Today’s minor league spotlight will take a look at the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, specifically the Mets prospects that are eligible, and who they’ll look to protect.  The Rule 5 Draft happens at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings, but the deadline to add players to the 40-man roster is November 20.

Just so everyone understands, eligible players are those that signed at age 19 or later with 4 minor league seasons, or guys that signed at age 18 or younger with 5 minor league seasons.  Essentially, college guys from the 2010 draft or high school guys from the 2009 draft are eligible for the first time this year, as well as guys that were eligible last year and still aren't on the 40-man roster.  There are also international free agents, most of whom get 5 seasons, as they generally sign around age 16.

The Mets usually add at least a handful of players each year, although this year they have little room on their 40-man roster unless they cut some players.  Also, I only see three players that are virtual locks to be protected: Jacob deGrom, Jeff Walters, and Steven Matz.  The Mets will really need deGrom next year either as rotation depth in AAA or as a power arm in the bullpen.  I expect Walters to contend for a spot in the Mets bullpen in spring training.  As for Matz, he’s only been healthy for one full season since getting drafted in 2009, but he’s arguably the Mets best pitching prospect behind Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, and he has enough stuff to hide in a bullpen for a full season, so if he’s left unprotected, the Mets could lose him.

There are a few guys that the Mets will consider protecting, but whether they have enough room for more than three remains to be seen.  Cory Vaughn will get some consideration, but his strikeout rate is incredibly high and he’s probably not an every day player in the big leagues, so losing him wouldn’t be the worst thing.  Erik Goeddel and Darin Gorski will also get consideration, as both could probably stick on a roster for a full season, but I doubt the Mets will use a roster spot on either one.  Aderlin Rodriguez is another guy to watch, as his power is tantalizing, especially for American League teams.  Ultimately, I’d be surprised if the Mets protected more than three or four players; they just don’t have the room on their roster.

Here is a full list of eligible players.

Here is a more complete write up on 10 players that could be protected.