There may be a lockout that is preventing the MLB version of the Rule 5 draft from taking place right now, but that doesn’t apply to the minor league version of it since minor league players are not on the 40-man roster and aren’t locked out. And the Cincinnati Reds used their 1st round pick to add a now former big league outfielder to their farm system by selecting Ronnie Dawson from the Houston Astros.
If you are from Ohio and follow amateur baseball at all you probably recognize the name. Ronnie Dawson grew up in Ohio, went to Licking Heights High School in Pataskala and then moved on to Ohio State where he played from 2014-2016 and after a big junior season in 2016 was a 2nd round pick.
Ronnie Dawson spent a week in April at the big league level with the Houston Astros. He was called up from the alternate site on April 14th and got the start, going 1-3 with a walk and two runs scored. He would get into two more games that week, going 0-1 as a pinch hitter in both games. Dawson was optioned back on the 20th of April and he would spend the remainder of the season in Triple-A with the Sugar Land Skeeters where he would hit .249/.341/.374 with 21 doubles, a triple, 7 home runs, 15 steals, 46 walks, and 84 strikeouts in 94 games.
Defensively he’s played all three spots in the outfield and he can handle centerfield. He doesn’t have plus speed like most centerfielders do, but he runs efficient routes and gets a good jump on the ball that makes up for it.
Dawson will turn 27 near the end of May, so if he’s going to get back to the big leagues he will likely need to do so quickly. There’s some power in his bat, though it didn’t show up as much in 2021 as it has in the past at the minor league level. While his power was down last season, so were the strikeouts – which had been a bit of an issue for him during his career. His walk rate was also the best of his career since his professional debut in 2016 when he was in rookie-ball.
A left-handed hitter, he struggled against lefties in 2021 in Triple-A. He hit just .216/.324/.307 against lefties. He found more success against right-handed pitching, posting a .260/.347/.396 line. That split has held up for his career in the minors as he’s always been better against righties than lefties.
Unlike the MLB version of the rule 5 draft, Ronnie Dawson does not have to stick to the big league roster. Cincinnati can place him at any level that they would like to without any concerns for losing him to another organization. With that said, he seems like the type of player who will slide into the Double-A or Triple-A club depending on how spring training goes for himself and others and what the depth chart looks like.
The Cincinnati Reds also lost one player in the minor league Rule 5 draft on Wednesday afternoon. Relief pitcher Carson Fulmer was selected in the 2nd round of the draft by the Dodgers. Fulmer made the Reds roster out of spring training after being picked up on waivers. He was lights out in his first three weeks, allowing just one run in 10.0 innings with two walks and nine strikeouts. But then things fell apart over the next month as he allowed 18 earned runs in 15.2 innings while walking 11 batters and was sent to Triple-A where he remained for the rest of the season.