I decided to rank the minor league players who are Rule 5 eligible and might be candidates to be added to the Twins 40 player major league roster. Roughly, these are college players drafted in 2006 and earlier and high school players taken in 2005 and earlier, as well as free agents signed at the same time. If they aren't on the roster, they can be taken by any other team in the rule 5 draft for $50,000. The hitch is that they would have to stay on that team's active roster for the full season or be returned to the Twins for $25,000.
The list of all possibilities is long, but here are the players who will at least get some serious consideration
High school players from 2005:
Ryan Mullins (correction Mullins was a college player when drafted)
College players from 2006:
Juan Morillo (Waiver Claim)
Rob Delaney (FA)
Wilson Ramos (FA)
Kyle Waldrop (2004 HS)
Deolis Guerra (Santana Trade)
Matt Fox (2004 College)
Ludovicus VanMil (FA)
Here is how I would rate that list:
Certain to be protected:
Wilson Ramos - (correction Ramos is already on the roster)
Those three are all top prospects who may be ready to play in the major leagues next year. Given their potential, a team would carry them on their roster for a year even if they aren't quite yet ready.
The remaining candidates in order of how likely they are to be taken in the Rule 5 draft:
I place a premium on pitching because pitchers are most tempting to teams since there is more flexibility in letting a pitcher develop at the major league level than a position player. Waldrop was a high draft choice coming back from injury, which will put him on other teams' radars. Burnett looks like he could be a closer candidate. I may be overrating Van Mil, but his height and his fastball make him a tempting target. Mullins is a lefty who looks like he may just about be ready to help at the major league level. Morillo is one of the hardest throwers in baseball. If he ever harnesses that talent he will be special.
Singleton and Valencia are both college position players. Neither one has a huge upside, but both may be close enough to major league ready to hold a roster spot on a team that is building for the future. I suspect that the Twins will protect Valencia since they have a hole at third base to fill.
Fox, Slama and Delaney are all longshots to be protected. Fox is the most interesting. A high draft choice who has come back from injury, he has been a consistent performer. The question is whether he has enough upside. Slama and Delaney have performed well as older players pitching against younger competition. The question is whether they can make the leap to the big leagues. My guess is not, but there may be teams that will take the risk.
After all their free agents leave, the Twins will have only two openings on the 40 player roster. So one consideration is going to be who the Twins are willing to give up to provide room for even the top three players on this list. That is a topic for another day.(see correction - with Ramos already on the Twins roster, there are only two players on the certain to be protected list.)
* Morillo may be a 6 year minor league free agent if he isn't added to the roster.