Rockies protect four, leave one top prospect unprotected ahead of Rule 5 draft

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Ahead of the 6 p.m. deadline, the Colorado Rockies added four players to their 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.

Basically the quick of what the Rule 5 draft is according to Baseball America: "Major league teams must protect players on their 40-man rosters within a few years of their original signing. Those left unprotected are available to other teams as Rule 5 picks."

The downside to protecting players is it starts their clocks which clubs have three years, sometimes four, of options before they must stay in the majors. To remove players from the 40-man roster it exposes players to other teams anyway. The catch to the Rule 5 draft is that players who are taken must spend the entire next season with their new club in the major leagues.

Today the Rockies protected Yonathan Daza, Sam Howard, Chris Rabago and Jesus Tinoco.

Daza is a right-handed outfielder that stole 31 bases at High-A Lancaster in 2017. He's 23-years-old and batted .341 for the playoff-bound JetHawks. The Rockies like his defensive abilities, six-foot-two frame, and speed. Dana could project as a fourth outfielder in the future.

Howard is the Rockies No. 12 prospect according to MLB.com. The 24-year-old left-handed-throwing pitcher is expected to make his MLB debut sometime in 2018. He works at 91-94 mph and touches 96 mph with a fastball that has had sink at times. the past. He has a good changeup that plays on righties and he's working on a slider. The 2014 third round pick out of Georgia Southern University posted a 2.33 ERA at Double-A Hartford in 46.1 innings in 2017 before jumping to Triple-A where he posted a 3.89 ERA in 81 innings. Between the two levels, he compiled a 5-8 record with a 1.225 WHIP.

Rabago is a 24-year-old right-handed hitting catcher that was selected in the 13th round of the 2014 draft out of University of California, Irvine. In 2017, he spent the season with High-A Lancaster where he played in 89 games and slashed .272/.350/.393 with 27 extra base knocks and 43 homers. The converted middle infielder stole 25 bases last year. He played in the Arizona Fall League in 2015 and fills in an obvious gap for the Rockies at catcher where they only have two currently on the roster, Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy.

Tinoco, acquired in the Troy Tulowitzki trade, had a massive rebound year at High-A Lancaster. The once top 15 prospect of the Rockies as ranked by Purple Row has fallen out of many outlets top 30s after a bad 2016. This past season the 22-year-old righty tossed 140.2 innings to the tune of an 11-4 record with a 4.67 ERA for the JetHawks. Tinoco was honored several times for the south division-winning California League club.

The most interesting moves of the day were the moves the Rockies didn't make, particularly one.

Catcher Dom Nunez who had firmly held as one the of the Rockies top prospects for as long as he's been in the system was left unprotected. Currently ranked at 15 in the Rockies system, the left-handed hitting backstop had a rough year for Double-A Hartford where he just squeaked past the Mendoza Line. In 95 games he still OPS'd .689 which shows his power but soon-to-be 23-year-old former sixth-round pick should be fine because of his numbers last season.

Josh Fuentes, the cousin of Nolan Arenado, had a solid year for the Yard Goats in his age 24 season. The right-handed corner infielder slashed .307/.352/.517 and was an all-star for the level. He slugged 15 homers and drove in 72 runs. He has been left unprotected.

Jerry Vasto, a left-handed throwing reliever that spent 2016 as a closer for High-A then Double-A was a horse in the Isotopes pen last season. The 25-year-old threw 53.2 innings but had a not-so-great 6.88 ERA and 1.677 WHIP. On the upside, he did have a sweet 10.4 strikeouts per nine. Vasto, unprotected, is probably the most likely to be picked up from the Rockies despite the numbers.

The Rockies 40-man roster is now at 37.

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