The Boston Red Sox didn’t make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft but also didn’t lose any prospects left unprotected in the major league portion of the draft.
Despite an opening on their 40-man roster, the Boston Red Sox passed on filling it with a selection in the Rule 5 Draft.
As a quick refresher, the Rule 5 Draft allows any team without a full 40-man roster to select players from other organizations who aren’t on a 40-man roster. Only players with at least five years of professional experience (or four years if they signed after turning 19 years old) are eligible to be selected. Drafted players must spend the entire next season on their new club’s major league roster or disabled list, otherwise, they must be offered back to their original team.
The Red Sox currently have 39 players on their roster but that final spot is reserved for a reliever to fill the void left by the free agent departure of Joe Kelly or perhaps to fill the closer role in the increasingly likely event that Craig Kimbrel follows him out of town. The Rule 5 draft isn’t the place to find an immediate solution for a closer or high-leverage setup man.
Passing on making a selection was expected, as it would have prevented the Red Sox from making another free agent signing unless they bumped someone else from their 40-man roster. Clearly, the team values the 39 players they have over anyone available in this draft.
The Red Sox also didn’t lose any prospects in the major league portion of the draft. There was some concern that Josh Ockimey, the club’s No. 10 prospect, or Austin Maddox, who impressed in a brief 2017 call-up, could be snatched up by another team. Thankfully, both will remain in the organization so the decision to leave them unprotected didn’t backfire.
Only 14 players were selected in the major league phase of the draft, with the San Francisco Giants being the only team to poach multiple players. None of the teams that made a selection in this phase made the postseason in 2018.
There is also a portion of the Rule 5 draft that allows Triple-A clubs to select eligible players from other minor league systems. These selections do not need to be added to the 40-man roster and don’t need to be returned to their original team if they don’t spend the full season at that level.
Outfielder Tyler Hill was a Red Sox casualty in this portion of the draft. The Detroit Tigers selected him with the fourth pick in the first round of the Triple-A phase. However, they offset the loss by selecting right-handed pitchers Anyelo Gomez from the Yankees with the 25th pick and Andrew Schwaab from the Tigers with the 36th pick.
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Hill spent the 2018 season with High-A Salem. The 22-year old hit .254/.348/.312 with, 20 doubles, one home run, 38 RBI, and 27 steals in 124 games. He tallied nine homers and swiped 42 bags for the Greenville Drive the previous season, suggesting a higher ceiling as a power-speed threat, but Hill wasn’t able to translate either skill nearly as well at the next level.
Gomez appeared briefly with the Yankees Triple-A affiliate this year, allowing two earned runs with eight strikeouts and three walks over 7 1/3 innings of relief. The 25-year old posted a 2.45 ERA and 10.6 K/9 with Double-A Trenton the previous year and produced similar results (2.95 ERA, 10.3 K/9) in the Dominican Winter League between those two seasons.
Schwaab is coming off a poor season in which he posted a 5.37 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 52 innings split between High-A and Double-A. He began the year in the Yankees’ system and finished up the season with 7 2/3 innings pitching for the Tigers’ Double-A affiliate.
This year’s Rule 5 draft is unlikely to have any ramifications on next year’s Red Sox roster. The minor league players they selected may never make it to the big leagues but there’s nothing wrong with adding depth to the organization. You never know when a change of scenery could turn a potential lottery ticket into a winner.