Every year the Rule 5 Draft takes place to close out the Winter Meetings. It is a mechanism put into place to prevent teams from holding onto major league-caliber prospects for too long. Teams had to finalize their 40-man roster prior to the draft, adding the eligible players in order to protect them from being taken. The Yankees have a deep farm system, and when there are so many talent players in the mix, a few are likely to fall through the cracks. This year, they lost eight players in total.
In the major league portion of the draft, where players must stay on the active roster of their new team all season long or be offered back, catcher Luis Torrens was drafted by the Reds and traded to the Padres. The Arizona Diamondbacks took right-hander Tyler Jones, a former minor league free agents the Yankees picked up before last season. The Brewers selected left-hander Caleb Smith and later traded him to the Cubs, and the Pirates grabbed lefty Tyler Webb.
Losing Smith and Webb were not unexpected as they are left-handed relievers in the upper minors, and we all know major league teams like their lefties. More surprising was the selection of Torrens, who certainly has plenty of upside but is 20 years old and has yet to play above Low-A. Smith and Webb certainly have a chance to stick with their respective teams all season as useful LOOGYs, however, it is highly unlikely that Torrens even makes it out of spring training with the Padres.
In the minor league portion of the draft, the Yankees lost several more players, including 24-year-old organizational utility player Kevin Cornelius to the Cubs and right-hander Kevin Magallanes, who is 22 and has never pitched above rookie ball, to the Royals. Then there’s the fact that former first-round pick Ty Hensley was selected by the Rays. In the minor league portion of the draft, players do not get offered back to their former teams. Once they are selected they are gone, so this is officially the end of the Ty Hensley era of disappointing baseball prospects. Hopefully he can finally get on the mound for long enough to do something.
While teams were busy raiding the Yankees organization, the Yankees took the time to pick a player of their own. In the minor league portion, they chose right-handed starter Colten Brewer from Pittsburgh. The 24-year-old just finished a season in High-A where he maintained a 4.09 ERA with an 8.4 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 70.1 innings of work. They also took catcher Jorge Saez from the Blue Jays. The 26-year-old backstop spent 40 games at Double-A and he should serve as organizational filler for the Yankees.
More surprising than the players who were selected is the one player who was not. Jake Cave was taken by the Reds last season, and he looked like a lock to at least start the year with the big league club. Instead, he was offered back. Now he’s gone undrafted in 2016, which seems like a huge blow to his apparent value as a versatile outfielder who can hit for average, if nothing else. At least the Yankees get to keep their outfield depth, but Cave being passed over is probably not good if you’re hoping he turns into something useful.