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Rockies Rule 5 Draft preview: Who will Colorado protect?

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The deadline for protecting players from the Rule 5 Draft is tomorrow. Here’s a primer on what the Rockies might do.

Yency Almonte
Rockies prospect Yency Almonte pitches for the Modesto Nuts.
Bobby DeMuro

Friday, Nov. 18 marks Major League Baseball’s reserves deadline for 2016. Essentially, that means clubs must add players they wish to protect from December’s Rule 5 Draft to the 40-man roster.

Last year, the Colorado Rockies opted to protect four notable prospects — Trevor Story, Raimel Tapia, Antonio Senzatela and Carlos Estevez — and designated four players for assignment to make room. This time around, the Rockies have just 34 players on their 40-man roster and, judging by a quick look at the list linked below, likely won’t need to protect as many players. That ultimately will leave the club room to make a few free-agent additions without having to part with so many roster incumbents for next to nothing.

That still could happen when the non-tender deadline approaches next month, but for now, the Rockies are in good shape from a roster space perspective as they enter a key offseason period.

So, who might the Rockies add to their roster before the weekend? Here’s a full list of Rule 5-eligible players, courtesy of Rockies Roster (note: some of those players may no longer be with the organization, but since no official documentation of their release has been posted anywhere, so they’ve been included). Many of those players have no chance of being added to a major league 40-man at this point, but here are some notables:

Pitchers

Yency Almonte
Alex Balog
Shane Carle
Julian Fernandez
Matt Flemer
Rayan Gonzalez
Evan Grills
Zach Jemiola
Sam Moll
Helmis Rodriguez
Jesus Tinoco

Almonte and Moll likely represent the two best cases — not only among pitchers, but likely in the entire organization — for Rule 5 protection. The former — acquired around this time last offseason for Tommy Kahnle, whom the Rockies dumped at the reserves deadline — posted a 3.58 ERA with 8.3 K/9 across two levels. The latter, who came into the season as a darkhorse for a major league bullpen spot, posted a 4.94 ERA with mediocre peripherals at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Three others to watch are Carle, Gonzalez and Jemiola, all three of whom are currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

Gonzalez (3.12 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 at Hartford) is a reliever who boasts a cutter that is a true out pitch but has fringy command. Jemiola (4.39 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 at Hartford), a starter, displays an advanced feel for pitching but has subpar stuff.

Carle was converted to a reliever midseason and has carried his strong performance -- 3.60 ERA with 18 strikeouts and four walks in 15 innings out of the bullpen — over to the AFL.

Position players

Luis Castro
Noel Cuevas
Yonathan Daza
Rosell Herrera
Michael Tauchman
Dillon Thomas
Max White

Tauchman and Thomas are the two most intriguing players of this group. Though he most likely has a fourth-outfielder ceiling, Tauchman is well regarded by the organization for his mature hitting approach and is a good defender.

Thomas, a fourth-round pick in 2011 who was fairly well touted out of high school, came into his own in 2016, hitting .289/.353/.425 with 37 doubles while flashing a myriad of skills at Double-A Hartford.

Now, we’ll leave it to you, the reader. Who do you think the Rox will protect? Leave your answers in the comments or, if you’re feeling a little longer winded, feel free to write a FanPost.