The Dodgers protected two minor-leaguers from being subject to the Rule 5 draft.
For a player to be eligible for this draft, they would have had to (a) signed when they were 18 or younger and in their fifth Rule 5 draft or (b) signed when they were 19 or older and in their fourth Rule 5.
True Blue LA simplified that as “high school players drafted in 2011 and college players drafted in 2012 need to be added to the 40-man roster to keep from losing them in the Rule 5 draft.”
Feb 20, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling poses for a portrait during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Dodgers drafted Cotton in the 20th round of the 2012 Amateur Draft out of East Carolina University. He began the 2015 season as the number 27 prospect in the Dodgers’ system, but moved up to 15 after a strong season that started in Single-A Great Lakes and ended in AAA- Tulsa. Through four different leagues, Cotton had a 2.45 ERA in 21 appearances (11 starts) and struck out 114 batters in 95 2/3 innings. MLB.com projects him as a reliever in the future because he’s very fastball-dependent, but he showed progress last year and could probably evolve into a middle relief guy or be a trade chip.
Stripling was a fifth round pick out of Texas A&M in the 2012 draft. He was their 19th best prospect heading into last year and fell three spots. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014 and came back in June 2015, where he split time between Great Lakes and Tulsa. In 14 starts, Stripling posted a 3.66 ERA after the surgery, but his ERA was under 3.00 in his 41 previous minor league outings (34 starts).
MLB has Cotton and Stripling as the seventh and 12th best pitching prospects on the Dodgers, so it’s still far from a guarantee that they will have an impact on this team. The Dodgers have one of the best farm systems in baseball and at some point, should probably try to turn some good prospects into good major leaguers via trade. For all I know, that could happen before I finish typing this post and Jose Fernandez or Shelby Miller could be on the Dodgers.
These moves put the Dodgers’ 40-man roster at 39, so they’re going to have to get creative if/when they start making splashes in free agency and in the trade market.