The 2016 Rule Five draft took place Thursday morning, capping this year’s eventful Winter Meetings. In the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft, the Tampa Bay Rays selected a candidate for a spot in their bullpen, RHP Kevin Gadea from the Seattle Mariners. They also picked up a pair of right-handed hurlers in the minor league portion of the draft, former Yankees first-round pick Ty Hensley, who is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, and Jairo Muñoz from the Phillies.
Those unfamiliar with how the draft works, teams with open 40-man roster spots can select players with four to five years of professional experience from other organizations if that player has not been protected on the 40-man roster. The caveat: teams must carry said players on their active rosters (or the major league disabled list) throughout the entire 2016 season. A reluctance to do so would expose them to waivers, and they then would be offered back to their original club.
Here is the draft order and the number of players on the teams’ 40-man rosters, courtesy of Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com), with more on the Rays picks to follow:
1. Twins (39) – RHP Miguel Diaz, Brewers
2. Reds (38) – C Luis Torrens, Yankees
3. Padres (33) – IF Allen Cordoba, Cardinals
4. Rays (39) – RHP Kevin Gadea, Mariners
5. Braves (39) – RHP Armando Rivero, Cubs
6. A’s (40)
7. D-backs (38) – RHP Tyler Jones, Yankees
8. Phillies (40)
9. Brewers (39) – LHP Caleb Smith, Yankees
10. Angels (39) – RHP Justin Haley, Red Sox
11. Rockies (37) – pass
12. White Sox (38) – RHP Dylan Covey, Athletics
13. Pirates (38) – LHP Tyler Webb, Yankees
14. Marlins (37) – pass
15. Royals (39) – pass
16. Astros (39)
17. Yankees (39)
18. Mariners (40)
19. Cardinals (39) – pass
20. Tigers (39) – LHP Daniel Stumpf, Royals
21. Giants (40)
22. Mets (40)
23. Orioles (36) – OF Aneury Tavarez, Red Sox
24. Blue Jays (38) – RHP Glenn Sparkman, Royals
25. Dodgers (40)
26. Red Sox (39) – IF Josh Rutledge, Rockies
27. Indians (38) – LHP Hoby Milner, Indians
28. Nationals (38) – pass
29. Rangers (39) – LHP Mike Hauschild, Astros
30. Cubs (35) – pass
On Gadea, Hensley, and Muñoz
Gadea, 22, has only pitched as high as the Class-A level, however, Rays director of baseball development, Peter Bendix, believes the converted infielder has a chance to make the big jump to the major leagues.
Our scouts saw him really good and we’re excited to add him. We saw him well throughout the season. He missed a lot of bats. We think he has a chance to help us in the bullpen. We’ll take him into spring training and kind of see what we have. He’s a young guy and there’s a lot of long-term potential there.
Gadea relies primarily upon his fastball and changeup, combining to go 4-1 in 2016 with a 2.36 ERA in 15 games between the Mariners’ rookie-league squads in Arizona and Iowa (respectively). He currently is pitching for the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League, posting a 2.10 ERA in 30 innings over six starts thus far.
The Rays paid $100,000 (up from $50,000 in 2015) to take him and, as mentioned above, have to keep him in the majors all season, or offer him back to the Mariners and then put him through waivers.
As for the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft, there aren’t any requirements to keep players at any given minor league level, while the acquisition cost is $24,000. JT Morgan (DRaysBay) wrote about the two players obtained by the Rays:
Ty Hensley was the Yankees 1st round pick, number 30 overall, in the 2012 MLB draft. In the five years since being drafted he has only managed to throw 42.2 innings. The last game action he saw was in 2014 and he’s coming off two Tommy John Surgeries.
He used to throw 95 and had a plus curve ball according to this 2015 reports by Fangraphs former prospect writer Kiley McDaniel.
Hensley’s career began with a rocky start, having his bonus adjusted down from $1.6 million to $1.2 million due to a shoulder abnormality. He pitched 12 innings after signing late in 2012, then missed the 2013 season with hip surgery. He looked to be back on track with a solid 2014 in the short-season leagues, then was hospitalized after being attacked this off-season; all indications are that he’ll be ready for 2015 and should head to Low-A. Hensley finally found some consistency this year, hitting 95 mph once again and flashing the plus curveball that made him a first round pick. He’s still learning to use the changeup and the stuff is inconsistent, but he’s showing signs of turning from a thrower into a pitcher; hopefully he’ll be 100% for Spring Training.
The Rays believe they have done due diligence on his health and mental state, and believe he could be a quality prospect for the system. With the pedigree of a first round draft pick, it’s an easy decision to bring him into the fold.
Jairo Muñoz originally signed as an international free agent for $40,000 by the Kansas City Royals. He was released after the 2014 season. He was sent back home with a child on the way, but instead of leave the country as his work visa expired, he stayed with a friend in New Jersey and worked off the books at bodega. He was found by a basketball coach that notified the Phillies and they signed him.
He only threw nine innings last year, with eight being for A+ Clearwater.
The Rays only loss was 29 year-old southpaw knuckleballer Jared Mortensen, who was taken by the Houston Astros.
Jared Mortensen is 29 years old and, yes, he’s a knuckleballer. Should be interesting to watch. Perhaps at Fresno next year.
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) December 8, 2016
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 8, 2016