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Rule 5 Draft Recap


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Dayn Perry / Special to FOXSports.com

Posted: 2 hours ago

 

As frenzied as the pace of the recent Winter Meetings was, it's easy to overlook this year's Rule 5 draft.

 

For the uninitiated, the Rule 5 draft has three phases — the major-league phase, the Triple-A phase and the Double-A phase. For purposes of this piece, we'll keep the focus on the major league portion of the draft.

 

Here's how it works: a player is eligible to be a Rule-5 selection if he's been in the minors for three or four seasons (depending on his age at the time he was signed) without being added to the 40-man roster. Any team making a selection in the draft must have an opening on the major league roster and must pay the player's former team $50,000.

 

 

 

In order to retain rights to a player selected under Rule 5, the team must keep the player on its active 25-man roster for the entirety of the season. The only exceptions are in the case of injury or if they receive permission from the player's former organization to dispatch the draftee back to the minors (this is accomplished by trading cash or players to the player's old team).

 

If they're not able to keep the draftee on the active roster for the entire year, he's offered back to his old team along with a $25,000 payment. Overall, only about one in four Rule-5 draftees stick with their new team. Also, since 25-man roster space is quite precious, not every team chooses to make a Rule-5 selection.

 

Anyhow, here's how this year's Rule 5 draft played out ...

 

1st pick — Royals — Fabio Castro, LHP, Age: 20 (from White Sox)

 

Not long after the Royals selected Castro, they dealt him to the Rangers in exchange for infielder Esteban German.

 

In Castro, the pitching-starved Rangers get a capable lefty who sports a good fastball, promising change and plus curve. Still, he hasn't pitched above High-A, and he's shown spotty control. Ameriquest Field, the best hitter's park in the AL, certainly isn't the place for a pitcher to cut his teeth in such a fashion. He's not likely to stick with Texas, but Castro does have a future as a reliever at the highest level. It just won't be with the Rangers.

 

2nd pick — Rockies — Luis Gonzalez, LHP, Age: 22 (from Dodgers)

 

Good velocity for a lefty, but his supporting pitches are nothing special. Gonzalez this past season semi-thrived at AA-Jacksonville but was lit up in a brief trial at hitter-friendly Las Vegas. He's had awful control numbers throughout his career, and despite the low home run numbers he doesn't have particularly impressive groundball-fly ball ratios. There's almost no chance an erratic Rule-5 lefty will survive in Coors Field. Unless he harnesses his stuff, Gonzalez doesn't have much of a future.

 

3rd pick — Devil Rays — Steven Andrade, RHP, Age: 27 (from Blue Jays)

 

Traded to the Padres to complete the Dewon Brazelton-Sean Burroughs swap.

 

Andrade will be 28 before opening day, but throughout his career he has shown exceptional command and has done an excellent job of keeping the ball in the park. His slider is tremendous and should serve him well in a major league bullpen. The Padres have a lot of competition for bullpen spots, but Andrade has an excellent shot at sticking.

 

4th pick — Pirates — Victor Santos, RHP, Age: 29 (from Royals)

 

Santos, who's pitched in the majors for most of the last two seasons, was signed to a minor league contract by the Royals, but because he wasn't on the 40-man Santos found himself in Rule 5 pool. Last season, his peripheral statistics were awful, but he managed a tolerable 4.57 ERA. He could be a passable swing man on the Pirates' staff, but his upside, at age 29, is very limited.

 

5th pick — Tigers — Chris Booker, RHP, Age: 29 (traded to Phillies)

 

The Phillies acquired Booker in exchange for cash in a deal with Detroit. The right-hander showed erratic control last season in the International League, but he did strike out 91 batters in 65 innings. Although he gave up only two homers last season at Louisville, Booker's a fairly pronounced fly-ball pitcher. Provided his control doesn't degrade further, he should be a solid relief option for the Philly next season.

 

6th pick — Padres — Seth Etherton, RHP, Age: 29 (from Royals)

 

Etherton, like Booker, is a fly-ball pitcher who'll be pitching half his games in a park quite friendly toward fly-ball pitchers. The problem will be sticking in a crowded Padre bullpen with fellow Rule-5er Steven Andrade ahead of him in the queue. One of the two probably won't break camp with the big league club. Etherton's had back-to-back strong seasons at the Triple-A level, but thus far he's been unable to transition to the highest level.

 

7th pick — Mets — Mitch Wylie, RHP, Age: 28 (from Giants)

 

Mylie showed good command last season in the hitter-friendly PCL, and he does a good job of working down in the zone. On the downside, his career numbers are less than impressive, and the Mets aren't likely to carry a Rule-5 reliever all season.

 

8th pick — Marlins — Dan Uggla, 2B, Age: 25 (from Diamondbacks)

 

This could be the steal of the draft. Uggla in the lower rungs showed some pop, but nothing impressive considering the hitter-friendly nature of the Arizona system. Last season, however, Uggla hit .297 AVG/.378 OBP/.502 SLG in the Southern League, which is a far less accommodating circuit for hitters. Defensively, he's adequate at best, but his bat should be above-average by second-base standards. The keystone job is wide open in Florida, and Uggla could come out of spring training as the starter.

 

9th pick — Twins — Jason Pridie, OF, Age: 22 (from Devil Rays)

 

Pridie runs the bases well and can pick it at all three outfield positions, but he's not much of a hitter. He hasn't produced at the plate above the Sally League, so his role in Minnesota will likely be last bat off the bench/pinch runner/late-inning fly-chaser. Pridie won't be much of an impact player, now or in the future.

 

10th pick — Red Sox — Jamie Vermilyea, RHP, Age: 23 (from Blue Jays)

 

Vermilyea put up some eye-popping numbers in the lower rungs of the Blue Jay system, but he struggled badly last season in limited action at AAA-Syracuse. Still, Vermilyea gets groundballs, and he's shown good command at most levels. It may be tough for him to stick on the Boston roster, but he'll have a future as a reliever in the majors.

 

11th pick — Cardinals — Juan Mateo, RHP, Age: 22 (from Cubs)

 

This one could be a find. Last season in the Florida State League, Mateo fanned 123 batters in 109.1 innings, walked only 27 and posted a 3.21 ERA. The FSL is a pitcher's league, but those are still impressive numbers. Scouts aren't wild about Mateo's stuff, but the results have been there thus far. The Cards like his potential, so they'll attempt to find a low-leverage spot for him at the back of the bullpen.

 

12th pick — Marlins — Mike Megrew, LHP, Age: 21 (from Dodgers)

 

Megrew put up strong numbers in the lower levels of the Dodgers' system, but he missed almost all of the 2005 season after undergoing major elbow surgery. He lacks quality off-speed stuff, and it's unlikely that in his injury bounce-back year Megrew will be able to tread water on a major league roster.

 

# Best pick, near-term: Uggla, Marlins

 

# Best pick, long-term: Mateo, Cardinals

 

# Worst pick: Wylie, Mets

 

Dayn Perry is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com and author of the forthcoming book, "Winners: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones" (Available soon at Amazon.com).

 

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/5167462

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