NASHVILLE - The Phillies will end their stay in Nashville on Thursday by picking first in the Rule 5 Draft. General Matt Klentak and his staff have scoured the list of available players, looking for a gem that can stick on their major league roster for an entire season.
But along with finding a gem this year, the Phillies could potentially lose players of their own. Outfield prospect Carlos Tocci and righthanded pitcher Alberto Tirado are some of the players that the Phillies opted to leave unprotected before Thursday morning's draft. Klentak said his staff spent a lot of time on choosing what players they wanted to protect. It was one of the first topics he tackled at the organizational meetings after he was hired.
"Ultimately, we made the decisions that we did" Klentak said. "There's two factors, probably there's more than two, but there's at least two. One, is what is the potential of the player. The long term potential of the player. And that's important in the case of (Tocci and Tirado). We like those players. But the second component, and we have to balance the two, is what is the likelihood that the player is able to stick on a big league roster all year. You can't protect everybody. So we tried to take both of those factors into consideration and make the best decision that we can."
Here's a look at some of the players the Phillies could lose:
Carlos Tocci, outfielder, high-A Clearwater: Tocci batted .258 in 66 games last season after being promoted in June to Clearwater. He will not turn 21 until August, which could help the Phillies chances of him going unselected. Tocci is a strong defender and could bat near the top of the order once he reaches the majors. Baseball America ranked Tocci in November as the Phillies tenth best prospect.
Alberto Tirado, righthanded pitcher, high-A Clearwater: The Phillies acquired Tirado last July from Toronto in exchange for Ben Revere. His fastball registers in the high-90s, which could make Tirado a key back-of-the-bullpen piece. Along with Tirado's lack of high-level experience, his biggest knock is his command. The 20-year-old walked 53 batters last season in 77.1 innings. The Phillies would hope Tirado goes unselected especially if the team decides to part with closer Ken Giles. Tirado and fellow flamethrower Jimmy Cordero, who was acquired in the same trade with Toronto, are the best in-house candidates to replace Giles as the team's closer of the future. Cordero was added to the 40-man roster in November, protecting him in the Rule 5 draft.
Gabriel Lino, catcher, triple-A Lehigh Valley: Lino's chances of being selected hinge on another team's need for a backup catcher, which is historically one of the most popular picks of the Rule 5 draft. Lino was acquired in 2012 when the Phillies dealt Jim Thome to Baltimore. He is a strong defensive catcher, who proved last season to be a sufficient enough hitter. Reading manager Dusty Wathan raved last season about Lino's defense and game calling. He labeled the trade with Baltimore "a steal" for the Phillies. The 22-year-old was promoted to Lehigh Valley after batting .266 in 109 at-bats with Reading. He was unprotected largely because of the team's minor-league depth at catcher. The Phillies already have Andrew Knapp, who won last year's Paul Owens Award, and Jorge Alfaro, who was acquired from Texas as part of the Cole Hamels trade.
Brock Stassi, first base, double-A Reading: Stassi was last season's MVP of the Eastern League after hitting .300 with 15 homers and 90 RBIs in 133 games. The 26-year-old has spent the last two seasons at double A. He may have been promoted last year to Lehigh Valley had Reading not been in a playoff race. He was drafted in 2011's 33rd round and was never expected to amount to much more than an organizational player. But, Stassi has defied the odds so far. Perhaps a team will take a chance on him. Art Charles, who split first-base duties with Stassi at Reading, is also unprotected.