November 19th marked the deadline for MLB teams to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft by adding them to their respective 40-man rosters. The Diamondbacks started the day with a full 40-man roster, so moves were going to have to be made for the team to be able to make new additions. As part of those moves, the Diamondbacks have added pitcher Ryan Weiss and catcher Cooper Hummel to the roster while outrighting pitchers Miguel Aguilar, Kevin Ginkel, and Riley Smith to AAA Reno. In addition, outfield prospect Kristian Robinson was initially added to the 40-man roster before being placed on the Restricted List.
The Diamondbacks added Cooper Hummel, Kristian Robinson and Ryan Weiss to the 40-man roster. Miguel Aguilar, Kevin Ginkel and Riley Smith were outrighted to Triple-A.— Zach Buchanan (@ZHBuchanan) November 19, 2021
Left unprotected from the Rule 5 draft are notable prospects like Levi Weaver, Buddy Kennedy and Matt Tabor.
These moves leave Levi Kelly, Buddy Kennedy, Matt Tabor exposed to the Rule 5 Draft, with all three almost certain to be selected.
Weiss was a 4th round pick in 2018 that has steadily climbed up the system and pitched well as a starter in AA before taking the jump to Reno. Weiss got hit around a bit in Reno, but had some decent peripherals out of the bullpen there. He will certainly provide depth with the MLB bullpen as an up and down arm the next couple seasons thanks to having all three options to work with. Weiss has made improvements in his mechanics, pushing his fastball velocity from the low to mid 90s while incorporating a full mix of pitches.
Hummel was a deadline acquisition when the team traded Eduardo Escobar to the Milwaukee Brewers. Hummel is a switch hitter that can catch and main the corner positions on both the infield and outfield, which could give the D-backs some roster flexibility on the bench. Carson Kelly is entrenched as the starter behind the plate and top prospect Daulton Varsho is commanding playing time. Having Hummel on the roster could allow the team to play Varsho in the outfield on an everyday basis to get the latter’s bat in the lineup more consistently. Hummel is an on-base machine with enough pop to punish pitches in the heart of the zone, making him a very attractive bench option for the team.
Robinson was the team’s highest paid free agent from the 2017 International class and reached A ball late in the 2019 season. The pandemic followed by the VISA troubles stemming from his assault of a police officer has kept him away from the field the past couple years. Robinson has the highest ceiling of any position player in the D-backs system, with plus power and speed grades, although he hasn’t quite put everything together yet at the plate. He could be a feast or famine hitter that can provide good outfield defense, the key will be getting him to make fewer outs when he isn’t launching baseballs very far. It’s clear the team will give him as many chances as they can afford to get it right due to that talent.
Hazen said Robinson has completed his 100 hours of community service. My understanding is he is now waiting to get before a judge to see if his felony charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor, as per his plea agreement.— Zach Buchanan (@ZHBuchanan) November 19, 2021
Kelly was an 8th round pick in 2018 that entered 2020 as one of the team’s top pitching prospects but struggled with shoulder ailments for 2021 that affected his control. When healthy he could hit 96+ with the fastball and a wipeout slider that made him a potential option as a late-inning arm. Kelly may be one of the first players taken in the draft if a team feels they can get him back to 2020 form as a back-end option in the pen with some future starter upside if they’re able to build him up.
Tabor was a 3rd round pick in 2017 that had made steady progress up the system. Tabor’s fastball sits in the low 90s as a starter with a swing-and-miss change-up and a below average slider. In 2021, he pitched between the team’s AA and AAA affiliate. He had solid peripherals with walks and strikeouts, but struggled with loud contact and home runs. I thought he could be a depth option in the rotation the next couple years, but the team has decided to leave him off the 40.
Kennedy isn’t a highly regarded prospect in the system, but is coming off a good year with the team’s High A and AA affiliate. He hit .278/.384/.536 with the team’s AA affiliate with 17 homers and a wRC+ of 143. However the issue is more about his glove than his bat, as he’s likely to be end up either at 1B or 2B with below average marks there. The team certainly could use a right-handed bat on the infield, but Kennedy’s lack of defensive viability could be what left him off the 40 man roster.
It will be interesting to see how the Rule 5 Draft plays out next month and if any of those three guys end up in different organizations.