The San Diego Padres have a lot to take care of regarding their young roster. Is the Rule 5 draft a means by which to strengthen the team for 2017 and beyond?
The Rule 5 draft is in just a few hours, as the winter meetings come to a close. The San Diego Padres will pick third, giving them an opportunity to secure a solid prospect who can be immediately influential at the major league level.
With currently the smallest roster in baseball, the Padres have seven spots to fill. This underscores the need to have a successful Rule 5 draft, as difficult as that may be.
A draft like this is extremely unpredictable. General manager A.J. Preller and his staff have most certainly done loads of advanced scouting on all of their potential options. There is no such thing as a “surprise pick” in this event.
However, there are three players who especially stand out and could easily be taken third overall.
Kevin Ziomek is the 11th ranked prospect in the Detroit Tigers organization. Though he just completed surgery, the 24-year-old has plenty of upside. The Padres shouldn’t overlook Ziomek just because he hasn’t advanced beyond high-A. With the need for bullpen help, this southpaw can play a role.
Another player for San Diego to consider is Jordan Guerrero. As another left-hander, Guerrero can be placed in the bullpen. Coming off of his first full season at AA, there are questions as to whether or not the 22-year-old is big league ready. But with his steady improvement and consistent rise to the minors, the 10th ranked prospect in the Chicago White Sox organization is an option.
The final option for the Padres to take a serious look at is Aaron Slegers. Steadily improving to the point of being an established starter in AA in 2016, Slegers is ready to make an impact at the major league level. Ranked just 28th in the Minnesota Twins organization, the 24-year-old has the least upside of the three players on this list. However, he is the most ready for a jump to the majors. This alone is very appealing, as the Padres will eventually be looking for an inning-eater in the middle innings, given their weak rotation.
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Of course, there are requirements forcing players selected in this draft to be held on the major league roster barring injury. This makes the draft a difficult event that usually doesn’t pay off. In the past though, it has, as the Padres can attest to with Luis Perdomo.
Whether it works out or not though, the Padres must use this opportunity to try to improve their pitching staff. As a young team that isn’t going to break the bank again, they must rely on the youth that they have, as well as their chances to acquire more young talent. Since pitching is the primary need, these three players are top contenders to be the Padres’ opening selection.
The Rule 5 draft will air on MLB.com beginning at 6 a.m. PT Thursday morning. The Twins will select first, followed by the Reds, and then it will be San Diego’s turn. With seven roster spots open, this event provides an opportunity for the Padres to begin to finish off their roster for 2017. The good news is, the organization’s top 30 prospects include no players that can be selected. So for the Padres, no matter who they pick, they should end up gaining more than they lose.