With today being the deadline to add prospects to the 40-man Major League roster to protect them from selection in next month's Rule 5 Draft, the Blue Jays completed(?) #TransactionFriday by adding CF Anthony Alford, LHP Ryan Borucki, and SS Richard Urena to their reserve list. This represents the most players protected by the Jays since 2011 (the last time the deadline fell in November 18th); and yet if anything it is surprising that it was only three.
The additions of Alford and Urena were completely unsurprising, as they ranked 86th and 74th respectively on MLB Pipeline's Top most recent 100 list, and 2nd and 5th respectively on Baseball America's Blue Jays Top 10 list for 2017. To put it simply, prospects of that calibre do not go unprotected.
Borucki is a somewhat surprising addition, for the reasons I discussed earlier this week:
Borucki has missed a lot of time with injuries, including Tommy John surgery, but has been quite good when on the field. He had an awful start to 2016 in Dunedin, but dominated the Midwest League en route to being the runner-up for the ERA title. MLB Pipeline ranks him 17th, with the ceiling of a backend starter, and he's at least a couple years off. That wouldn't usually make him a candidate to be selected (and thus protected), but a team that really liked him could gamble on his advanced control and change-up sticking at the back of a bullpen next year.
Unlike some of the Rule 5-related additions the Jays have made in recent memory (Kenny Wilson comes to mind), this isn't a stretch, as Borucki has shown significant ability when healthy to project as a major league contributor. A potential path to the big league, assuming he remains healthy, would be to likely start in Dunedin next year, move to AA by mid season, and in 2018 make it to AAA and perhaps the big leagues as a September.
From his addition today, we can infer that the Blue Jays really like him and perhaps see him as closer to the majors than finishing the season at low-A would normally imply; or they think there's enough interest that he would have been selected.
What's perhaps more curious are some prospects not selected, including a pair of pitchers who generally are ranked in a similar tier to Borucki. Angel Perdomo and Francisco will be available in the Rule 5 draft, along with a few other potentially interesting names. It would not surprise me if for the first time since Brad Emaus was selected in 2010, the Blue Jays lost a player in the Rule 5 draft. Of course, whether any of them would stick is another question entirely. For every Biagini, there are a dozen players returned.