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Previewing the Rule 5 Draft

Tom Eshelman (Photo by Cheryl Pursell)
Tom Eshelman pitches against the Toledo Mud Hens on June 2, 2018 at Coca-Cola Park. (Photo by Cheryl Pursell)

The annual Winter Meetings wrap up as they usually do with the Rule 5 Draft. While it’s rare to find a superstar player who comes out of the Rule 5 Draft, it does happen. For the Phillies, they found outfielders Shane Victorino and Odubel Herrera in the Rule 5 Draft and lost outfielder George Bell to the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rule 5 Draft.

Teams make their selections in reverse order of finish and can select any player who was left “unprotected” by their current team.

  • To be eligible for selection, a player who was 18 or younger when they signed with their current team is ineligible to be selected for the first five Rule 5 Drafts after he signs. Players who were 19 or older are ineligible for the first four Rule 5 Drafts after they have signed their first professional contract. Those players who are eligible may be “protected” by being placed on their team’s 40-man roster by November 20th. Players who meet the qualifications and are not placed on the 40-man roster are eligible to be selected by any team having room on their 40-man roster.
  • Only teams who do not have a full 40-man roster may participate and may draft as many players as they have room for on their 40-man roster.
  • Once a player is selected – which costs the selecting team $100-thousand – they must remain on that team’s 25-man roster for a full season or be put through waivers and then offered back to their original team before they may be optioned to the minors. Any team claiming him on waivers is bound by the same restriction. If the player’s original team does take him back, they return half of the money paid to them by the drafting team. To constitute a full season on the 25-man roster, a player may not be on the DL for more than 60 days during the season or he must be kept on the roster the following season until he reaches a full year of service time in the majors.
  • Teams may – and often do – trade the player that they selected to any other team, however, that team is bound by the roster restrictions placed on that player.

This year’s draft is being held at noon on December 13th at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.


Here are some of the top players who were left unprotected and the team that left them unprotected.

RHP Riley Ferrell, Houston Astros

Ferrell lost considerable time on the mound in 2016 when he was sidelined after surgery to remove an aneurysm in his throwing shoulder. He returned strong, but in 2018, he pitched to just a 4.53 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A, making 43 appearances at the two stops. He did post an impressive 11.7 strikeouts-per-nine innings rate, but his walk rate escalated to 5.9 walks per nine and his WHIP was a difficult 1.59. He has a terrific fastball and slider, but needs to regain form. When he’s on, he has definite closer potential.

LHP Tyler Jay, Minnesota Twins

Jay was a first round pick – sixth overall – in the 2015 Draft, meaning he was selected ahead of players like Andrew Benintendi, Ian Happ and Walker Buehler. The Twins moved him from being a college closer to being a starter since he had an impressive array of four pitches. Injuries slowed his development and he was ineffective enough that he went back to pitching as a reliever this past season. It’s likely that a team will get a hold of him and reduce his repertoire to the bare bones necessities and keep him in the bullpen long-term.

SS Richie Martin, Oakland A’s

Martin has moved slowly through the A’s system but 2018 seemed to be the year that he put it all together, of course, he did repeat Double-A. In his first stint at Double-A in 2017, he hit just .224/.306/.315 but upped that to .300/.368/.439 this past season and collected 43 extra-base hits in 509 trips to the plate. He doesn’t have any power worth mentioning, but he is learning how to get on base and he’s got good enough speed to steal a bunch of bases. He can play both middle infield positions well and with his speed, he may be a guy teams could stash on their 25-man roster.

1B Josh Ockimey, Boston Red Sox

The only real issue with Ockimey is that he’s limited to a role as a first baseman or designated hitter because his defense just doesn’t work at any other spots. What Ockimey does offer is a lot of power. He homered 20 times in 117 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018, but like most power hitters, he also struck out a lot. Ockimey struck out 149 times, but he did show some discipline in posting a 14.7 percent walk rate which helped to boost his OBP to a healthy .356 and his OPS to .811 on the season. For a team needing some left-handed power off the bench and a guy to spell their first baseman against some righties, Ockimey could be a healthy choice.

Here are some other notable players available to be taken in this year’s Rule 5 Draft:

Right-handed pitchers: Jairo Beras (Texas), Chris Ellis (St. Louis), Junior Fernandez (St. Louis), Reed Garrett (Texas), Jackson McClelland (Toronto), Jon Olczak (Milwaukee) and Zach Thompson (Chicago White Sox).

Left-handed pitchers: Travis Bergen (Toronto), Foster Griffin (Kansas City), Taylor Guilbeau (Washington), Rob Kaminsky (Cleveland) and Chris Lee (Baltimore)

Catchers: Dom Nunez (Colorado), Ali Sanchez (New York Mets)

First Basemen: Lewin Diaz (Minnesota), Jake Gatewood (Milwaukee)

Second Basemen: Max Schrock (St. Louis), Kean Wong (Tampa Bay)

Third Basemen: Drew Dosch (Baltimore), Jantzen Witte (Boston)

Shortstops: Ray-Patrick Didder (Atlanta), Luis Aviles Jr. (Milwaukee)

Outfielders: Michael Gettys (San Diego), Hunter Jones (Washington)

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