Cincinnati Reds: This left-handed prospect may offer relief in Rule 5 Draft

SARASOTA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 20: Thomas Burrows #79 of the Atlanta Braves throws live batting practice. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
SARASOTA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 20: Thomas Burrows #79 of the Atlanta Braves throws live batting practice. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Reds could pounce on a few arms during the Rule 5 Draft.

The Rule 5 Draft is held every year at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings. This year, the Winter Meetings will be held virtually, but the Rule 5 Draft will still take center stage on the final day of the event. Several talented players were left unprotected, and with the lack of depth in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, don’t be shocked if Nick Krall selects left-hander Thomas Burrows.

Before we get into Burrows and what he could bring to the Reds, let’s take a quick peek at the provisions surrounding the Rule 5 Draft. Any player who is not protected by inclusion on the team’s 40-man roster is eligible. However, the player must have four years of professional experience if signed after age 19 or five years experience if signed at age 18 or younger.

Should a team choose to select a player through the Rule 5 Draft, as Cincinnati did last year with Mark Payton, the club must pay $100,000 for the rights to the player. That player must remain on the active roster for the entire 162-game season or be offered back to his former ball club for $50,000.

This year, the Cincinnati Reds added Vladimir Gutierrez, Jared Solomon, and Riley O’Brien to the their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft. However, players like Alfredo Rodriguez and TJ Friedl were left unprotected. Cincinnati has four open spots currently on the roster.

One of those spots could be filled by Atlanta Braves prospect Thomas Burrows. The southpaw was a fourth-round selection of the Seattle Mariners in 2016 and left unprotected by the Braves. Burrows, like many minor leaguers, was out of baseball last season.

The Reds do not have many left-handed relievers on their roster. If fact, there’s just one, Amir Garrett. Garrett is one of the best left-handed relief pitchers in the National League, but AG cannot be counted on for a full 162-game season. Cincinnati is going to need some reinforcements.

The Reds tried last season with Brooks Raley, but he was eventually traded to the Houston Astros. The year before, Zach Duke was supposed to fill that role. But, after a disastrous few outings, Duke was designated for assignment. Cincinnati traded away one of their best left-handed prospects, Packy Naughton, who was strangely left unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft by the Los Angeles Angels.

Maybe Burrows could be the answer. The 26-year-old has yet to make his big league debut and has consistently been used as a reliever. Burrows is a strike thrower, owning a 24.5% strikeout-rate over his last four minor league stops according to FanGraphs. Unfortunately, Burrows also a bit erratic, owning a walk-rate as high as 14.6% during that same span.

Burrows, however, does have a penchant for keeping the ball in the yard. The left-hander has kept his HR/9 sitting at 0.3 throughout his entire minor league career and has surrendered just seven round trippers over 200-plus innings in the minors.

Pursuit of Straily assures Cincy is done with Bauer. Next

The Cincinnati Reds are in need of left-handed pitchers to pair with Amir Garrett this next season. Perhaps Thomas Burrows is what they’re looking for. Lefties hit just .173 off Burrows in 2019 and had an OPS of just .501. That’s the type of pitcher Cincinnati needs to be looking for this offseason.