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Toolshed: Rule 5 Draft protection preview

Evaluating which top prospects will be added to 40-man rosters
At No. 17 overall, Forrest Whitley is the highest-ranked prospect in need of 40-man protection before Friday's deadline. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
November 17, 2020

The 40-man roster additions are coming. The 40-man roster additions are coming! As discussed in the last Toolshed, Nov. 20 is a big day on the baseball calendar. It's the deadline at which eligible players must be added to their respective 40-man rosters or they'll be left vulnerable to the

The 40-man roster additions are coming. The 40-man roster additions are coming!

As discussed in the last Toolshed, Nov. 20 is a big day on the baseball calendar. It's the deadline at which eligible players must be added to their respective 40-man rosters or they'll be left vulnerable to the Rule 5 Draft taking place Dec. 10.

Players are deemed to be Rule 5-eligible if they are not on a 40-man roster and meet the other following criteria -- they signed when they were 18 or younger and have been in pro ball for five or more seasons or they signed when they were 19 or older and have been in pro ball for four or more seasons. For example, a high-school player or 16-year-old international signee who signed in 2016 is eligible while college players drafted in 2017 can be taken in this year's Rule 5 Draft. While the Minor League campaign was canceled in 2020, it still counts as a season toward a player's Rule 5 eligibility.

A 40-man roster spot is one step closer to every player's dream of reaching the Majors. So while it may seem like just a paper move during the offseason, such a transaction can have huge ramifications on a player's prospects of reaching The Show some day, perhaps as soon as next spring.

This edition of Toolshed lists the top 30 prospects eligible in every farm system and evaluates their chances of cracking the 40-man roster before Friday's deadline. The number of players on each club's 40-man roster is included in parentheses and has an effect on how many moves said organization can make this week.

Arizona Diamondbacks (38)

3) Geraldo Perdomo
8) Luis Frias
10) J.B. Bukauskas
13) Stuart Fairchild

Outlook: Entering Tuesday, the D-backs have only two open spots on their 40-man roster and four solid ranked prospects capable of filling them. As's No. 79 overall prospect, Perdomo -- a switch-hitting shortstop with an impressive approach and plenty of glove -- is an easy and necessary addition. Frias features a nasty fastball-curveball combo and could have helped his stock by showing it off over a full season in 2020. As it stands, his career high for innings is 76 1/3, and he's only topped out at Class A. Still, more than a few clubs wouldn't mind giving his stuff a try in the bullpen if he was left unprotected. The same probably could be said for Bukauskas, the 15th overall pick in 2017. The former UNC right-hander has dealt with injuries and bouts of inconsistency early in his career, but possesses a fastball in the mid -to upper-90s along with a plus slider and above-average changeup when he's on. Control concerns point to a spot in the bullpen, but the 24-year-old could help out in that role rather quickly when things resume in the spring. Fairchild was picked up by the D-backs in the Archie Bradley trade with the Reds during the season. The outfielder's best tool is his speed, and because of it, he is capable of playing well in center. He also doesn't have a below-average tool at present, even if there are a fair share of 50s on the profile. It's unlikely Arizona would pick him up in a trade only to leave him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. As a good defender with a .380 OBP at Double-A, Fairchild would make for a solid fourth outfield option right now for Rule 5 clubs. The D-backs declined options on three pitchers last month to make 40-room space. A few more moves before Friday's deadline make sense if they intend to keep all four of these prospects around.

Atlanta Braves (36)

6) Kyle Muller
25) Thomas Burrows

Outlook: Muller is an easy decision to add to the 40-man. The 6-foot-7 left-hander throws in the mid-90s following some velocity improvements in 2019 and is capable of flashing above-average offerings in his curve and change. Control can be a problem, as evidenced by 68 walks in 111 2/3 innings, but the stuff and potential is too good to worry about that in this case. Burrows, a left-handed reliever with a plus slider, was left unprotected and unpicked in last year's Rule 5 Draft, and following the lack of a Minor League season this summer, it's difficult to see why the Braves would add the 26-year-old to the 40-man this time around.

