MLB Rule 5 Draft: Yankees prospects to watch

Organizational depth has proven to be one of the key components to the Yankees' success in recent years, and there are a number of minor leaguers who will likely draw interest from around the league when the Rule 5 Draft takes place at the Winter Meetings on December 12 in San Diego.

There are plenty of complexities to the annual Rule 5 Draft (the roots of which date as far back as 1892!) but the gist of it, via Andrew Simon of MLB.com, is as follows:

"Any club with an open spot on its 40-man roster is eligible to make a selection. Teams pick in reverse order of record ... Players on an organization's 40-man roster are protected from the Rule 5 Draft. To be eligible for selection, a player must either have spent four seasons in professional baseball after signing at age 19 or older, or spent five seasons in pro ball after signing at 18 or younger ... A team that makes a selection pays a player's previous team $100,000 and places the player on its 40-man roster, then must keep the player on the 25-man roster or disabled list for the whole season. (He must be active for at least 90 days, so teams can't hide him on the DL the whole time.) If the acquiring team removes the player from the big league roster, it must offer him back to the former team for $50,000."
Oftentimes teams will strike up deals just before the Rule 5 Draft in order to avoid losing players for nothing, as it so happened with right-hander Erik Swanson in the James Paxton trade with Seattle one year ago to the day.

"We've got our list in our mind of who has to go," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recently said regarding which players the team will eventually add to the 40-man roster, "but I'm not about to say who they are."

One new wrinkle with the Rule 5 Draft decision-making process this offseason is the impending expansion of MLB rosters from 25 players to 26, which could encourage teams to take more risks in the hopes of finding a player that sticks in the big leagues.

The Rule 5 Draft is still a few weeks away, but these five players could find themselves on the Yankees' 40-man roster by Wednesday evening. As it stands now, the Yankees have 36 players and four open roster spots on the 40-man.

RHP Deivi Garcia - At just 20 years old, Garcia was one of the breakout stars in the Yankees minor league system in 2019, and was recently named by Baseball Prospectus as the team's No. 1 prospect heading into next season. Garcia averaged more than 13 strikeouts per nine innings pitched last year (13.3 K/9), and is a very safe bet to find his way onto the 40-man roster before Wednesday's deadline.

OF Estevan Florial - Still just 21 years old, Florial boasts some of the most impressive physical tools for any prospect in the organization, and was rated by BP as the Yankees No. 7 prospect for next season. Florial has been limited by injuries over the last couple years, but his ceiling as a skilled and speedy centerfielder makes him a very promising young player.

1B/DH Chris Gittens - This year's Eastern League MVP Award winner, Gittens was a two-way stud for the Eastern League champion Trenton Thunder, slashing .281/.393/.500 with 23 home runs and 77 RBI over 115 games. Gittens, 25, was also an Eastern League All-Star last year, and led the league in home runs, RBI, on-base percentage and slugging.

RHP Luis Gil - Another of the numerous young right-handers in the Yankees farm system, Gil is regarded as New York's No. 5 prospect for 2020 after striking out 123 batters over 96 frames in the minor leagues last season. The 21-year-old hurler was dubbed a 'no-brainer' by MLB Pipeline's Jonathan Mayo to be added to the 40-man roster.

RHP Luis Medina - Another electric arm from the right side, Medina's fastball has reached upwards of 100 mph and marks one of the most overpowering heaters in the organization. If he can harness that power and add it to an improving arsenal of off-speed pitches, Medina "has the upside of a frontline starter," per MLB.com.