Well, the Rule 5 results are in. My overall impression of this draft this year is that I think more talented players than usual were drafted. Will any of those players stick in the majors next year? Who knows but I think it is likely than more of them than average in the Rule 5 draft will stick. One thing for sure, the top 3 guys selected, all of whom are now with the Padres, have a decent chance to stick in the majors as the Padres entered the draft with only 33 players on their major league roster. To me, along with their record this year, means that they don't have any major league ready prospects and are likely to have a bad, bad team next year, meaning lots of opportunities for minor leaguers like the three they got today to play in the majors next year. But let's talk about our team and what went on with them today.
The Indians lost more players (5) than they obtained (1) and didn't even select a player in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft (very few of those guys ever even make the majors). Let's talk about the players they did draft and have drafted.
The Indians obtained:
Hoby Milner, LHP
Opinion: The Indians are looking every place they can find for that lefty reliever. Milner was not among the top prospects for the Phillies but he did, this past year, convert to being a reliever with OK results. He was a middle reliever in college and the track record for college middle relievers making the majors is not good. The Indians must see something in him as, because Milner was selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft, he either has to stay on their roster most of the season next year or he has to be offered back to the Phillies. Time will tell if he is a legitimate LOOGY candidate or not. Looking at his numbers compared to Kyle Crockett's I don't understand this pick but I can tell you that a number of head scratchers from the Rule 5 draft in the past have turned into good major league players. That's why you have scouts!
The Indians lost:
Anthony Santander, OF
Opinion: Santander was my 31st best Indians prospect. He was 30th on MLB's list. So he is a prospect of SOME note. The good news is that Santander has to be kept on the Orioles ACTIVE 25-man roster almost all of next season as he was taken by the Orioles in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. However, the bad news there is that he apparently has an injured shoulder meaning he may miss all or part of next season. The Orioles can stash him on their 60-day DL and, when he is ready to come off, can send him on an extended rehab assignment. To put this in simple English, if the Orioles play their cards right Santander can remain with them next season because he would spend so much time on the DL and in rehab that he might not even have to play in the majors although he would STILL have to spend 2018 in the majors with the Phillies. Given his injury and his slow development path, he would likely not be trade bait and might not have helped the Indians until at least 2019, assuming he misses most of this season. If the Phillies follow the path above, it is likely he won't help the Phillies in the majors until 2020.
Trevor Frank, RHP
In the mold of JP Feiereisn, Ben Heller, Shawn Armstrong and Austin Adams, Frank is one of those college pitchers who the Indians immediately made a reliever. When healthy, he has thrived. He is 25 years old and still in A ball. However, as a reliever, he could still thrive. Frank is the kind of guy you would expect to lose in the major league portion of the Rule 5 with a chance to get him back if he doesn't still on a major league roster next spring. Unfortunately, the Indians thought so little of Frank that they didn't even protect him on their 30-player AAA reserve list. In simple English most teams have two types of prospects: those who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft (roughly 30% of all their prospects) and those who are not yet eligible for the Rule 5 draft (roughly 70% of their prospects). The prospects they put on the AAA reserve list are generally only prospects who would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft meaning that the Indians didn't consider Frank among their top 60 prospects, give or take a few. As I didn't have him ranked in my top 52, I agree. So he is a depth loss who might still make it but is not, at this point, a huge loss. Still, since he was taken in the minor league portion of the draft, he is not coming back to the Indians.
Nick Maronde, LHP
The same logic of not even being one of the top 30 Rule 5 eligible prospects in the Indians organization applies here, too. Maronde was once a top prospect for the Angels but has not produced for the Indians and is not much of a loss at this point. He was lost in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft so he isn't coming back.
Grant Sides, RHP
Like Frank, he is the classic Indians later round pick and, like Frank, obviously not highly thought of as he wasn't protected on the AAA reserve list. A college pitcher they turned into a pro reliever. He is currently 27 years old and didn't make my top 52. While he still might make the majors I don't see him having that much impact. He was lost in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 so he isn't coming back.
Jon Fitzsimmons, RHP
A guy the Indians picked up this past summer, he hadn't pitched since 2014 when the Royals released him. This is an interesting draft pick as, while he won't be coming back to the Indians as he was selected in the minor league Rule 5, he is also one of the more unlikely selections as a 25 year old who has only 10 games at low A ball.