Baltimore Orioles (35)

8) Yusniel Díaz
9) Michael Baumann
11) Zac Lowther
19) Alex Wells
25) Rylan Bannon
26) Cody Sedlock
27) Brenan Hanifee

Outlook: The rebuilding Orioles are in a spot in which they need to keep as much talent around as they can. As such, they should have a busy Friday. Diaz, Baumann and Lowther will be automatic additions as three prospects who have held their own at Double-A and are capable of impacting the Major League roster in 2021. (Note: Baumann was shut down in August with an elbow strain, but that shouldn't change his immediate 40-man trajectory.) Finding the other two additions from this group is more of a challenge. Wells' prospect status is derived almost entirely from his plus-plus control, but the southpaw possesses only one above-average pitch in his changeup. Bannon lacks a plus tool but is capable of playing anywhere on the infield, which should help his stock. Hanifee lacks swing-and-miss stuff with only 207 career K's in 329 2/3 innings, making him less of a Rule 5 threat. Sedlock was left unprotected in last year's Draft and would appear likely to get the same treatment in 2020. Bannon's utility status makes him the most likely of the other four to get a 40-man spot with other candidates outside the top-30 list less likely to get serious consideration.

Boston Red Sox (36)

4) Bryan Mata
7) Jay Groome
16) Jeisson Rosario
19) Connor Wong
20) Hudson Potts
23) Connor Seabold

Outlook: Frankly, it would come as a shock if the Red Sox left any of these six unprotected. Mata is the organization's best pitching prospect, and everyone who saw him at the alternate site in Pawtucket raved about his potential as a big piece in a Major League rotation. Groome was fully healthy for the first time in 2020, and while his stock has dropped since he was a first-rounder in 2016, the left-hander still flashes three good pitches, giving Boston hopes he can live up to his previously considerable hype. The others were acquired in trades since last offseason: Wong from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts swap, Potts and Rosaio from the Padres for Mitch Moreland and Seabold from the Phillies in the deal that sent two relievers the other way. Seabold comes from a place of need as a pitcher and has the potential to stick as a starter, thanks to an above-average changeup. Rosario might be the best defensive outfielder in the farm system already and comes with above-average speed to boot. The Sox are believers in Potts' bat, even after some previous struggles at Double-A. Triple-A manager Billy McMillon compared the infielder to former top prospect Will Middlebrooks. Wong is the organization's top catching prospect at a time when the Sox are a little thin at the position. Chaim Bloom & Co. will need to make room for all six, but that shouldn't be an issue in the middle of a rebuild.

Chicago Cubs (34)

11) Christopher Morel
12) Cory Abbott
26) Keegan Thompson
30) Brendon Little

Outlook: The Cubs have the space but lack the jazzy names to make Friday all that exciting on the North Side. Morel could have enjoyed a breakout 2020 in a normal year, considering the power-speed combo he showed off before a knee injury cut his 2019 season short in July. The 21-year-old third baseman participated at the alternate training site and at instructs -- a sign of how much the Cubs wanted to keep a close eye on him this summer and fall. Similarly, Abbott spent time at both spots, which should help his 40-man chances. With two above-average breaking pitches, the right-hander provides rotation depth and should get a decent chance at a Major League debut next season, having thrown 146 2/3 innings at Double-A in 2019. Thompson and Little are long shots. Thompson last went only 10 innings in 2019, and while he has plus control, the rest of the stuff doesn't yet jump off the scouting report. Little was a first-rounder in 2017, but his stock has tumbled in the three years-plus since.

Chicago White Sox (36)

10) Gavin Sheets
14) Jake Burger
24) Tyler Johnson
25) Lenyn Sosa
28) Luis Mieses
29) Will Kincanon

Outlook: Chicago's big names are either already on the 40-man or don't need to be added just yet, making this a somewhat underwhelming list. In a bit of a surprising move, Sheets didn't appear at the club's alternate site over the summer, despite second-half power improvements at Double-A. The slugging first baseman, however, did participate in instructs in the fall, so the Sox will know what they have in him before making a move Friday. The guess here is he'll still be protected, but the call on the 2017 second-rounder is likely closer than his prospect ranking alone would indicate. The Sox were much more outwardly enthused by the progress of Burger after he missed all of 2018 and 2019 due to Achilles and heel injuries. The first-rounder began the summer in a collegiate wood-bat league to get back up to speed and was showing signs of his old self when he reported to Schaumburg and instructs. Other teams might not have a lot of updated info on Burger, but the White Sox still might strongly consider him for a 40-man spot to keep clubs at bay from taking a Rule 5 flier on a player with tons of power potential when healthy. Johnson is the other likely addition as a right-hander capable of throwing in the high-90s with an average slider. He remained at the alternate training site and likely just missed making his Major League debut in 2020. The White Sox should want to keep him around as an option for next summer. Sosa and Mieses -- having never played above Class A Advanced -- are too far away and lack standout tools, while Kincanon would be a surprise as a right-handed reliever yet to see Double-A.

