A year from now, the Yankees will be coming off their 28th championship and will have already gone through the 2014 Rule 5 Draft. During this season's Rule 5 Draft, the Yankees decided to protect a few worthy prospects, those being Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanchez, Bryan Mitchell, Jose Campos, Shane Greene and newcomer Dean Anna. Greene and Anna were somewhat surprise additions (Anna more so) and there were other surprise players left unprotected, such as Chase Whitley, Tom Kahnle and Dan Burawa (Kahnle would be chosen by Colorado).
During the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, there are a few players who will be eligible that should be protected (and some that shouldn't be). Tyler Austin, Mark Montgomery, Mason Williams and Rafael DePaula are basic locks to be protected and added to the 40-man roster. Other players such as Cito Culver, Matt Tracy, Ben Gamel, Gabe Encinas and Angelo Gumbs are less than automatic, but still represent decent talent and could force their way into the conversation depending on how well their rebounding seasons (Tracy and Encinas) or breakout seasons (Culver, Gamel and Gumbs) go. I would think Gumbs, Culver and Encinas would have to climb into AA and show success to be considered for a 40-man spot (although the Yankees did protect Campos this year, after being in Charleston all season). Tracy is attempting to work his way back from injury, but showed promise into the 2013 season. A strong rebound from him could have him pitching in AAA by season's end and on the 40-man by the offseason roster deadline. Gamel and Pinder would most likely start the season in AA, with a chance to move up a level with excellent play, but Pinder has already had a shot in Trenton and struggled with control (5.9BB/9) and putting up an ERA over 6, causing him to be demoted to Tampa.
Other players who are first time eligible for the 2014 Rule 5 Draft include Branden Pinder, Cesar Vargas, Cody Grice, Phil Wetherell and John Brebbia. Those 5 are guaranteed to go unprotected unless they put up very gaudy numbers in 2014 and move themselves closer to the show (Pinder pitched in AA and Grice bounced between several levels in 2013, but Vargas, Wetherell and Brebbia were all in A-ball).
Who would you protect? Did anyone get left off the list that could potentially make sense as a roster addition? Is there a player who you think will sneak onto the 40-man as a surprise?