The San Diego Padres sent a message when they decided to protect outfielder Jorge Ona from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
Ona, by resume, was certainly someone who should have been protected, but there are question marks behind Ona the player.
What’s interesting about protecting Ona was that the Padres had a similar decision with Franmil Reyes in 2017.
Reyes was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft that year but had a wrist injury that ended his season early.
The Padres gambled that no one would draft the big-hitting outfielder who had reached Double-A.
The gamble paid off.
In 2018, Reyes was fully healed and went on a tear at Triple-A El Paso and was promoted to the big leagues.
Once there full-time, Reyes hit 16 home runs in 87 games to go with a .280 average.
He continued to rake in 2019 for the Padres until he was traded mid-season in a three-way deal with the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds that netted prospect Taylor Trammell.
He’s been beset by injuries so far as a Padre farmhand, having never played more than 107 games in a season.
Ona had been a fixture in the Padres Top 30 prospect list until most recently when he fell off the grid.
Last season, however, Ona was on the verge of a breakthrough when he was promoted to Double-A Amarillo and hit .348 with 5 home runs and 18 RBI in 25 games. He also had an OBP of .417 and OPS of .957.
But his season was cut short by a shoulder injury that required surgery.
San Diego decided to drop left-handed-hitting Nick Martini to make room for Ona.
Ruiz, an infielder, is their 18th ranked prospect while Reed ranks 25th. Of those exposed, only Gettys and McGill had reached Triple-A.
Ruiz had only advanced to High-A Lake Elsinore and Reed at Double-A Amarillo.
Since any team drafting a player in the Rule 5 Draft needs to keep that player on their Major League roster for the entire season, it’s not likely that Ruiz gets picked up.
Gettys had a big season at El Paso (didn’t everyone?) and could be selected, as could McGill.
Whether Reed or Valdez gets chosen is a toss-up, although Valdez has a big arm that a team may want to take a chance on.
But one thing is for certain, the Padres see something special and Ona — enough to protect him ahead of all those guys.