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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, Kevin Smith
Toronto Blue Jays infielder Kevin Smith (78) fields a ground ball during an intra-squad game in summer training at the Rogers Centre. (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Rule 5 Draft Infielders: Jose Rojas (Angels), Kevin Smith (Blue Jays), Kyle Holder (Yankees)

Jose Rojas is the least likely to be selected by the SF Giants because it’s hard to envision them adding any more infielders who cannot play shortstop, but if they did, it would be hard to blame them. While he will turn 28 in February, Rojas did not turn pro until he was 24 and hit 31 home runs alongside a .292/.362/.577 triple-slash at the Pacific Coast League in 2019. The year prior he hit .304/.381/.554. Limited athletically though, his defensive profile is weaker than recently signed infielder Jason Vosler’s.

After a breakout 2018 season, Kevin Smith was in the conversation for some top-100 prospect lists. Capable of playing an average defensive shortstop, with the flexibility to move around the diamond, Smith looked capable of making enough contact for his above-average power to play in the bigs. However, the bottom fell out at Double-A. While he hit 19 home runs, he posted a measly .209/.263/.402 triple-slash with a 32.3% strikeout rate. Then he turned around and struck out in 38 of his 67 plate appearances at the Arizona Fall League.

On the positive side of things, Smith was in the Eastern League, a notoriously difficult environment for hitters, especially those who hit for power. Furthermore, his strikeout rate was more palatable against southpaws, in line with his career trend. If the Giants thought he could play the role they acquired Daniel Robertson to play, he could offer a bit more upside.

Kyle Holder follows Ryan Howard’s (Giants prospect not the former Phillies slugger) profile with far better defensive ability. Holder was one of the best defensive amateur shortstops when he was drafted and he remains a top option with the glove. His career .264/.317/.350 triple-slash leaves a lot to be desired, but he puts the ball in play at a decent clip.

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