SF Giants Rule 5 Draft Preview

New York Yankees pitcher Trevor Stephan (81) pitches during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees pitcher Trevor Stephan (81) pitches during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports) /
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SF Giants, Buddy Reed
Former Padres top prospect Buddy Reed is available in the Rule 5 Draft and should be of interest to teams like the SF Giants. /

Rule 5 Draft Outfielders: Buddy Reed (Athletics), Lazaro Armenteros (Athletics), Jeren Kendall (Dodgers), T.J. Friedl (Reds)

If this was a regular draft, it’s hard to envision Buddy Reed, Lazaro Armenteros, or Jeren Kendall available, but all appear too far away from their ceiling to warrant a spot on an MLB roster. Still, teams so rarely are able to retain selections anyway. They should probably be more willing to gamble on upside. If the pick probably is not going to work out anyway, why not go for a player with big tools?

Reed and Armenteros have been two of my favorites prospects in baseball and both still have a shot to be really good players.

Armenteros is just 21 years old and debuted in full-season ball at 19. In 2019, at High-A Stockton, he hit 17 home runs, stole 22 bases (28 attempts), and walked in 13.6% of his plate appearances. However, he struck out 227 times. The odds are, he is not yet developed enough to handle big-league pitching, but he still has potential plus power and speed.

Reed is a more feasible selection but is far from a sure thing. Unlike Armenteros, Reed is already one of the best defensive center fielders in the minor leagues, using his elite speed and arm well. At the plate though, Reed has never torn the cover off the ball and hit just .228/.310/.388 at Double-A in 2019. He went undrafted in the Rule 5 Draft last season and probably will again, but would be a really interesting fit for a Giants team that could use a fourth outfielder.

Jeren Kendall was the Dodgers first-round pick while both Zaidi and SF Giants manager Gabe Kapler were with the organization. Like Armenteros, he nearly posted a 20-20 season at High-A in 2019. However, he is three years older than Armenteros and was repeating the level. He is a left-handed hitter and capable of playing center field, but he’s far from a ready-made platoon option.

T.J. Friedl lacks the upside of the trio but is probably far more likely to be drafted on Thursday. He has never slugged above .420 over a minor-league season, but can play center field, walks at an above-average clip, and has always had good bat-to-ball skills. He only hit .235/.347/.385 at Double-A in 2019, but he played a significant portion of the season with a broken bone in his foot. As a left-handed hitter, he could be a potential platoon option with Mauricio Dubòn in center.