built to secure the trade with an overpay. It was also based on what rumors are circulating about the asking price for Cease. And, as I mentioned, those are 4 players that I feel have some more risk and might be worth trading now. I’m just as happy to see them patiently develop here and contribute even at their respective floors (Arroyo = glove first SS, Phillips = 8th inning high leverage, Petty = 5th starter/LR, Hinds = platoon/DH)

      I agree that Cease, Glasnow and Bieber are all somewhat questionable “ace” types at this point. Their average rWAR is 2. Hardly feels like it would be worth giving up more than 1 top prospect for. Each feels like their best showings may have already come. Castillo was a stronger and more consistent player by far. Minnesota got a heck of a deal for 2 years of Sonny Gray, who was a 3-5 WAR player leading up to the trade. That was a salary relief deal in the saddest sense.

      Hopefully Krall is anchoring his offers in the right reality and avoids an overpay. I would hate an overpay.

    • Tom

      I guess within the format laid out with Sonny Gray, Glasnow makes the most sense. We take on 25 million in salary relief for TB, get 1 year of a 2 rWAR pitcher, and they get a 13-16 range prospect like Lyon Richardson and maybe add in 1 or 2 20-40 range prospects. I think the Reds world would celebrate that. But I still go back to preferring they sign a player like Giolito, Wacha, Manaea, etc for less than 25 mil per year but for 1-3 years and keep the players we have. That is adding talent.

    • BK

      @TMS, I agree. The names floating around as trade candidates should only be acquired if the return is commensurate with their risk and limited control. The free agent market still has multiple quality options. That’s where the Reds should be shopping. I want the Reds to add talent not swap talent.