The Royals added three players to their 40-man roster on Monday, protecting them from next month’s Rule 5 draft.
They selected left-handed pitchers Tim Hill and Eric Stout as well as catcher Meibrys Viloria, the 17th-ranked prospect in the organization according to MLB.com.
The Royals’ roster now stands at 38, which could allow the team to make a selection in the Rule 5 draft or claim an available player off waivers.
First baseman Ryan O’Hearn and outfielder Marten Gasparini, both among the top 30 prospects in the organization, were left unprotected by the club. Frank Schwindel, who was chosen Class AAA player of the year, was also left exposed to the draft, which will take place Dec. 14, the last day of baseball’s winter meetings.
Players are eligible to be drafted in the Rule 5 draft if they are not on a team’s 40-man roster and have spent four or five years in an organization, depending on their age when they were signed.
Viloria, 20, signed in 2013 as a shortstop and has since made the transition to catching. He earned rookie-level Pioneer League MVP honors in 2016 and broke 2017 spring training with the Class A Lexington Legends. Since signing as a 16-year-old, he’s become a well-regarded prospect in the organization.
He hit .259 with 25 doubles, eight homers and 52 RBIs in 101 games this season.
Hill, a 27-year-old who throws sidearm, was the Royals’ 32nd-round pick in 2014. Over 69 innings at Class AA Northwest Arkansas, he went 1-2 with a 4.17 ERA and 75 strikeouts this year.
Stout, a 13th-rounder in the same draft, has progressed more steadily. After receiving an invitation to big-league spring training this year, he spent the season at Class AAA Omaha. Stout was 5-2 with a 2.99 ERA in 69 1/3 innings spanning 45 appearances. He saved five games and made one start.