Naquin among 5 protected from Rule 5 Draft

Naquin among 5 protected from Rule 5 Draft

Including heralded prospect Tyler Naquin, the Indians added five young players to their 40-man roster on Friday. The moves protected them from exposure to next month's Rule 5 Draft.

Cleveland selected the contracts of right-handed pitcher Mike Clevinger and outfielders James Ramsey and Naquin from Triple-A Columbus; left-handed pitcher Shawn Morimando from Double-A Akron and right-handed pitcher Dylan Baker from Class A Advanced Lynchburg.

To clear a spot on the roster, the contract of right-handed pitcher C.C. Lee was sold to the Seibu Lions in Japan.

The Rule 5 Draft allows teams to pluck unprotected players from other organizations. Eligible players include those who signed before turning 19 years old and have been in an organization for five years, or older signees who have been in an organization for four years.

Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.

This year's Rule 5 Draft is scheduled for Dec. 10 in Nashville, Tenn., at the conclusion of the annual Winter Meetings. Among the Top 30 prospects in the Indians' system, left-handed pitcher Luis Lugo (No. 18), outfielder Luigi Rodriguez (No. 22) and second baseman Claudio Bautista (No. 24) could be selected in the Draft.

Also exposed are right-handed pitchers Jeff Johnson (1.05 ERA, 56 strikeouts, 27 saves in 51 1/3 innings at Double-A); Josh Martin (2.27 ERA, 80 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings at Double-A); Enosil Tejeda (1.25 ERA in 43 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A) and infielder Ronny Rodriguez (.806 OPS at Double-A).

Although he dealt with some injuries, the 24-year-old Naquin batted .300/.381/.446 with seven home runs, 25 doubles and 27 RBIs over 84 games combined with Akron and Columbus in 2015. MLB.com rated him the Indians' No. 5 prospect.

Clevinger, 24, was 9-8 with a 2.73 ERA and 145 strikeouts over 158 innings in 27 games (26 starts) for Akron. The No. 15 prospect in the organization, Clevinger was promoted to Columbus for the postseason, winning both starts while tossing 15 1/3 scoreless innings (five hits, 17 strikeouts).

Ramsey, 25, batted 243 with a .709 OPS, 12 homers, 21 doubles and 42 RBIs in 126 games for Columbus. He is listed as Cleveland's No. 12 prospect. A 2012 first-round Draft pick by the Cardinals, Ramsey was acquired from St. Louis in the 2014 trade for pitcher Justin Masterson.

Morimando, the No. 16 prospect who turned 23 years old on Friday, was 10-12 with a 3.18 ERA in 28 starts for Akron. Over 158 2/3 innings, he allowed 139 hits with 128 strikeouts. He was tied for first in starts among Eastern League pitchers.

Baker, 23, opened 2015 with five hitless innings on April 9 for Lynchburg before right elbow soreness forced him to be shut down. He had season-ending elbow surgery on May 20. The Indians' fifth-round pick in 2012, Baker has a 3.64 career ERA in the Minors but has been limited to 13 starts the past two seasons because of the elbow injury and a broken leg suffered in 2014.

In 47 big league relief appearances over parts of three seasons, Lee had a 4.50 ERA. Save for two games with the Indians, he spent most of 2015 at Columbus.

The Indians' Major League roster now stands full at 40 players.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.