Thursday, November 20, 2014

Some Thoughts on Astros Protected Players and the Rule 5 Draft

[UPDATE: Well, Astros front office weirdness rears its head again after I went to bed early and missed all the fun. I'm not necessarily buying the circuitous logic and explanation behind the way things went down, but they did the right thing in protecting Michael Feliz, albeit at the last minute. He would have been drafted and taking the chance that he wouldn't stick was a big one to take.]

Just some quick thoughts about the players that were and weren't protected on the 40-man roster by the Astros in advance of the Rule 5 draft on December 11th:

RHP Vince Velasquez needed to be protected, and was. As I wrote in my earlier post on this subject, if Velasquez can stay healthy during 2015, he could very well be a September call-up, but in any event, he should be challenging for a 25-man roster spot out of Spring Training in 2016. IF HE STAYS HEALTHY.

IF Ronald Torreyes had a tremendous season at AAA and does have a great deal of versatility. The Astros see him as major-league ready and I would agree with that. However, I would not have protected him (as the Astros did) instead of protecting Michael Feliz. Torreyes' best position is second base, a position currently occupied by a certain Silver Slugger winner.

[UPDATE: FELIZ IS NOW PROTECTED.] Which brings us to RHP Michael Feliz. I know what the front office is thinking, "Yeah, he'll probably get drafted, but going from Low A to the major leagues is an awfully big step. I don't think he'll stick." I tend to agree with them, but if he does stick with the drafting team, this front office could end up being the one that lost the right-handed Johan Santana in the Rule 5 Draft (just as another Astros front office lost Santana himself). I'm not sure that I would have the stomach to make that decision. I had a little back-and-forth with John Manuel of Baseball America and, after I said that I wasn't as sure as he was that Feliz would stick with a team, he had this to say:

Yes, but ouch. Agreed. But ouch.

And I think that we have likely seen the last of LHP Tommy Shirley. He could fill a bullpen spot at the major league level immediately. When he was moved to the bullpen in Oklahoma City at the end of the season, he did extremely well. And he's not just a LOOGY. He can handle right-handed hitters equally well. I hope I'm wrong about Shirley because I really like his upside.

Others are concerned about OF Delino DeShields. I think that was another calculated risk based on his level of readiness for the majors and the number of outfielders at the high levels of the Astros farm system. I personally don't think he's ready for the major leagues right now and isn't likely to stick. Next year at this time, the story will likely be different.

C Roberto Pena has been mentioned as well. Jeff Luhnow told me last year that catchers are never drafted. That was before Adrian Neito was drafted by the White Sox and ended up sticking with them last season. I am somewhat worried about Pena now because he is such an elite defender.

Here is my post with some of the other players who are now at risk (assuming that there are no further changes before the deadline). Keep one thing in mind when looking at this. Every other team is also fighting with roster numbers and trying to keep flexibility in case the right free agent or trade comes along. Yes, the Astros will probably lose someone this year, but they aren't going to lose every one of these players. Other teams are as anxious to protect their players as the Astros are. Everyone is calculating the risks involved.


  1. Velasquez and Feliz being protected was no surprise, although it was surprising they waited until the last hour to protect Feliz. Torreyes was a surprise. I thought Shirley or DDJ would have been protected instead. I think as you do that Shirley will be snatched up by someone.

  2. As pointed out by Jayne, DDJ isn't ready for the Majors yet. He has hit by scouts for his lack of effort at two levels (High-A and Double A). He needs to fix that first before he will be taken seriously.

    1. I was thinking along the lines of ceiling, which is pretty high if he stays disciplined. He played really well at high A....but agree he needs to put it together at AA. He is the type of player that, if he has an outstanding season at AA, could make the leap to the majors. His speed alone might do the trick. I think I am convincing myself that he should not have been protected this year, but he does have tremendous talent.