Cincinnati Reds (32)

16) Riley O'Brien
17) Vladimir Gutierrez
18) Jacob Heatherly
19) Alfredo Rodriguez
20) TJ Friedl
23) Joel Kuhnel
24) Mariel Bautista
28) Jared Solomon

Outlook: Plenty of space. Not a lot of flash. O'Brien was picked up from the Rays in an August trade, so he's as solid a lock as exists on this list. The right-hander can sit close to the mid-90s, and his above-average slider gives him two solid offerings, both of which he last showed at Double-A in 2019. Gutierrez has the most upper-level experience and sports three above-average to plus pitches in his fastball, curve and change. That should be enough to get him protected, but it's worth noting he got shellacked en route to a 6.04 ERA in 27 starts at Triple-A Louisville. The potential is worth the 40-man add for rotation depth, at least. The rest of the list above is murkier. Heatherly pitched only 8 2/3 innings in 2019 and didn't appear at instructs. Rodriguez, Friedl and Bautista are light hitters, and the latter two were left unprotected and unpicked in last year's Rule 5 Draft. Solomon has some potential as a hard-throwing right-hander who reached the high-90s in 2020 workouts. Kuhnel was outrighted off the 40-man in October, so he won't be back Friday. O'Brien and Gutierrez are the surest things, but there's plenty of room for surprises as well.

Cleveland Indians (35)

1) Nolan Jones
6) Gabriel Arias
22) Carlos Vargas
25) Luis Oviedo
30) Will Benson

Overlook: Cutting to the chase, Jones -- the No. 38 overall prospect in the game -- will be the first name on Cleveland's 40-man addition sheet, and it should provide some comfort to Tribe fans that the left-handed slugger has been getting looks in the outfield, where there is a huge need for talent in northeast Ohio. Arias is another easy addition as the top-ranked prospect picked up from the Padres in the Mike Clevinger blockbuster during the season. The shortstop brings a huge arm and impressive glove to the 40-man roster, and there is hope he could develop some more power as well as he climbs the ladder. Vargas is a bit of a dark horse as a 21-year-old right-hander yet to pitch above Class A Short Season. The experience on paper hurts his case, but it's not often that pitchers capable of touching triple-digits and showing plus sliders are available in the Rule 5 Draft. With the space open, Cleveland might take the long play by adding Vargas now. The organization certainly got plenty of looks at him in instructs this fall. Oviedo was unprotected and unpicked in 2019 and is likely to see the same fate here. Benson -- a 2016 first-round pick -- provides impressive raw power, but his contact rate needs improving if he's going to be even a Rule 5 threat. Barring changes over the summer, he should be considered a long shot this week.

Colorado Rockies (37)

7) Colton Welker
15) Helcris Olivarez
19) Daniel Montano
26) Riley Pint
30) Ever Moya

Outlook: Welker's stock has certainly taken a hit since the days when the third baseman was considered a Top-100 prospect, but with solid offensive potential, the right-handed-hitting corner infielder has too good a ceiling to go left unprotected. Farm director Zach Wilson told's Andrew Battifarano that Olivarez made the jump this summer, showing a high-90s fastball to go with a plus curve and plus change. That level of enthusiasm should give the 20-year-old left-hander protection, even though he hasn't pitched above Rookie Advanced ball. After injuries and serious bouts of wildness, Pint remains a long shot, despite being the fourth overall pick four years ago.

