Everything you need to know about SF Giants prospects and the Rule 5 draft

San Francisco Giants No. 12 prospect Aeverson Arteaga
San Francisco Giants No. 12 prospect Aeverson Arteaga / Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA

Even for the most hardened San Francisco Giants fans, no one would blame you if you haven't heard of the Rule 5 draft. Compared to the hype surrounding, say, the NFL draft, baseball prospects that have been around for a while are easily forgotten about, given the high volume of players brought in every year and the very small percentage of them who actually make it to the major leagues. Of course, prospects do matter; every household name in baseball started as one of many names rattled off in one of 20 drafting rounds every year.

The Rule 5 draft is a supplemental one and isn't televised, meaning that it has even fewer eyes on it than the regular draft. However, it can still impact a team's future and the structure of their top prospect pool. Here are the basics of the Rule 5 draft.

What is the Rule 5 draft?

Winter Meetings will be held in Nashville from Dec. 3-6, and one of the items on the docket will be the Rule 5 draft. The Rule 5 draft is made up of minor leaguers who have been in a team's farm system for 4-5 years, depending on their age when they were drafted. They become available for pickup (for a fee of $100,000 to the player's original team) by teams who don't have a full 40-man roster. After a player is picked up, there are some more convoluted steps, but that's the gist of things.

The teams without a full 40-man can draft any available prospect (and there are a lot of them), going in reverse order of the 2023 standings. A player can be protected from the draft by being placed on his team's 40-man roster. The deadline to do so this year is Nov. 14.

The draft was developed over half a century ago to keep top talent from being stockpiled by a few organizations, and to give players who have been in the minors for a considerable amount of time more of an opportunity to find success with a different club.

SF Giants prospects eligible for the Rule 5 draft

Grant McCray (No. 7)
Aeverson Arteaga (No. 12)
Jairo Pomares (No. 17)
Trevor McDonald (No. 22)
Onil Perez (No. 24)
Adrian Sugastey (No. 25)
Erik Miller (No. 29)

Seven of the Giants' top 30 prospects are eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year. MLB.com ranked the Giants farm system 14th at the midseason mark, given the promotion of three top prospects to the major leagues during the season, and the forecasted emergence of two more starting in 2023 and ramping up into the 2024 season. Accordingly, the Giants top 30 prospect list saw some shuffle in 2023, with a lot of top talent being brought up in a short amount of time.

Which Giants prospects will be protected from the Rule 5 draft?

The Giants currently have 36 men on their 40-man roster, so they have four open spots they could use to protect some of their Rule 5 prospects. However, it's important to remember that just because a player goes into the draft doesn't guarantee they'll be picked up by another team; the majority of draftees will ultimately stay with their original team. Protecting a player indicates that the player is thought of as especially valuable to his organization, so the organization takes an extra step to retain him.

That being said, all of the vulnerable Giants prospects with the exception of Erik Miller, who has been between Double- and Triple-A in 2022 and 2023, are in High-A ball. None of them have broken through that ceiling and some, including No. 12 prospect Aeverson Arteaga, are struggling there. If the Giants decide to protect anyone, it would probably be No. 7 Grant McCray, who put up a decent .255/.360/.417 this year. With two of the Giants top 30 prospects in Kyle Harrison and Marco Luciano expected to become more major players in the big league club next year, it would be sensible for the Giants to secure the absolute top of their farm system to continue to develop it.