After another disappointing season, the Miami Marlins once again find themselves with an early selection in the MLB Rule 5 Draft. The Rule 5 will take place on December 7 at the annual Winter Meetings. The Marlins hold the 9th overall pick. As a consequence of last year’s lockout, the MLB phase of the 2021 Rule 5 was canceled. Things are back to normal this time with a deep class of unprotected players who are worth considering.
Something to note is that for the Marlins to make a selection, they need to have space on their 40-man roster (as of Monday morning, their 40-man is at 39). To keep draftees long term, they need to spend the whole 2023 MLB season on the active 26-man roster or injured list (cannot be sent down to minors).
Rule 5 guys who have received major league playing time with the Marlins in recent years include Elieser Hernandez (2017 draft), Sterling Sharp (2019), Paul Campbell (2020), Zach Pop (2020 selection by Diamondbacks who was traded to Marlins) and Charles Leblanc (2021).
In no specific order, I believe that the following Rule 5-eligible players could be good fits for the Marlins.
Dominic Canzone, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
2022 Stats (Rk/AA/AAA): .300 BA, .367 OBP, .541 SLG, .908 OPS, 22 HR, 89 RBI
Canzone is the exact type of prospect who makes sense for the Marlins. A high-OBP player who hits for contact and has had solid walk rates throughout his minor league career, he took a big step forward as a run producer in 2022. Although Canzone has played center field in the past, he has mainly been used in left and right field as a pro. If he is not taken earlier in Rule 5, the Marlins could give him a big role on their team immediately.
Victor Vodnik, RHP, Atlanta Braves
2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 2-0, 2.34 ERA, 31 G, 34.2 IP, 47 SO, 19 BB, 1.413 WHIP
Vodnik may be the top prize of this draft class. When healthy, his fastball-changeup combination gets plenty of whiffs and grounders. It is doubtful that he drops to Miami, but if he does, I see him as a reliever who can pitch in high-leverage situations and maybe move over to a closer role in the future.
Yolbert Sánchez, SS, Chicago White Sox
2022 Stats (AA/AAA): .287 BA, .346 OBP, .344 SLG, .690 OPS, 3 HR, 46 RBI
The Marlins have recently made trades to acquire Xavier Edwards and Jordan Groshans, who are similar types of players to Yolbert Sánchez. Yolbert has little-to-no power, but can get on base at a very efficient rate and has the versatility to move around the infield. Sánchez is only a few years removed from receiving a $2.5 million signing bonus, so that shows you how highly he was regarded as a prospect based on his success in Cuba.
Corey Julks, OF, Houston Astros
2022 Stats (AAA): .270 BA, .351 OBP, .503 SLG, .854 OPS, 31 HR, 89 RBI
Julks is the oldest player that I’ll mention in this article—he turns 27 in February. He ranked tied for 3rd in the Pacific Coast League in homers while posting a better-than-average strikeout rate. He’s ready to be tested at the highest level. He played 5 different defensive positions in 2022.
Malcom Nuñez, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates
2022 Stats (AA/AAA): .262 BA, .367 OBP, .466 SLG, .833 OPS, 23 HR, 88 RBI
Malcom Nuñez is a former St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguer who was sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the José Quintana trade this past trade deadline. Nuñez provides the potential for power hitting and high on-base percentages, which is important because he will likely be limited to 1st base and DH moving forward. He is entering his age-22 season.
Matt Gorski, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
2022 Stats (A/A+/AA/AAA): .280 BA, .358 OBP, .598 SLG, .956 OPS, 24 HR, 66 RBI
At 6’4”, 198 pounds, Gorski is built bigger than most center fielders, but there’s no rush to move him off of the position yet. He was having a phenomenal 2022 season until suffering a quad injury (which also kept him out of the Arizona Fall League). Gorski would be somewhat of a risky pick in the Rule 5 because of his limited experience in the upper minors and his occasional strikeout issues.
Tirso Ornelas, OF, San Diego Padres
2022 Stats (AA/AAA): .286 BA, .353 OBP, .404 SLG, .757 OPS, 7 HR, 53 RBI
The only player here who actually did play in the fall league, Ornelas slashed .293/.369/.414 in 16 games. He has steadily improved offensively, developing into the rare type of left-handed hitter who puts up good numbers against lefty pitching—that’s a need for the Marlins at the moment. The Mexican left fielder is a candidate to fall into the 2nd round of the Rule 5. If the Marlins decide to make multiple picks this year, Ornelas might be somebody to take a flyer on.