Detroit Tigers (37)

3) Matt Manning
9) Joey Wentz
10) Alex Faedo
16) Wenceel Perez
30) Elvin Rodriguez

Outlook: Don't overthink this. Manning, Wentz and Faedo were part of the vaunted Double-A Erie rotation that was often the talk of the 2019 Minor League season, and all three will find their ways to the 40-man roster before Friday's deadline. If there is any question mark, it's Wentz, who underwent Tommy John surgery back in the spring, but it's hard to imagine the Tigers leaving the left-hander vulnerable and able to complete his rehab for another club. If Detroit wants to open up another spot, Perez could get a look as a plus runner with the capabilities to stick at short. But he hasn't played above Class A yet, and his glove was shaky at times there. Rodriguez was unprotected and unpicked in last year's Rule 5 Draft.

Houston Astros (36)

1) Forrest Whitley
2) Freudis Nova
8) Jairo Solis
12) Tyler Ivey
14) Jose Alberto Rivera
19) Luis Santana
27) Peter Solomon
29) Ronnie Dawson

Outlook: Whitley, the No. 17 overall prospect, will be an easy protect. Even after major command problems, the right-hander still possesses five impressive pitches and would have made the 40-man earlier this year if not for forearm concerns. Houston will also likely want to find a spot for at least Nova, a true shortstop with a huge arm and above-average speed. Solis also should be on the short list with his potentially three above-average pitches in his fastball, slider and curve. Nova and Solis participated in instructs, giving the Astros one final look before this week's big decision. (Note: A previous version of this blurb noted the Astros had 39 players on the 40-man. That count included three players on the restricted list who do not actively count toward the 40-man. The blurb was updated to reflect that.)

Kansas City Royals (39)

8) Khalil Lee
14) Seuly Matias
18) Brewer Hicklen
22) Daniel Tillo
24) Yefri Del Rosario

Outlook: Another organization with only one open spot heading into Tuesday. General manager Dayton Moore singled out Lee on a video call with reporters earlier this offseason, so it's a safe bet the 22-year-old outfielder will be protected on the strength of his on-base skills, defensive prowess and baserunning ability. The fact that Matias, who went unprotected and unpicked in 2019 because of major strikeout issues, is the next highest-ranked prospect on this list is telling. The Royals might use the lack of a Minor League season as a way to sneak through Hicklen, Tillo and Del Rosario without 40-man adds, if they decide not to clear more 40-man space.

Los Angeles Angels (36)

1) Brandon Marsh
6) Chris Rodriguez
12) Packy Naughton
13) Jose Soriano
17) Oliver Ortega
19) Livan Soto
23) Orlando Martinez
24) Kevin Maitan
26) Leonardo Rivas

Outlook: Marsh is another easy addition as the No. 73 overall prospect, and the thought of him playing alongside Mike Trout and Jo Adell should bring some joy to Anaheim. Rodriguez is the organization's No. 2 pitching prospect. While back injuries have limited him to only 9 1/3 innings of Minor League ball since 2018, the Angels said he was fully healthy in 2020, and there would be a few teams willing to line up in the Rule 5 Draft to bet on his above-average heater, slider and change. Naughton was a Trade Deadline addition from the Reds, so he's likely the third 40-man addition to provide rotation depth, even if his stuff doesn't pop on the page. There are no other slam dunks among the remaining six ranked prospects. If nothing else, it's worth noting that Maitan once was considered one of the most promising shortstops in the game. Now he's likely to be left vulnerable to the Rule 5 Draft come Friday.

Los Angeles Dodgers (32)

16) Gerardo Carrillo
21) Omar Estevez
22) Edwin Uceta
27) Brett de Geus
28) Andre Jackson
30) Cody Thomas

Outlook: That 32 can be deceiving, considering we know the Dodgers may want to save a few 40-man spots for free agents. That being said, Carrillo seems like a good bet to make the roster as a right-hander who stood out in last year's AFL, played in this year's 60-man player pool and is capable of throwing in the high-90s with above-average curves and sliders. Estevez seems like a solid bet to be added as a middle infielder with decent Double-A experience. Uceta, de Geus and Jackson were also 60-man participants. Uceta and Jackson have been worked as starters, while de Geus, who sports a plus heater and curve, pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. Uceta has the most experience of the group, but Jackson has the most room to grow as a raw right-hander whose ceiling could eclipse the other two. Jackson, de Geus, Carrillo and Estevez are the best bets of the group, and Uceta could sneak in as well. If Thomas gets a surprise addition, it'll be because the Dodgers are big believers that the former Oklahoma quarterback's power will thrive in the Majors the same way it has at the lower levels.

