Feature Photo: Deivi Grullon, C, Phillies
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth edition of a multi-part series on this year’s Major League Baseball Rule 5 Draft, to be held Thursday, December 13 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. For basic information on how the Rule 5 Draft works, you can click here. Previous installments of our Rule 5 Draft series are below:
TOP OF THE CROP
Deivi Grullon, C, Philadelphia Phillies
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 180 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 1m
Grullon is an above-average defensive catcher, specializing in game calling, blocking, and receiving. His strong glovework and offensive showing with Double-A Reading last year make Grullon one of the top catching targets available in the Rule 5. He bopped 21 homeruns in 2018, easily a career high. That said, Grullon’s fringy batspeed and limited track record of hitting make scouts skeptical that he’ll have value at the plate against big league pitching. His ability to serve as a backup catcher will put him on team’s radar this December.
Pereda has moved slowly through Chicago’s system, coming off his best season as a pro in 2018 in the Carolina League (.272/.347/.363). He’s a lock to stick behind the plate, a 60-grade throwing arm helping that defensive projection. Pereda has ha bit more offensive upside than other catchers on this list, but it’s still unlikely he hits enough to profile as a regular. He performed better than other Rule 5 eligible catchers in Fall League and is a comparable defender, meaning Pereda might be a bit more likely to hear his name called this December.
Coincidentally, the O’s acquired Cervenka in last year’s Rule 5, though in the AAA Phase. He’s the best offensive catcher on this list, more physical than others with raw power that comes into games. That said, Cervenka’s hit tool lags behind the power, and he’s average (at best) defensively. He’s an older and more experienced option than other available backstops in this year’s Rule 5 class, but the ceiling is lower and he might wind up more of a true 4A type.
Sanchez fits the standard mold for a Rule 5 catching target: fairly young with a plus glove and questionable offensive potential. He has not played against high-minors competition, splitting 2018 between two A-Ball levels. Scouts got a good look at Sanchez in the Fall League, though his .401 OPS with Scottsdale doesn’t give much hope offensive improvements are on the way. He has Rule 5 value to a team because his glove could hold its own in a backup role.
Sorted alphabetically by MLB organization
Austin Rei, C, Boston Red Sox
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 185 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 25y, 5m
Rei was such an advanced defensive catcher the Red Sox took him in 2015’s third round out of the University of Washington. He hasn’t developed much at the plate at all and should be viewed as a glove-only option. His defense and prospect notoriety could interest teams this December.
Roldani Baldwin, C, Boston Red Sox
Ht/Wt: 5’11” / 175 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: A+ Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 0m
Boston had high hopes for Baldwin after an enthusing .274/.310/.489 performance for Greenville in 2017. He sputtered this season in the Carolina League, hitting .233/.282/.371 despite tools that get scouts’ attention. He’s an athletic backstop with above-average arm-strength and raw power, though his lack of success last year–without any high-minors experience–makes it unlikely a team would pick Baldwin over another available catching option this December.
Clementina’s youth and power potential make him an interesting Rule 5 target, though his questionable defensive profile and lack of high-minors experience work against him. He is yet to reach even Advanced A, having spent all of last season in the Midwest League with Dayton. A thick, portly slugger, Clementina has above-average raw power and mashed 18 homers last year–accompanied by plenty of whiffs as well. He’s a below-average defender with work to do to remain behind the plate. Cincinnati likely would have protected Clementina if there was more belief he was actually going to catch long-term, so he’s likely being viewed as a first baseman by other clubs as well.
Dom Nunez, C, Colorado Rockies
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 175 lbs. B/T: L/R Highest Level: AA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 24y, 2m
Originally drafted as a 3B out of high school, Nunez took to catching with aplomb and has become a glove-first backstop. He could hold his own defensively in the Major Leagues right now but would bring negative value with the bat, as his offense has stalled mightily each of the last two seasons at Double-A.
Donny Sands, C, New York Yankees
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 175 lbs. B/T: L/R Highest Level: A+ Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 10m
Sands was 19-years-old by June 5th of the year he signed his first pro contract in 2015, so he’s eligible a year earlier than most high school players picked that year. The Yankees converted him to catcher after signing, where his physical frame and bulldog mentality translated well to the pro game. Scouts like the strength and power potential in Sands’ frame, but that hasn’t fully shown up in games and he missed most of 2018 with injury. There are some tools here, but he’s likely too unproven to merit a Rule 5 pick in the Major League Phase.