MINNEAPOLIS -- With the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft looming on Friday at 10:59 p.m. CT, the Twins have some tough decisions to make on who to add to their 40-man roster, with seven spots currently open.
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons, or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. So this year, it's primarily international signings and high school players drafted in 2011, and college players drafted in '12. The Rule 5 Draft is set for Dec. 10 at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
Outfielder Adam Brett Walker and left-hander Taylor Rogers, who are both participating in the Arizona Fall League, are considered locks to be added to the Twins' 40-man roster. Walker, ranked as Minnesota's No. 10 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, hit .239 with 31 homers and 106 RBIs in 133 games with Double-A Chattanooga. Rogers, the club's No. 13 overall prospect, posted a 3.98 ERA in 174 innings with Triple-A Rochester.
Fellow lefty Pat Dean, who was part of Triple-A Rochester's rotation with Rogers is also considered likely to be added to the roster. Dean had a 2.82 ERA with five complete games in 27 starts with Rochester.
The Twins also have several hard-throwing relievers that need to be protected, including J.T. Chargois, Zack Jones, Corey Williams, Mason Melotakis and Luke Bard. But all five have dealt with significant injuries, so the Twins have to weigh how healthy they are and how close they are to reaching the Majors.
Of the group of relievers, Chargois is the most likely to be added, while Jones and Williams have a chance as well. Chargois, a righty who is ranked as the club's No. 11 prospect, missed 2013 and '14 due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, but he has a fastball that clocks in the high 90s and an impressive slider.
Other notable starting pitchers who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft include Jason Wheeler, Alex Wimmers, Felix Jorge and Randy Rosario. Wheeler was already on the 40-man roster, but the lefty was outrighted on Sept. 1 and isn't likely to be re-added. Wimmers has started to show promise after his well-publicized struggles after being a first-round Draft pick in 2010, but he still remains unlikely to be protected. Jorge and Rosario both have potential, but they are considered to be too far away from the Majors.
As for position players outside of Walker, infielder Levi Michael, who was the club's first-rounder in 2011, is the most likely to be added to the roster. Michael hasn't quite progressed the way the Twins were hoping, but he's still a solid middle infielder who hit .267/.369/.434 in 63 games with Double-A Chattanooga last season.
Outfielder Travis Harrison, a fellow first-round Draft pick by the Twins in 2011, is also under consideration to be protected. Harrison, ranked as the club's No. 19 prospect, batted .240/.363/.356 with five homers in 115 games at Double-A Chattanooga, but he has had trouble building on his breakout season in '13.