On December 14, MLB teams will have the opportunity to vulture each others farm systems for players not protected from the Rule 5 Draft. Players who are eligible for the draft are as follows:
- Players who were signed when they were 19+ and have played in professional baseball for 4 years
- Players who were signed at 18 and have played for 5 years
This includes players in the Royals system like Ryan O’Hearn and Frank Schwindel. The way it works, teams can draft eligible players from each others farm systems, and then that player must remain on the big-league 25-man roster for the entire 2018 season, or else be returned to his original team.
Last year, RHP Glenn Sparkman was selected from the Royals organization by the Toronto Blue Jays. After a couple of dreadful big-league appearances, Sparkman was let go by Toronto and was returned to KC’s farm system. He’s once again eligible for this year’s draft.
Now that you know how the draft works, let’s go through each team’s system and look for viable hitters that are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December. If you read the article I put out yesterday regarding available pitchers, you may have been disappointed in the lack of worthy arms. Lucky for you there are plenty of hitters that I think could warrant a Rule 5 selection this winter. These are guys that I think would be worthy of a selection and roster spot for the 2018 season in Kansas City (in no particular order).
1.) Charcer Burks, OF, Chicago Cubs
Drafting Charcer Burks would excite me as a Royals fan. Last year at AA Burks slashed .270/.370/.395/.765 with 10 HR and 16 SB in 456 AB. Burks will spend the 2018 season as a 23-year old, and looks really promising as a young outfielder. In 2016, Burks won a Gold Glove award in the Carolina League (High-A) for his efforts in LF.
This pick would make some sense for the Royals. I don’t know if Burks is capable of playing CF, but Alex Gordon is. If the Royals decide that they’re comfortable giving Burks regular big-league at bats next year (he’s never played at AAA), he could be an interesting piece to the puzzle with Alex Gordon and the Jorge’s in the KC outfield next year. He’d also probably start the year as a top 20 prospect in the Royals organization.
2.) Jason Martin, OF, Houston Astros
Another 22-year old LF from AA, Jason Martin would be another exciting draft pick for Kansas City. Martin opened the 2017 campaign destroying the pitcher-friendly Carolina League. In 174 AB, Martin was slashing .287/.354/.494/.848 with 7 HR and 9 SB before promptly being promoted to AA. Once he arrived in AA, Martin finished the season slashing .273/.319/.483/.802 with 11 HR and 7 SB in 300 AB.
Martin is a bit of a different player than Burks, in that he hits for more power but isn’t on base quite as often. Martin does own a career .345 OBP in the minor leagues but hat dwindled a bit in AA last year, as his walk rate declined to 5.9% after being in double digits for almost all of his career.
This is to be expected some from a young slugger at AA. AA pitchers are more refined than A-ball pitchers and the jump from High-A to AA is one of toughest in all of minor league baseball. If the Royals decide that Martin is capable of handling big-league pitching, he too would be a very exciting Rule 5 pick this winter. He’d also probably open the 2018 campaign in the Royals top 20 prospect list.
3.) Jon Kemmer, OF, Houston Astros
In what would be more of a “win now” move, Kemmer destroyed AAA pitching last year. Slashing .299/.399/.533/.932 with 16 HR in 304 AB. Kemmer is a guy that KC could immediately plug-and-play in LF in 2018. He’s not much of a prospect anymore, as he just turned 27, but he’s a guy who could deepen a lineup for the Royals in 2018 and help them compete a bit if they do indeed decide to rebuild. Or, he could also net you a nice piece at the trade deadline in July if he’s hitting the ball well.
4. John Norwood, OF, Miami Marlins
Yet another intriguing outfielder, Norwood will be 25 for most of the 2018 season and destroyed AA pitching last season. In 473 AA at bats, Norwood slashed .285/.367/.459/.826 with 19 HR. Norwood’s walk rate has increased every season that he’s been in minor league baseball, and he’s a guy that could potentially be selected if the Royals feel like he’s ready for big-league pitching.
5.) Chuck Taylor, OF, Seattle Mariners
Yet another mid-20’s AA outfielder, Taylor slashed .274/.369/.397/.766 with 9 HR in 471 AB last season. He’ll be 24 for much of the 2018 season, and could be an interesting pick for KC. Not my favorite choice, but a possibility nonetheless.
6.) Jayce Boyd, OF, New York Mets
Yes, another outfielder, this time from AAA. Boyd had a really nice season in 2017, slashing .297/.371/.512/.883 with 11 HR in 246 AB. Boyd missed some time during the season but hammered the baseball when available. Boyd is a guy much like the aforementioned Kemmer, where KC could plug-and-play him in LF immediately to begin 2018. Again, like Kemmer, Boyd will be 27 for all of the 2018 season so much of his prospect value is gone, but he could be an intriguing option for KC if he’s still available.
7.) Mike Ford, 1B, New York Yankees
It looks more and more likely that Eric Hosmer will end up signing elsewhere this offseason. Should this happen, Ford could be a guy that steps in and immediately takes over for Kansas City at 1B.
Last season between AA and AAA, Ford slashed .270/.404/.471/.875 with 20 HR and 24 2B in 429 AB. The number that sticks out the most here is Ford’s ridiculous OBP. Listen to this, at AA last season, Ford’s K% and BB% were 13.4% and 18.2%, respectively. At AAA, those numbers were 13.9% and 15.7%, respectively. Ford has shown an advanced eye at the plate that the Royals could use in their lineup regardless of the direction they take this offseason.
Ford will turn 26 in the middle of the 2018 season, so he doesn’t have much prospect value left, but he could be an effective piece in the Royals lineup next year.
I would welcome all seven of these dudes in KC with open arms. My personal favorite selection would be Charcer Burks, but Jason Martin would be a close second. Both of those guys would instantly become top 20 prospects in the Royals organization and could help speed up the rebuild immensely. Keep your eyes open for updates on Thursday during the 2017 Rule 5 Draft.