NASHVILLE - Even if the Phillies do not make a trade at the Winter Meetings, they will still leave here with at least one new player to compete for a spot on the opening-day roster. The Phillies have the No. 1 pick in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, which marks the conclusion of the four-day event at the Opryland Resort.
On Monday, we profiled the players the Phillies could lose in the Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies chose to leave a few high-profile minor leaguers unprotected, hoping a team would not believe that the player could stick all season on a 25-man roster.
As of Tuesday morning, the Phillies had three openings on their 40-man roster. It would not be surprising to see them draft more than one player. They drafted two last season.
"There are players in multiple positions that have the upside and potential that can stick with our roster all year. We just have to decide what is the best fit," general manager Matt Klentak said. "Frankly, that's going to depend on how some of our other conversations go in the next few days with teams and agents. The last thing we want to do is take a player in the draft only to do something in free agents or a trade that would compromise the roster spot for a player we took in the draft. We lose the flexibility there, and there's an opportunity lost as well."
Here's a look at the players the Phillies could target in the draft on Thursday:
Wuilmer Becerra, outfielder, Mets: Becerra turned 21 in October, which makes him one of the youngest options for the Phillies. He has yet to play above single A. Becerra hit .290 and stole 16 bases last season in the South Atlantic League, the same league that is home to the Lakewood Blueclaws. Baseball America ranked him in October as the 10th-best prospect in the Mets system. Becerra is off to a strong start this winter in the Venezuelan Winter League with six hits in his first 16 at-bats. He could be a risky pick for the Phillies, but Becerra - like Odubel Herrera last year - seems to have a lot of upside.
Corey Black, righthanded pitcher, Cubs: Black spent his first three seasons as a starter before moving last season to the bullpen. The 24-year-old had a 4.92 ERA in 37 appearances last season in double A. He struck out 101 and walked 47 in 86 innings. His 5-foot-11 frame is not your ideal mold for a power pitcher. But Black's fastball sits in the high 90s. He also mixes in a nice slider, which gives him the needed two pitches to be an effective reliever.
Tyler Goeddel, outfielder, Rays: Goeddel was a first-round pick in 2011 as a third baseman out of high school. He moved last season to the outfield and spent time at all three outfield spots. He batted .279 with a .350 on-base percentage last season in his first year at double A. The 23-year-old has 108 steals in four seasons, including 28 last season.
T.J. Rivera, infielder, Mets: The 27-year-old spent time last season at second base, shortstop, and third base. He was promoted to triple A in May and hit .306 in 54 games before returning to double A. He finished the season batting .325 in 110 games. Rivera is off to a great start in the Puerto Rican Winter League with 15 hits in his first 44 at-bats. He was the league's rookie of the year last season.
Jabari Blash, outfielder, Mariners: Blash might be the best power hitter available in the Rule 5 draft. The righthander hit 32 homers last season in 116 games between double A and triple A. Blash, 26, started last season at triple A before he was sent to double A after a rough two weeks. He returned to triple A in July and finished the season with a .286 average, 20 homers, and 44 RBIs in his final 44 games.
Reymin Guduan, lefthanded pitcher, Houston: Guduan is a hard-throwing lefty with control problems. His fastball reaches 100 m.p.h. regularly, but he walked 33 last season in 45 2/3 innings. Guduan finished last season in double A, where he walked 19 batters and struck out 19 in 16 1/3 innings. He is spending the winter in the Dominican Republic. Guduan has walked eight this winter and struck out six in 10 2/3 innings. His control issues might be enough to keep the Phillies away.