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2021 Minor League Rule 5 recap

The Blue Jays organization is left a little lighter on CanCon

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

The MLB lockout and accompanying transactions freeze may have cancelled the Winter Meetings and the major league Rule 5 draft, but the minor league Rule 5 Draft went ahead yesterday. The Toronto Blue Jays ended up lighter on Canadian content, with both their losses hailing north of the border, while adding one Panamanian in turn.

Eligible player not protected on his team’s Triple-A roster could be taken for $24,500. Triple-A reserve lists can have up to 38 players, but with about 67 eligible players in the organization only a subset could or would be protected. That includes the seven minor league free agent signings to the Buffalo roster announced last week, plus Shaun Anderson who cleared waivers but is also eligible.

It’s safe to say the likes of Chavez Young, Samad Taylor, Graham Spraker, Miguel Hiraldo, Eric Pardinho, Adrian Hernandez and Elvis Luciano would have been moved to Buffalo’s reserve list as either high profile prospects or players or plausible major league Rule 5 candidates.

Add these slam dunk choices to the signees above and the seven eligibles already on the Buffalo roster (Joey Murray, Nick Allgeyer, Jackson Rees, Fitz Stadler, Kyle Johnston, Logan Warmoth, Cullen Large), and that’s already over halfway to the limit at 22.

Beyond that, surveying the list I count as many as another 20 players with at least some potential such that you wouldn’t want to expose them to other teams for the $24,500 selection cost. Clearly then, that would necessitate some choices, whereas in some previous years it would have been feasible to protect every eligible non-org type.

Thus it’s not surprising that the Jays had a couple of players taken. The first was outfielder Tanner Kirwer, their 20th round pick in the 2017 draft from Niagara University, and a native of Alberta. Seattle took him with their first round pick, and they’d have seen him at his best given his two best professional stints were with Vancouver who matches up fresquently with Everett in the Northwest League.

He had a strong start to 2021 with high-A Vancouver, though struggled when promoted to New Hampshire. Easily his best tool/skill is speed/baserunning, as he stole 43 bases in 48 attempts. There’s some on-base ability, but ultimately the reasonable upside is as an extra guy, though I’ll certainly root for him to get a big league shot at some point.

In the second round, Washington went one province over for British Columbia native Curtis Taylor. He was acquired from the Rays as one of the two PTBNLs in the July 2019 Eric Sogard trade. At #29 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30, he was actually the only ranked prospect selected yesterday, though I was surprised (even puzzled) at his inclusion when they did their post-deadline shuffling and it speaks more to a misranking than a bad decision by the Jays.

When he took the mount in May, it was an almost two year layoff between missing the last three months of 2019 to injury and the 2020 season being cancelled. He struck out 41 in 34.2 innings, but struggled overall with a 5.71 ERA. Five years ago, his stuff would have given him significant big league potential, but with the continuous rise in velo it ranks moe around average. He’s still got a shot, but realistically there’s probably a halz dozen relief arms ahead of him in the organizational pecking ladder.

The Jays did make one addition, plucking Abdiel Mendoza from Texas, a slight 5’10” righty reliever originally signed by Oakland in July 2015 and traded to the Rangers in August 2018. He only reached full season ball in the 2019, and is yet to pitch above low-A, so presumably something with the Jays sees something they like. He’s been used as a piggyback starter the last couple years, totaling 122 innings in 35 games, with 115 strikeouts and a 3.69 ERA.