In a system that is chock full of minor league talent, it’s unavoidable that some may be lost to the Rule 5 draft. Luckily, the Houston Astros have so much depth that a few missed players won’t be detrimental to the system. With three roster spots still to fill, the Astros have more room to protect players along with Domingo Santana, Luis Cruz and Asher Wojciechowski, who were just added recently.
The players that can be snatched by the Rule 5 draft are J.D. Martinez, Austin Wates, Jiovanni Mier, Jake Buchanan, Matt Heidenreich, Eric Berger, Ross Seaton, Jason Stoffel, Alex Sogard and Telvin Nash. If the Astros take the approach of adding three more guys in order to protect them from the draft, look for Buchanan and Stoffel to be added for sure.
Buchanan had a breakout season in 2013, going 12-7 with a 2.96 ERA across Double-A and Triple-A. He doesn’t walk batters and could be a useful component to an ailing bullpen. Stoffel is very similar, except that he could even project as a closer.
It’s a shame that the Astros seem unwilling to protect Martinez, given that they are sorely lacking in consistent power bats. While J.D.’s power is still up for question, he has always maintained a .250 MLB average — something that only Jason Castro and Jose Altuve managed throughout the 2013 season. It would be a huge loss to part ways with him so soon, but it appears to be inevitable.
The rest of the names on the list are fairly dispensable. Wates could still turn into something special, but he spent the majority of 2013 dealing with injury problems and given that he’s 25, he needs to start turning into an MLB ballplayer. The Astros are bound to protect at least two more players with their roster spaces, so it’ll be interesting to see who they add in the coming days.