Miami Marlins (38)

13) Jose Devers
17) Jerar Encarnacion

Outlook: One of Kim Ng's first decisions as Miami general manager will come at the Rule 5 protection deadline, and she inherits a 40-man roster already nearly loaded to the brim. That shouldn't stop the Miami front office from adding Devers and Encarnacion to the 40-man to keep them away from other clubs for now. Devers is a gifted fielder at shortstop and has shown above-average hitting potential from the left side. Encarnacion is more of a power bat who also flashes a plus arm from the outfield. Both players played at the alternate site this summer and are teammates on Cibao in the Dominican Winter League. Other 40-man cuts could be coming to make room in the days ahead, but two top-30 prospects for two open spots is neat enough for now.

Milwaukee Brewers (36)

4) Mario Feliciano
14) Zack Brown
15) Payton Henry
24) Alec Bettinger
25) Dylan File
28) Lucas Erceg
29) Pablo Abreu

Outlook: Brown and Erceg -- at one time, two of the biggest names in the system -- were left unprotected and unpicked in last year's Rule 5 Draft, so it'd take a major change of mind for either to get different treatment this time. Feliciano -- the 2019 Carolina League MVP -- is the future of the catching position in Milwaukee because of his pop from the right side, and he's the only slam dunk 40-man addition. His arrival will carry enough headlines for a system that still has a ways to go in terms of talent and depth.

Minnesota Twins (34)

4) Jordan Balazovic
9) Wander Javier
13) Akil Baddoo
22) Jose Miranda
25) Yunior Severino
27) Ben Rortvedt
30) Gabriel Maciel

Outlook: Seven prospects but only one obvious 40-man addition. Balazovic vaulted his way into Top-100 status in 2019 and remains at No. 81 this year. The Canadian right-hander can show a plus fastball and above-average slider and spots the ball well in the zone. Javier could have benefited from a bounceback 2020, but the lost year means he'll likely get the same experience as he did a year ago; Minnesota left him off the 40-man when he was Rule 5-eligible the first time. Rortvedt is the only ranked prospect outside Balazovic with significant Double-A experience, but the defensive specialist would be the fourth catcher on the 40-man roster, which could be difficult to justify for a player who has yet to post a season OBP above .334.

New York Mets (37)

14) Shervyen Newton
18) Dedniel Nunez
22) Michel Otanez
27) Tony Dibrell
29) Daison Acosta
30) Luis Carpio

Outlook: The signs are all there for a slow Friday in Queens. The Mets have only three open 40-man spots. Their top ranked prospect eligible for this year's 2020 Draft is Newton, who was also eligible but went unpicked in 2019. None of the other five above claim a true plus tool -- outside of perhaps Otanez's fastball -- or the experience that commands Rule 5 protection. The biggest news may come when Tim Tebow is in all likelihood left vulnerable to the Rule 5 Draft for the first time.

New York Yankees (36)

4) Oswald Peraza
8) Alexander Vizcaino
9) Yoendrys Gomez
19) Roansy Contreras
24) Trevor Stephan

Outlook: The Yankees seem to be in a perpetual 40-man roster crunch, and this year is no different. Luckily, there is enough space to protect three of the club's top 10 prospects. Peraza gets plus grades for his run, fielding and arm tools at shortstop and could become an above-average hitter as well. Vizcaino throws hard, touching triple-digits at times, and features a plus changeup, making him right at home in a system loaded with fireballers. Gomez's best pitch is his curve, but his heater and changeup also show above-average potential, giving him a well-rounded arsenal. Contreras and Stephan are longer shots, and the Yankees could choose to keep a 40-man spot open for a potential free agent.

