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Rule 5 draft: A’s add two prospects in minor league phase; MLB portion postponed

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Two prospects in, one prospect out

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Ben Green/Getty Images

The annual MLB Rule 5 draft was scheduled for Dec. 8, but with the majors frozen in a lockout during labor negotiations, the event was postponed indefinitely.

However, there is also a minor league phase to the draft, in which the chosen players are not added to the major league 40-man roster. Since minor leaguers are not locked out and can still participate in transactions, this part of the draft went on as planned.

The Oakland A’s made two selections, and also saw one of their own players taken away by another team. Here are the 2021 results:

A’s picks

  • OF Gabriel Maciel from MIN (1st round)
  • OF Vince Fernandez from SFG (2nd round)

Picked from A’s

  • IF Cobie Vance by MIA (3rd round)

In a normal year, the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft is just a footnote after the MLB portion. These players are not required to stay on the MLB roster or even make it there at all, usually slotting in as upper-minors depth. They rarely reach the majors, and even less frequently make a serious impact.

That said, five members of last winter’s Triple-A phase did appear in the bigs with their new clubs over the summer, so it’s not unheard of. Among them, A’s fans might remember Yohel Pozo of the Rangers, who hit a clutch go-ahead homer against Oakland in August, and meanwhile in Arizona Tyler Gilbert threw 40 solid innings for the D’Backs as a swingman. As recently as 2019, the A’s called up Corban Joseph for 11 games after picking him up in this fashion.

There could be a lot of opportunity for playing time in Oakland in 2022, and every so often a Triple-A Rule 5 pick earns a cup of coffee or more, so let’s see who the A’s added.

Gabriel Maciel | OF

  • 2021, A+ (MIN): .238/.311/.311, 76 wRC+, 2 HR, 17 SB, 9.4 BB%, 18.9% Ks

Maciel began his career in the D’Backs system, then moved to the Twins in 2018 in a trade for Eduardo Escobar. Last season he played in High-A at age 22, his second tour at that level after also playing there in 2019.

His scouting report matches up with his most recent stat line. His top strengths are his speed and defense, and he can play center field. At the plate he’s a switch-hitter with decent plate discipline and contact skill, and his wheels help him swipe some bases, but he doesn’t have much power. Click here for details from MLB Pipeline’s writeup from 2019.

Last winter, Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs left Maciel off his Twins Top 39 prospects, saying the following: “Maciel is a 70 runner but I don’t see an offensive impact enabling anything more than a fifth outfielder there.”

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Vince Fernandez | OF

  • 2021, AA (SFG): .229/.331/.470, 115 wRC+, 14 HR, 9.9% BB, 33.4% Ks

This is the second straight year that Fernandez has been chosen in the Triple-A phase of Rule 5. Last winter the Giants picked him from the Rockies, and now the A’s snag him away from the Giants. He spent last summer in Double-A at age 25 (turned 26 in July), after playing at the same level in 2019.

His scouting report revolves around lefty power, but with the red flag of huge strikeout rates throughout his career. On defense he profiles as a corner outfielder, where his speed and arm are decent. Click here for a pre-2019 scouting report from Purple Row.

Hernandez was suspended for a PED violation in June 2019, missing 50 games. Entering the 2020 season, Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs said the following: “Fernandez was suspended for amphetamine usage last year [2019] and he only hit .235 with two dingers after he returned. We’re still on him as a 55 raw power corner guy who walks and hits the ball in the air a lot, but he’s gotta come out of the gate hot in 2020 or he’s falling off the list.”

Extra fun fact: Hernandez is a local East Bay product! He was born in Livermore and graduated from Granada High School.

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Oakland also lost one player from their organization, as the Marlins drafted away utilityman Cobie Vance. He played for High-A Lansing last year at age 23, serving as a versatile defender at six different positions — mostly infield, but also a bit of outfield. At the plate, the right-hander showed decent plate discipline and stole 11 bags.

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The odds of seeing Maciel or Fernandez in Oakland next summer are low, but it’s not impossible. Pozo hadn’t played above High-A when the Rangers picked him last winter, and then after mashing in Triple-A for a few months he got the call up to a rebuilding Texas squad in August.

Welcome to the two newest A’s prospects! Stay tuned for the usual MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft, which is hopefully coming later this winter after the owners and players association agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and end the lockout.