Today, the final day of the Winter Meetings, will also hold Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft. The Cubs stand to lose infielder Ryan Flaherty, shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, and pitcher Dae-Eun Rhee.
The most recognizable name of that bunch is Flaherty, who has been in the system seemingly forever. With several options available for the Cubs at third within the minors, specifically Josh Vitters, Flaherty wasn’t given a spot on the club’s 40 man roster.
The Cubs are drafting fourth, although with the additions of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod, one has to assume that the Cubs will be drafting for the Red Sox and Padres, similar to how they drafted Josh Hamilton for the Reds in 2006.
There are several high-upside options available through the Rule 5 draft, however.
Nick Barnese of the Tampa Bay Rays has never been above Double-A, but he could be a good option out of the bullpen–and a much better one than the likes of Casey Coleman.
Barnese has made appearances on many prospect lists for Tampa, which has been a very good farm system. While typically a starter, a move to the bullpen could allow Barnese to limit his pitch counts and focus on using his fastball and change-up mix, while sprinkling in his underwhelming slider
Barnese sort of shot-puts the ball similar to how Keith Foulke used to, which is likely the reason he has encountered shoulder issues. A move to the bullpen would also help Barnese stay on the field, which is something he has struggled to do.
Third base prospect Pedro Baez is a super, super high-upside prospect that has electric tools, but horrid pitch selection. The Cubs may take a flier with the hope that hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo can work a miracle, but unless the Cubs are feeling risky, a Baez pick is unlikely. He is, however, one of the very few Rule 5 draft prospects with superstar potential, and third base is open as of now.