Oakland Athletics (32)

12) Jordan Diaz
13) Greg Deichmann
18) Lazaro Armenteros
23) Buddy Reed
24) Brian Howard
25) Miguel Romero
26) Parker Dunshee

Outlook: No top-10 names here, but that won't mean the A's shouldn't be busy come Friday. Deichmann is an obvious addition following his breakout in the Arizona Fall League -- he led the circuit with nine homers -- and another strong showing at the alternate site in San Jose. Reed could give the A's two outfield additions. The former Padres prospect was unprotected and unpicked in last year's Rule 5 Draft, but was dealt to Oakland soon after. The A's could choose a different fate for him if they value his special defense and plus-plus speed more than San Diego did. Dunshee, Howard and Romero have some degree of Triple-A experience -- the latter of which came in the bullpen. Because of that experience level, all three would get Rule 5 looks if left unprotected, and that could scare Oakland enough, especially with some Rule 5 room to breathe. Diaz is the highest-ranked prospect of the bunch but is a hard call, considering he last played at Class A Short Season Vermont. The 20-year-old third baseman makes a good amount of contact and has room to grow in the power department. If the A's leave him unprotected, it's because he's too far away. If they add him, it's because they're scared of other teams betting on Diaz's bat.

Philadelphia Phillies (31)

4) Francisco Morales
9) Enyel De Los Santos
11) Simon Muzziotti
13) Nick Maton
15) Damon Jones
19) Jhailyn Ortiz
20) Rodolfo Duran
21) David Parkinson
25) Arquimedes Gamboa
26) Kyle Dohy
27) Kyle Young
29) Daniel Brito

Outlook: Lots of room, lots of prospects needing protection. That still doesn't guarantee a slew of names come Friday. Morales surely will be added to protect his plus fastball and plus slider. Jones also seems like a probable addition with a plus fastball and plus curve, though his control limits the profile some. Muzziotti and Maton are more depth additions on the outfield and infield respectively, and they'll likely have more to give defensively than offensively, at least right now. De Los Santos was outrighted off the 40-man in August, and Ortiz was left unprotected last year and will likely see the same fate this time around.

Pittsburgh Pirates (40)

19) Santiago Florez
21) Kevin Kramer
23) Lolo Sanchez
24) Max Kranick
26) Rodolfo Castro
30) Travis MacGregor

Outlook: The Bucs finished with the worst record in the Majors. That would figure to mean they would have a lot of 40-man openings come the end of the season. In reality, Pittsburgh's 40-man is currently full. Luckily, there aren't many ranked prospects pushing for Rule 5 protection. Florez hasn't played above Rookie Advanced. Kramer was outrighted in October. Sanchez was unprotected last year and slipped through. And those are the three best prospects of the bunch. The Pirates may be more active in the Rule 5 Draft if they clear room than they might be at the protection deadline.

San Diego Padres (38)

8) Tucupita Marcano
10) Reggie Lawson
17) Tirso Ornelas
19) Esteury Ruiz
23) Lake Bachar
26) Pedro Avila
28) Eguy Rosario
29) Jordy Barley

Outlook: The Padres are now full-built contenders and have the 40-man roster to match. They traded away Rosario, Potts and Arias to clear some of the Nov. 20 logjam, but still face some difficult questions. Marcano and Lawson are the obvious candidates to fill the open spots right now. Marcano has above-average potential with the bat and is a 55 runner as well -- one who is likely to stick in a middle role. Lawson missed all of 2020 following Tommy John surgery, but he showed a plus heater and above-average curve at Double-A and the AFL before the procedure, good enough pitches to punch his ticket to the 40-man. San Diego will have to clear space for any of the others, but none of the remaining six have the skill sets that demand protection.

San Francisco Giants (39)

7) Alexander Canario
17) Gregory Santos
25) Camilo Doval

Outlook: It's been a rough week for Canario, who underwent surgery after tearing his labrum during instructs. Even with the injury, the 20-year-old outfielder feels like a lock to be protected because of his plus raw power and the arm to fit in center or right. The Giants only have room right now for the one addition, but if they make room for another, look out for Doval, who often throws triple-digits as a reliever. Santos went unprotected last year and seems like a candidate to meet the same fate after a lost 2020.

Seattle Mariners (35)

5) Taylor Trammell
14) Juan Then
20) Sam Delaplane
21) Joe Rizzo
23) Wyatt Mills

Outlook: As the No. 51 overall prospect and a player picked up during the season, Trammell is an absolute lock to be protected before Friday. Then is equally expected to be added to the 40-man because of a three-pitch mix that points to a future in a Major League rotation. Delaplane was one of the Minors' most dominant relief pitchers in 2019, having struck out 120 in 68 2/3 innings between Class A Advanced and Double-A, and he has the stuff to match. Even as a reliever, he should get plenty of 40-man consideration. Rizzo and Mills are tougher sells and therefore could be left on the outside looking in.

