NY Mets Friday Farming: Top 6 prospects to protect in the Rule 5 Draft
By Brad LaPlante
The MLB offseason is officially upon us, the GM meetings are taking place, and the deadline to protect minor leaguers from the Rule 5 Draft is on November 19. With all the buzz in the Mets’ system, who should the New York Mets be protecting?
MLB’s annual Rule 5 Draft will take place on December 8, assuming that the CBA is renewed and there’s no work stoppage. Even with this looming, it’s still business as usual in the league, and teams are going to submit their protected minor leaguers before the deadline on November 19.
The Rule 5 Draft has been pretty popular as of late since a number of those taken have had some success in the MLB. It’s worth noting that those taken are required to be placed on a team’s 40-man active roster and on the MLB team for a full season.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the Mets must place players on their 40-man roster to avoid them being sniped by teams in the Rule 5 Draft.
So who should the Mets protect in the Rule 5 Draft?
The following are non-dealbreakers to be protected this year.
Shortstop Ronny Mauricio is going to be Rule 5 eligible for the first time this year. International signees are eligible after four years of signing with a club. This one is pretty much a no-brainer.
Mauricio is the Mets’ third-overall prospect behind fellow international signee Francisco Alvarez and 2019 first-round draft pick Brett Baty. Despite signing onto ten more years of Francisco Lindor at shortstop, the Mets would be wise to keep him around.
Whether that means finding Mauricio a new position or keeping him on as DH, the Mets could seriously benefit from his potential in the next several years.
Even if Mark Vientos is not on the Mets’ long-term plans, it would be a shame to see Vientos go as a Rule 5 pick. He’s also eligible for the first time this year. Even if the Mets don’t plan on keeping either Baty or Vientos, they could either go with one as DH or move one to a new position.
They’ve tried out some different prospects in new positions, such as the outfield, for now, but even Vientos may need a long-term commitment going forward.
Outfielder Carlos Cortes is another name that will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time. The 24-year-old was taken by the Mets in the third round of the 2018 draft. He’s not a big name to many familiar with the Mets’ system, but he’s a lock, I promise.
There is still some development needed for him and he could work as a future bench bat, but he has potential. In the Arizona Fall League, he is batting .245 with three extra base hits in his fifteen games.
His skills have not translated into bigger leagues, and he’s only gone as high as Double-A Binghamton, but Cortes is worth at least hanging onto.
The following Mets prospects are worth consideration.
RHP José Butto is the club’s sixteenth-ranked prospect, but his MLB ETA could be as soon as next year. Even if it doesn’t happen, he has a lot to smile about. He ended the season with eight solid starts for Double-A Binghamton, posting an ERA of 3.12 and a WHIP under 1.05, which is impressive.
Butto seems to get hit by the longball, giving up six home runs in nine games. He’s still transitioning to higher levels and may be a solid risk for other teams.
Adam Oller, a RHP familiar with the Rule 5 Draft, is next on this list. Oller was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 20th round of the 2016 draft, but ended up with the San Francisco Giants in 2019. He was a Mets Rule 5 pick at the end of 2019 and has shown some promise.
In eight starts with Triple-A Syracuse this year, Oller had a 2.45 ERA and has some real signs of maturity. He has the upside that a 27 year-old needs to be considered a viable option and would likely be taken if the Mets do not protect him.
Hayden Senger was taken all the way back in the 24th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Amazins. Yet, the Mets put him in the Arizona Fall League this year. He didn’t perform well, only amounting to a .204 batting average. Still, maybe it showed how much development he has yet to go.
His batting average in Double-A Binghamton was .254 this year, but he seems to have come out of nowhere. Even in 2019, he was promoted out of Rookie League after just ten games when he went 14-for-35 with a home run. Even then, he was very surprising.
Senger could be making the strides he needs to make to be in the MLB within the next three years.
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In previous pieces, we’ve talked about ways for which the Mets can rebuild their dreaded farm system. Handling the Rule 5 draft should be added to that list. It would be a shame if more than one of the pieces here walked away.