Here’s a rundown of minor leaguers the Nationals might choose to add to their 40-man roster by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, the deadline for teams to set their rosters in anticipation of the Dec. 6 Rule 5 draft.
It is not a complete list of players that would have to be protected, just a list of the players who seem to have the best chance of getting plucked if left unprotected:
SP Nathan Karns, 24: Karns reached Class A Potomac only this season, but his year may make him attractive to other clubs. He was named the Nationals’ minor league pitcher of the year after posting a 2.17 ERA over 116 innings while coming back from shoulder surgery. He’s a talented pitcher – the Nationals signed him for well over slot when they drafted him in the 12th round in 2009. His lack of experience and injury history would make it tough for a major league team to carry him for a full season, but a rebuilding club could take the chance.
OF Destin Hood, 22: The Nationals chose him in the second round in 2008 and lured him away from a scholarship to play wide receiver at Alabama with a hefty signing bonus. He still has potential as a power hitter and corner outfielder, but he remains raw. He is a talent worth holding on to, but after Hood slugged just .344 in 389 plate appearances at Class AA Harrisburg, the Nationals may not need to worry about another team carrying him in the majors for a full season.
IF Jeff Kobernus, 24: One of the fastest players in the Nationals’ minor league system, Kobernus has stolen 95 bases while getting caught 19 times over the past two seasons. He played all of 2012 at Class AA Harrisburg and hit .282/.325/.333 with one homer.
RP Rob Wort, 23: Wort was picked in the 30th round in 2009, and he has never pitched above Class A Potomac. But he is the kind of player who often gets taken in the Rule 5 draft, a reliever with a big arm that a non-contending team can stash in the bullpen without too much trouble. In 2012 at Potomac, Wort struck out 95 hitters in 56 2/3 innings, an absurd 15.1 per nine innings.
SP Danny Rosenbaum, 25: Rosenbaum spent the entire season at Harrisburg and, after a strong start, finished with a 3.94 ERA. The sinkerballing left-hander has been consistently steady since the Nationals drafted him in the 22nd round in 2009. His ability to limit walks and homers could entice another club, but he’s another case where it seems tough to see him sticking in the majors for a full season.
SP Jeff Mandel, 27: The Nationals have left Mandel unprotected for two seasons, but he may have changed their opinion with a solid season between Harrisburg and Syracuse. At Class AAA, he walked only 16 batters in 83 2/3 innings. His pitches include a sinker that produces gobs of grounders. He is of course nowhere near as accomplished as Lannan, but he could be a far cheaper, right-handed alternative as rotation depth in the minors.
RP Erik Davis, 26: The Nationals acquired Davis before the 2011 season from the Padres in exchange for utility infielder Alberto Gonzalez. Between Harrisburg and Syracuse, Davis pitched exclusively as a reliever for the first time and had the best year of his career. He went 8-3 with a 2.71 ERA over 73 innings in 48 games. He struck out 74 and walked 20.
IF/OF Justin Bloxom, 24: Bloxom hit 21 homers between Potomac and Harrisburg this season. At this point, he probably doesn’t have the power or experience as a corner player for a team to justify carrying him for an entire season.
SP Paul Demny, 23: Demny began to gain notice with a strong finish at Potomac in 2011. But in 2012, he posted a 5.46 ERA in a full season at Harrisburg. The Nationals sent Demny to the Arizona Fall League after the season. His fastball seemed to have lost a few ticks.
SP Brad Meyers, 27: Meyers had a difficult year, rehabbing from an injury. The Yankees took him last year, but after a year without pitching much, the Nationals probably do not need to bother adding him to the roster.
IF Josh Johnson, 26: A versatile and speedy utility man, Johnson has a .374 career on-base percentage in nine minor league seasons. The Nationals did not protect him last season, and so they seem unlikely to do so this year.
OF Erik Komatsu, 25: The Cardinals took Komatsu last season in the Rule 5 draft, but he was eventually returned to the Nationals. Komatsu was named the Brewers’ minor league player of the year in 2010. The Nationals acquired him in the 2011 deadline trade that sent Jerry Hairston to Milwaukee.