St. Louis Cardinals (37)

4) Ivan Herrera
13) Angel Rondon
15) Julio Rodriguez
24) Juan Yepez
27) Roel Ramirez
30) Alvaro Seijas

Outlook: Herrera flashes above-average potential at and behind the plate, and the Cardinals will be sure he goes nowhere other than the 40-man roster. Rondon was the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2019, having posted a 2.93 ERA with 159 strikeouts over 160 innings between Class A Advanced and Double-A, and it's unlikely he gets left unprotected. None of the other four command protection in the same way, and that's just as well considering the limited openings entering the week.

Tampa Bay Rays (39)

10) Josh Lowe
15) Moises Gomez
17) Taylor Walls
24) Paul Campbell

Outlook: Deep rosters lead to 40-man crunches. That's what the Rays have on their hands. Even if the roster was at 40, Tampa Bay would create space for Lowe, who would rank much higher in other systems. The 22-year-old outfielder mixes good defensive skills (including a monster arm) with an impressive power-speed combo. He should be a Major League option for the defending American League champs at some point in 2021. The club will have to make room for another 40-man addition in Walls, a switch-hitting shortstop with good speed and a career .778 OPS in the Minors. Gomez can likely be scratched off since he was unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft in 2019. Campbell is a tougher call. The 25-year-old right-hander lacks a plus pitch but could provide rotation depth after posting a 3.36 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP over 85 2/3 innings at Double-A last year. The lack of stuff makes the call lean toward no, but don't be surprised if the Rays try to make room for Campbell before Friday.

Texas Rangers (35)

14) David Garcia
20) Yerry Rodriguez
21) A.J. Alexy

Outlook: A rebuilding team with the space to make multiple additions could make for an interesting Friday. Unfortunately, the pop just isn't here in terms of Rule 5-eligible prospects. Garcia has developed into a defense-first catcher with some offensive promise, though one who hasn't played above Class A Short Season. Catching depth is an issue for all clubs, though, and Texas might want to ensure it's protected by adding Garcia. Rodriguez and Alexy didn't throw at the alternate site or instructs, which would be a worry here. Rodriguez is the more likely of the two, thanks to his plus heater and above-average slider.

Toronto Blue Jays (35)

8) Gabriel Moreno
13) Otto Lopez
19) Kevin Smith
22) Riley Adams
26) Josh Winckowski
30) Chavez Young

Outlook: Among those first four names are two catchers and two infielders, each of whom can be divided up in similar buckets. Moreno and Lopez have the higher offensive ceilings but have yet to play above Class A. Smith and Adams have Double-A experience and participated at the alternate site this summer but are less likely to hit at the top level. So who gets protection? The Jays have room for all four, but adding two backstops when there are already three, for example, is a bit much to carry. The best bet is always on talent, so the expectation here is that Moreno and Lopez -- both of whom played in instructs this fall -- get the nod. But a combo of the four is certainly possible.

Washington Nationals (30)

12) Yasel Antuna
14) Israel Pineda
16) Joan Adon
24) Sterling Sharp
27) Raudy Read
28) Cole Freeman
29) Nick Banks

Outlook: The Nats had plenty of 40-man roster space last year and went conservative by adding only Ben Braymer among their top 30 prospects. (Left unprotected, Sharp was picked by the Marlins in the Rule 5 Draft, only to be returned to Washington during the season.) The club could well go that route again. Pineda and Adon are the most likely, even though neither have played above Class A. Adon, a right-hander with a plus fastball and above-average slider, should have the inside track as a player who spent the summer at the alternate training site at Fredericksburg. Freeman -- the Nats' 2019 Minor League Baserunner of the Year -- has an outside shot due to his speed. Read was outrighted off the 40-man in October. Antuna, the highest-ranked prospect here, might have an uphill battle as a player who has played only 90 Minor League games since the start of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery, leg injuries and the pandemic. That said, the switch-hitting infielder has above-average potential with his hit tool, and the Nats could change course from last year and use the extra space to protect him.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.