Yankees take hits in Rule 5, lose three pitching prospects

Yankees prospects with farm coach Rachel Balkovec
Sara Molnick
Thursday December 14, 2023

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The Yankees’ non-roster pitching depth suffered a setback in last week’s Rule 5 draft as three right-handers left unprotected were chosen by other teams in the major league portion of the draft.

Mitch Spence was the first pick, selected by the Athletics, followed by the Royals grabbing Matt Sauer with the second pick. The Rangers later selected Carson Coleman as the 23rd pick. In total, 10 players were selected during the Rule 5 draft.

Yankees pitching prospect Mitch Spence
Mitch Spence/X

Spence, aged 25, spent the recent season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, recording a 4.47 ERA over a significant 163 innings in the minor leagues. Sauer, aged 24, was the Yankees’ second-round pick in 2017, facing a slower development due to injuries. He pitched to a 3.42 ERA over 68 ⅓ innings at Double-A Somerset this year. Coleman, a 25-year-old reliever, missed the entire 2023 season following elbow surgery.

All three players—Spence, Sauer, and Coleman—were excluded from the Yankees’ 40-man roster before last month’s deadline. They are now obligated to spend the entirety of 2024 on their new team’s major league roster; otherwise, they will be subject to return to the Yankees for a fee of $50,000.

Yankees pitching prospect Matt Sauer
Matt Sauer/X

In the past Rule 5 drafts, the Yankees suffered notable losses, with Garrett Whitlock going to the Red Sox and Trevor Stephan to the Guardians.

Yankees pitching prospect Carson Coleman
Somerset Patriots

This week, the Yankees are witnessing changes in their upper-level pitching depth. Alongside the three pitchers acquired by other teams in the Rule 5 draft, they also traded Richard Fitts to the Red Sox, forming part of a package deal for Alex Verdugo. Additionally, there’s a possibility of trading Michael King, Drew Thorpe, and other pitchers to the Padres for Juan Soto, with the blockbuster deal gaining momentum on Wednesday.

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