Kansas City Royals make questionable roster moves ahead of Rule 5 draft
There’s always speculation about who will be added to the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft. This year, the Kansas City Royals made some strange moves, leaving well-known players exposed.
Like teams across baseball, the Kansas City Royals made roster moves in anticipation for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Unlike some of those fellow franchises, the Royals made some moves that had pundits and fans alike scratching their collective heads.
The team added three players to the Kansas City Royals 40-man roster, bringing the total number of players on it to 38. Left-handers Eric Stout and Tim Hill found themselves on the roster, along with catcher Meibrys Viloria. Keeping open spaces allows the team some wiggle room when it comes to adding players via the Rule 5 draft or claiming them off of waivers.
What is the Rule 5 draft?
For those unfamiliar with the process, Maria Torres of the Kansas City Star explained who is available for selection in the Rule 5 draft:
"Players are eligible to be drafted in the Rule 5 draft if they are not on a team’s 40-man roster and have spent four or five years in an organization, depending on their age when they were signed."
When you consider the players left unprotected, it makes the aforementioned moves seem questionable, at best. Among the players left exposed were first basemen Frank Schwindel and Ryan O’Hearn — at least one of the two seemed destined to be added. Outfielder Marten Gasparini is another notable player who now could be selected by another franchise in the Rule 5 draft.
Schwindel earned Triple-A player of the year for the Kansas City Royals this past season. He had 17 home runs and 72 RBI, while hitting .321/.340/.528 in 99 games for the Storm Chasers. O’Hearn (No. 14) and Gasparini (19), meanwhile, rank among the organization’s top 20 prospects, according to MLB.com. The former played 114 games in Omaha, but he couldn’t match Schwindel’s production. O’Hearn had one more homer but only 53 RBI and a .252/.325/.450 slash line. In 122 games with Lexington, Gasparini hit just .227/.274/.355 with nine home runs and 50 RBI.
How the roster additions performed in 2017
For what it’s worth, Viloria lands at No. 17 on those MLB.com rankings. Viloria’s only 20. But he signed as a 16-year-old, meaning he’s been with the Kansas City Royals long enough to need Rule 5 protection. Viloria played 101 games with Single-A Lexington this season. He hit to a rather unimpressive .259/.313/.394 line. Of his 94 hits, Viloria put up 25 doubles and eight home runs. He drove in 52 runs while scoring 42.
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Hill, who will turn 28 in February, spent the majority of his 2017 campaign with Northwest Arkansas. He had a 4.17 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 36 relief appearances across 69 innings. Hill also spent a little time with Wilmington, marking the second straight season he pitched for both of those Kansas City Royals affiliates.
As for Stout, who is the least surprising of the three additions, he excelled in a relief role for Triple-A Omaha in 2017. He closed out 23 of the 45 games in which he pitched, although only five of those were considered saves. The 24-year-old Stout posted a 5-2 record, 3.38 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in his 69 1/3 frames.
Next: Prospects who could impact Royals in 2018
What do you think? Do any of the roster moves surprise you? Do you think the organization will lose any players in the Rule 5 draft? What about add any? Let us know your thoughts.