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Yankees lose Jake Cave and Evan Rutckyj in Rule 5 Draft

A couple longtime Yankees minor leaguers were lost in the Rule 5, but the Yankees did make some small pick-ups.

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The Rule 5 Draft was held today as the Winter Meetings began to wind down. The Yankees have not made a selection in the major league portion since taking reliever Brad Meyers in the 2011 Draft, and they passed to keep that tradition going today. The vast majority of Rule 5 selections never end up making a difference with their new teams, so it's hard to fault the Yankees for not taking anyone. Usually, there's a good reason why these players are not protected on their respective teams' 40-man rosters.

However, the Yankees have lost some players in years past, such as Tommy Kahnle in 2013 and Ivan Nova in 2009 (later returned). Two of the first three picks in this year's Rule 5 Draft were Yankees, as outfielder Jake Cave and reliever Evan Rutckyj  were taken by other teams:

It isn't surprising that Cave was one of the top choices. The 2011 sixth round pick recovered from an early career injury to have a breakout season in 2014, ending up on some Top 10 Yankees Prospects list and drawing favorable comparisons to Brett Gardner from his Double-A manager, Tony Franklin. Unfortunately, his production slipped in 2015 to a .269/.330/.345 triple slash with the Thunder, only good for a 97 wRC+. So when it came time to choose players to protect on the 40-man roster, the Yankees elected to take Triple-A outfielder Ben Gamel over Cave. It was simply a numbers game for Cave--the Yankees have too many fringe outfield prospects in Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Gamel. So best of luck to him in Cincinnati.

Rutckyj was a bit of a stranger pick, though it follows in the pattern of the Braves nabbing players from the Yankees' system--Rutckyj is the 20th former Yankee to join Atlanta since the start of 2015. The beautifully named native of Ontario was a 16th round pick in the 2011 Draft, and he has always had a reputation for velocity and high strikeout totals. He split 2015 between High-A Tampa and Trenton, pitching to a 2.63 ERA and 1.265 WHIP in 36 games, striking out 82 batters, good for a 12.0 K/9. Rutckyj has also had control problems in the past though, and he was behind several other relievers on the depth chart.

Both Cave and Rutckyj will need to stick on the Reds' and Braves' major league rosters all season for them to be kept, so it will be interesting to see if they can make the cut. Since both teams are not expected to come close to contention this year, they should have much better chances than they would have had in pinstripes.

The Yankees did make some selections in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, and they lost some more players too. These transactions are final:

Gained by Yankees
Name Pos. 2016 Age Team 2015 stats
Yefrey Ramirez SP 22 Diamondbacks (Rk) 13 GS, 5.35 ERA, 69 IP, 8.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9
Julian Aybar RP 23 Cubs (DOSL) 20 G, 1.82 ERA, 39 2/3 IP, 10.7 K/9, 2.0 BB/9
Santiago Nessy C 23 Royals (AA/A+) 66 G, .220/.287/.340, 11 2B, 4 HR, 33% CS%
Lost by Yankees
Name Pos. Age Team 2015 stats
Danny Oh OF 25 Athletics (AA/A+) 96 G, .305/.360/.408, 22 2B, 1 HR, 13 SB
Luis Niebla RP 25 Rockies (AA/A+) 33 G, 4.50 ERA, 60 IP, 7.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9
Eduardo De Oleo C 23 Diamondbacks (A/A-) 56 G, .237/.286/.366, 14 2B, 3 HR, 39% CS%
Yoel Espinal RP 23 Braves (A/A-) 31 G, 6.09 ERA, 68 IP, 9.1 K/9, 7.3 BB/9

Not much to report here. The very rare player taken in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft turns into Justin Bour, but usually they are simply organizational guys. It's amusing to see the Braves hit blackjack with 21 former Yankees now since 2015, and ol' baby buddy De Oleo moves on to Arizona.