Thanks to Anthony Boyer for giving me this question.
Which one Rule 5-eligible player should we be most concerned about losing, and why?
It's tough to answer since we don't know who the Astros will protect. You traditionally expect rule five guys to come from AA or AAA but the Astros have two high end pitching prospects below there that are tricky.
Vincent Velasquez has had injuries that have slowed his development and may scare some teams off, but his stuff and his inclusion in the Arizona Fall League will give teams every opportunity to know get plenty of information on him. He'll be protected.
Then there's the Future's Game participant, Michael Feliz, who has been in Low-A this year but has drawn rave reviews. He's one of the Astros top pitching prospects and would be quite painful to lose. However, he's so far away that teams may be apprehensive to take him. But, the upside may be worth the risk for a team to attempt to stash him in a bullpen.
Then there's Danry Vazquez whom I really like, but is likely too raw of a prospect to be considered and I think will be left exposed and likely undrafted.
There are several marginal prospects that are in the upper levels whom will be exposed. But, in reality, they will be left exposed and left undrafted.
I think Nick Tropeano and Delino DeShields will be protected. The rest will have to be left open. I see the biggest risks of being selected if left exposed are Ronald Torreyes and Jason Stoffel.
While Stoffel is a known commodity. He's almost 26 and not really a "prospect' per say. However, there is a chance he could provide value as a middle reliever. He can sit guys down. He has a good ground ball rate. The issue is that his walk rate can get a bit high. Not an uncommon profile for a middle reliever. Might be worth the risk.
Torreyes is a small guy with a good hit tool. He's not Jose Altuve but he might turn into a poor man's version of one. He walks less but strikes out less. He makes a lot of contact but has a little bit lower of a LD% and thus a few less doubles and a little lower of a batting average. He's also not as good on the base paths.
What he is though is more versatile defensively. He's likely a utility player but so is Marwin Gonzalez and those types of players are more valuable than they seem on paper.