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Rays add two, lose seven in 2020 Rule 5 draft

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Baseball’s annual reshuffling in the minors had the Tampa Bay system playing a big part.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays-Media Day Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 Rule 5 draft has come and gone, so naturally we waited nearly five days to write about it in order to fully collect ourselves after the extravagance of the Slack held event that capped off the virtual Winter Meetings.

The Rays were among the most heavily pilfered teams across the game as they had seven players selected from their system, tying them with the New York Yankees. The Los Angeles Dodgers lost the most players in the draft, with eight players in all being drafted.

Tampa Bay only lost one of their seven players during the Major League phase of the draft, where players taken must stay in the majors or be returned in the following season, with the Miami Marlins selecting RHP Paul Campbell. The 25-year old pitcher has some promising tools on the mound and has a chance to remain in the big leagues for Miami during the 2021 season.

Campbell, the Rays’ 21st-round pick in 2017 out of Clemson, has a 92-94 mph fastball with the types of high spin rates coveted by analytics departments. He complements the fastball with an above-average changeup and cutter and a fringy curveball. The whole package is enhanced by above-average control.
- Baseball America

The remaining six players taken from the Rays all came during the minor league phases of the draft, with team losing LHP Matt Krook (Yankees), 2B Amador Arias (Mariners), RHP Nicholas Padilla (Cubs), RHP Jhonleider Salinas (Twins), RHP Roimer Bolivar (Dodgers), and RHP Justin Marsden (Rangers).

However, it wasn’t all give for the Tampa Bay Rays as they also took a couple of players during the draft.

During the first round of the minor league phase, the Rays selected RHP Jordan Brink from the St Louis Cardinals and then later on, the Rays selected RHP Ezequiel Zabaleta from the New York Mets.

Brink is the name of note. During their review of the draft, Baseball America highlighted the Rays selection of Brink as one of the six intriguing picks from the minor league phase of the draft.

Brink has completely reworked his delivery, turning himself into a 95-98 mph reliever with good feel to spin a breaking ball. In affiliated ball Brink has yet to throw a pitch in a full-season league, but he’ll be 27 next year, so expect to see him get a chance to show he can attack hitters much closer to the majors in 2021.
- Baseball America

Zabaleta is not a widely known name, but our sister site Amazin’ Avenue had this to say of the pitcher:

Signed as international free agent by the Mets on May 4, 2015, at the advanced age of 19, Ezequiel Zabaleta barely pitched that year and instead cut his teeth as a professional in 2016, pitching for the DSL and GCL Mets. In 2017, the right-hander pitched with the Kingsport Mets; in 2018, he pitched for the Brooklyn Cyclones and the St. Lucie Mets; in 2019, he pitched for the Columbia Fireflies and the St. Lucie Mets.

Zabaleta throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot, with a high-effort delivery. His fastball sits in the sits in the low-to-mid-90s, and he complements the pitch with a low-80s slider and a low-to-mid-80s changeup.

With the Rule 5 draft in the rear view mirror, the next important day in the baseball schedule won’t come until the calendar flips to 2021, when on January 15th, teams will file their contract offerings for all arbitration eligible players, to decide whether or not they’ll go into an arbitration hearing to decide their 2021 contract amount.