With the uneventful Winter Meetings wrapping up on Thursday in Las Vegas, there was still business to attend before Yankees’ management could hit the slot machines and poker tables: the Rule 5 Draft.
Although the Yankees did make a selection in the Minor League portion of the Rule 5 Draft, the organization also lost six players from today’s festivities.
For those unfamiliar with the Rule 5 Draft, there is a Major League and Triple-A phase with multiple rounds. The draft order is determined by how teams finished during the 2018 season (the Yankees had the third best record in MLB, hence the 28th selection). In order to make a pick in the Major League phase, that MLB team must have an open spot on their 40-man roster.
Any player selected in the Major League phase of the draft must stick with their new respective big league club for the entire regular season in order to have their full rights. If that player is removed from the 25-man roster for whatever reason, then he can be returned to his original team.
In the Triple-A phase of the draft, players can simply be chosen by a new team and don’t have to be returned to their original club. That new team has full ownership of that player.
The last time the Yankees made a pick in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft was in 2011 when New York chose RHP Brad Meyers from the Washington Nationals. 2018 marked the seventh consecutive year in which the organization hasn’t made a selection in the Major League phase of the draft.
However, the Yankees did make one selection in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft this year in RHP Adonis De la Cruz. The 23-year old originally played in the minors for the Seattle Mariners.
A full-time reliever, the righty spent the 2018 campaign with the Mariners’ Single-A affiliate, the Clinton LumberKing, and the 2017 season with the short-season Everett AquaSox. Check out De La Cruz’s numbers between 2017 and 2018:
2017: 18 G (0 GS), 2-2 W-L, 3.28 ERA, 35.2 IP, 38 H, 21 R (13 ER), 4.3 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
2018: 34 G (0 GS), 3-4 W-L, 4.71 ERA, 57.1 IP, 54 H, 37 R (30 ER), 3.0 BB/9, 11.8 K/9
De la Cruz clearly pitched in more games in 2018, hence giving him larger totals in innings pitched, hits, runs, earned runs, and an increased ERA. What stands out most for the righty is his decrease in BB/9 rate (-1.3) and increase in K/9 rate (+3.7). Both are extremely encouraging signs of his development.
Furthermore, the Yankees also lost six minor leaguers in the Rule 5 Draft:
RHP Nick Green (Diamondbacks)
C Chris Rabago (Royals)
RHP Gilmael Troya (Phillies)
RHP Anyelo Gomez (Red Sox)
OF Mark Payton (Athletics)
RHP Alexander Vargas (Cubs)
Out of the six players selected, only Green has the chance of being returned to the Yankees since he was selected in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Rabago, Troya, Gomez, Payton, and Vargas are officially members of their new respective organizations since they were picked in the Triple-A phase.
This was Gomez’s second time being selected in the Rule 5 Draft. The righty was picked by the Atlanta Braves last year in the Major League phase but later returned to New York.
It will certainly be interesting to monitor De la Cruz’s progress throughout the 2018 campaign. The righty is trending in the right direction for sure. Additionally, time will only tell if Green sticks with the D-Backs or is returned back to New York.
Who knows, maybe the Yankees found a diamond in the rough in De la Cruz?