Now that the dust has settled on the 40-man roster, we can see which prospects the Rays left exposed to other teams in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
The Rays have lost three prospects to the Rule 5 draft in the last two off-seasons. To be kept by the new team, the prospect must remain on the 25-man roster for the entire season; otherwise, they are returned to their original club.
Each available Rays player below is assigned a risk rating as to the likelihood a team would target them as a possible addition to their major league roster.
RHP Yonny Chirinos - High Risk
The 22-year old right handed pitcher was aggressively promoted after starting the season in Bowling Green (A) and saw significant time at Port Charlotte (A+) and Montgomery (AA). He pitched 129.1 innings in 29 appearances including 17 starts with a 3.41 ERA and an over the top delivery. He was building off a professional high of 79.1 innings in 2015, so his move to shorter outings out of the pen to close the season was likely a strategic move to limit his innings. He doesn’t strike out a lot of batters (15.5%), but he doesn’t walk many batters either (3.0%).
OF Johnny Field - High Risk
The soon to be 25-year old outfielder out of the University of Arizona can play anywhere in the outfield. In time split between AA and AAA he hit .273/.322/.453 and 121 wRC+ with 12 homers and 18 stolen bases. Field is likely to stick somewhere as a fourth or fifth outfielder that hits left handed pitching. In 2016 he hit .321/.374/.482 in 123 PA against left handed pitchers, southpaws who were likely advanced arms.
SS Jake Hager - Low Risk
The former first round pick from 2011 is a 50-grade defender but has shown a complete inability to hit thus far (not that a poor bat has stopped him from advancing up the minor league ranks). The 23-year old shortstop was promoted to Durham this season, boasting a 76 wRC+ in Double-A, followed by a 64 wRC+ in Triple-A. He’s a right handed bat with some pop, but not much else. He’s a reasonable defender for any national league team struggling with infield depth.
You can watch Field a Hager go back-to-back in this video:
RHP Andrew Kittredge - Medium Risk
Acquired in a trade last Friday night, the 26-year old reliever split the 2016 season between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma, going 3-3 with a 3.50 ERA (72-IP, 28-ER) and seven saves in 37 appearances (five starts). He was signed by the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent following the 2011 June Draft and is 16-12 with a 4.49 ERA (342.2-IP, 171-ER) in six minor league seasons with Seattle. It's unclear at this time if he would be selected in the Rule 5 draft.
LHP Chris Kirsch - Medium Risk
The soon to be 25-year old left handed pitcher was the Rays 2012 14th round pick out of Lackawanna College (Scranton, Pennsylvania). Kirsch threw 145.1 innings over 25 starts for Montgomery (AA). His 18.5% strikeout rate and 9.2% walk rate aren’t special, but they aren’t bad either, and a southpaw is always useful.
1B Patrick Leonard - Medium Risk
Infield prospect Patrick Leonard was acquired as the lowest level prospect in the James Shields trade that sent future All-Star Wil Myers, rotation stalwart Jake Odorizzi, and World Series closing Mike Montgomery to the Rays. Like the other pieces acquired, he too looks to have a major league projection.
Always on the periphery of the Top-30 prospect lists, the 24-year old Leonard boasted a 136 wRC+ in 304 games in Double-A last season before struggling with a mid-season promotion. A neat arm with some raw power, he’s more of a line drive hitter that could be the short side of a platoon, if the role suits him.
C Mike Marjama - Low Risk
In 2014 the Rays acquired the 27-year old former Cal State - Long Beach catcher for cash considerations from the White Sox. He hit .288/.341/.442 and 127 wRC+ in AA. He’s old for the level or the minors in general, but he’s a catcher.
RHP Michael Santos - High Risk
Acquired from the Giants in the Matt Moore trade this season, the 21-year old Dominican A-baller boasts a full arsenal of capable major league pitches in his plus fastball, projectable curveball and slider, and his move-along change up.
He is expected to add strength to his frame with development, and will likely need protecting on the 40-man next year. This off-season, he wouldn’t be a terrible choice for a team to stash in the bullpen with sights set on his future role in a rotation.
INF Andrew Velazquez - Low Risk
The 22-year old middle infielder was one of two pieces the Rays received from the Diamondbacks in the Jeremy Hellickson deal during the winter of 2014. In 2016 he repeated at his minor league level, but the results went backwards. He hit .262/.313/.308 and 84 wRC+ with one homer and eleven steals. He’s not expected to be taken, but after the Diamondbacks took Oscar Hernandez before even reaching A+, it would seem that some team could take him and use him on the bench as a utility infielder if they trust in his long term development.