After dodging a bullet last season and not having anybody -particularly Pedro Strop- selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft, the Rockies don't figure to be so lucky this time around. Given the buzz from Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, Shane Lindsay and Sean Thompson may seem the most likely to get selected, but there are other players that might get selected depending on what other teams feel their needs are. Following is a list of names to look for getting picked off:
Shane Lindsay: Lindsay's considered by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and other places to be the highest ceiling pitcher left unprotected for the Rule 5 draft, and that alone indicates that he should be an early selection tomorrow. He's a hard thrower with natural sink to his fastball and a knuckle-curve with an impressive break. These publications make it sound like it's almost a lock that he'll be taken, and who knows, maybe it is, but there's a legitimate reason to feel confident that when all is said and done the Rockies will be able to keep Lindsay next season.
Lindsay's stint in Hawaii this fall, where he walked sixteen batters and gave up eleven hits in just eighteen innings -mostly in relief- convinced the Rockies that he was far from ready to contribute to a major league bullpen. Hawaii's hitting prospects are mostly straight out of A level, and not nearly the caliber of player he would regularly have to face as a major leaguer. I think the team's taking a big risk here, but I'm leaning to the feeling that Lindsay will get selected but returned in the Spring.
The real trouble, however, is that thanks to his ceiling, unlike any of the other players left unprotected by the Rockies, the unlikely disaster scenario with Lindsay getting selected isn't just cringe worthy, it's the seventh circle of Hell. Think being trapped in the same room with Zac Efron and a dozen pre-pubescent girls. It's worse than that:
Lindsay gets selected by the Diamondbacks who had noticed a tick in his delivery that was easily correctable. He comes into Spring Training and blows their socks off and moves into the rotation behind Brandon Webb. Living up to his potential, he rips through the NL West, and the D-backs win their second straight NL title and twelve out of nineteen games against the Rockies. With a one-two pitching combo they had lacked, the Snakes ride to the World Series where they get some luck and win their second title over the Detroit Tigers. With the two ace pitchers locked up for the next six seasons (they extended Brandon Webb in May) they are looking at a real dynasty in the desert.
Put it with the Dodgers and you'll feel the same nausea come on. Any other team? Almost as bad, but at least I can still look at the carnage. At any rate, remote as this scenario is, it's why we have reason to worry.
Sean Thompson: Thompson is a favorite of Baseball Prospectus writer Bryan Smith (link for paid subscribers), who sees him going to a team in need of left handed relief. The Rockies claimed the Colorado native off waivers from San Diego this year, and he opened some eyes in the Arizona Fall League, but the team felt his stuff wasn't quite ready and didn't feel it could afford giving him a roster slot and still meet all its offseason needs. I expect Thompson to be taken and kept by a non-contending NL team like the Nationals or Marlins.
Jarrett Grube: Smith's also keen on Jarrett Grube, but I'm really not gauging the same interest in him as Thompson's picking up, as his upper 80's fastball just doesn't seem to be speaking to teams right now when they see other RHP's with more legit swing and miss stuff.
Christian Colonel: Despite a relatively poor showing in the AFL, Colonel is picking up some buzz as a potential bench bat.
Joe Gaetti: Similar to Colonel, Gaetti projects only as a fourth outfielder, but he's already at his peak with his batting skills and a team that's looking to fill out their bench cheaply might take a flyer on him. I'd have rather protected one of these two than Sean Barker, and I wouldn't be surprised to see either player stick if they get selected.
Samuel Deduno: Probably would have been a good bet to be protected before another elbow flare-up at the end of the season caused the Rockies to shut him down. Concerns about his arm have left his chances of being taken pretty remote.
Eric Young Jr. Like I mentioned in the comments to the thread below this one, Young doesn't fit the profile of players that will get a lot of press leading into the Rule 5 draft, but he does fit a profile of players that regularly get selected. Up the middle guys with game changing speed who can be used late as a pinch runner. Willy Taveras got picked by the Astros this way. He has as much or more baserunning ability than any player available from other teams, and that alone worries me that he could get selected.