WTNYDecember 14, 2004
Rule 5 Review
By Bryan Smith

With the Winter Meetings a bit less fruitful than normal, it appeared the Rule 5 draft hype was high on Monday. Of course Baseball America had their preview piece and later their draft blog, and I?d also seen pieces all over the net. Still a very confusing procedure in which we need insiders to get comprehensive eligibility lists, it?s great to see the noble task of unearthing the research has begun.

But despite the build-up, the Rule 5 draft came and went with all of twelve players being selected in the Major League portion. Twelve. Jim Bowden and Dan O?Dowd, currently set on some kind of a crash courses, were responsible for one-fourth of the selections. And even after reading lists trying to be comprehensive, or others making available the ?top choices? (including mine), I had still never heard of the first and fourth selections, and was not aware of the availability of others.

Despite not expecting the names that were called, the positions were far from shocking. Five of the twelve players selected were southpaws, with three more being pitchers throwing from the right side. The draft didn?t garner any selections of the Jose Morban, Hector Luna variety, more explainable by lack of availability than anything else. Only one player that could even be thought of as an infielder was selected, with versatility in the outfield being the sexy offensive trait this year.

Before my breakdown of the players, let me give the customary reminder that few of these players will actually stick in the Majors. Johan Santana has at least given the draft a name, but for him there are about 50 Jason Szuminskis or Matt Whites. But just like prospect hunting, the fun is not in predicting failure, but of finding the needle in the haystack, the gem that will bring with your prediction an ounce of credibility.

Like always, with my comments will be my acknowledgment of the player?s statistics, with only a brief tangent on their ?stuff?. I like to think you guys come here to avoid regurgitation, and have some view outside of the ?beast?, so that?s what I?ll try and provide. But enough all ready, here are the 12 players selected in the 2004 Rule 5 Major League Draft (statistics from the last 3 seasons provided, for hitters, line is: AVE/OBP/SLG W-BB SB/ATT in AB, for pitchers: ERA H/IP K/BB HR in G):

1. Angel Garcia- Chosen By Diamondbacks from Twins; Traded to Devil Rays- RHP

2002 GCL= 3.40 41/53.0 63/31 0 in 13
2003 APP= 2.89 37/37.1 44/18 5 in 9
2004 GCL= 0.00 6/8.0 9/3 0 in 6
2004 MID= 6.30 10/10.0 8/5 2 in 5

News broke yesterday that the Diamondbacks would not select Andy Sisco, allowing the Kansas City Royals to do so with the second pick in the draft. But the mystery was who the D-Backs would select, especially given their newfound desire to scrap the rebuilding option and go straight to attempting to contend again. So there is little surprise that the cash-starved organization jumped at the opportunity to make even a few bucks choosing for someone else. Tampa, constantly rebuilding, was a solid match.

I don?t know much about Garcia, other than he has all of then innings of full-season ball under his belt. Despite avoiding giving up the long ball in the Gulf Coast League, his seven home runs in just 47.1 innings above that level are a bit concerning. The huge 6-6 Puerto Rican can apparently throw some gas, and is currently pitching in the Puerto Rican League, which I would guess is where his name comes from. Garcia?s numbers are rather unimpressive in seven games, but I?m sure this is more scouting than number-crunching anyway.

First overall Rule 5 picks stick most of the time, and on an organization like the Devil Rays, have no real reason not too. But Lou Piniella runs a tight ship, so Garcia is definitely a long way from making the squad. Bartolome Fortunato was probably not a huge fan of this acquisition, but Tampa now has their largest project since Jorge Sosa.

Chance of sticking: 60%, with Piniella the only thing standing in his way.

2. Andy Sisco- Chosen by Royals from Cubs- LHP

2002 NWL= 2.43 51/77.2 101/39 3 in 14
2003 MID= 3.54 76/94.0 99/31 3 in 19
2004 FSL= 4.21 118/126 134/65 11 in 26

Everyone knew this was coming, both from the pre-draft hype and the Sunday reports. This is a nice move by the Royals, who avoided the Rule 5 bullet when Colt Griffin did not hear his name called. I?m tellin? ya Doug Melvin, Mike Maddux could have done some things. But anyway, it will be the Royals trying to put together the pieces with a fallen prospect, as Andy Sisco is hardly the gem he was after either the 2002 or 2003 seasons.

By the same token, Sisco is what this Rule 5 draft is all about, a project. I have heard from insiders and outsiders alike that Sisco had the combination of added weight and fallen velocity last season, both things that will need improvement for him to succeed with a full season in the Major Leagues. While his H/9 has risen each of the last three seasons, he still was under 9.00, while his K/9 was still above it. Like Wil Ledezma before he was drafted by the Tigers, the issue is getting his control under wraps.

No one exactly knows how to handle a 6-9 pitcher, but the Royals could have worse things than him mopping up some games for the first two months of the season. Offering something to the Cubs for exclusive rights of Sisco, which would allow Baird to send him to the minors, is really advised here. I am going to avoid criticizing the Cubs here, hoping they really do know something we don?t.

Chance of sticking: 80%, talents like this don?t usually wind up on doorsteps.

3. Tyrell Godwin- Chosen by Nationals from Blue Jays- OF

2002 SAL= .281/.364/.378 20-23 10/12 in 185
2003 FSL= .273/.348/.332 29-39 20/27 in 322
2003 EAS= .309/.328/.431 3-27 6/7 in 123
2003 EAS= .253/.326/.355 52-110 42/54 in 521

This is where my confusion of the draft begins, as I just don?t understand the logic behind this choice. There was a time, no doubt, when Godwin was a highly thought of player coming out of the University of North Carolina. He has strengths still, with versatility in the outfield, speed and the ability to draw some walks being the notables. But still, explain to me why this was a better choice than Anthony Webster or Alex Romero?

My guess at Bowden?s thinking is that both Webster and Romero spent the entire 2004 seasons in high-A, as Godwin is about a season and a half removed from that league. But still, I think Webster was the choice here, because he is better at making contact, draws more walks, and offers a similar amount of speed. Time will tell here, but my guess is that Webster will later prove to have been the better choice here.

After examining the Nationals depth chart, it appears the club will have 12 spots guaranteed. The last one or two spots will be some kind of combination between Godwin, fellow Rule 5 pick Tony Blanco, recent acquisition J.J. Davis, AAA stud Ryan Church or Brandon Watson. Though I do find it a bit redundant to carry both Endy Chavez and Godwin, it appears like he will land one spot, with Blanco, Davis and Church fighting for the last one.

Chance of sticking: 33%

4. Marco Carvajal- Chosen by the Brewers from the Dodgers; traded to Rockies- RHP

2002 GCL= 1.71 30/42.0 35/15 0 in 13
2003 PIO= 3.08 32/38.0 50/22 1 in 23
2004 SAL= 1.88 50/72.0 72/35 2 in 36

This is really someone that should have been investigated, as Carvajal was one of the South Atlantic League?s best relievers last season. Still, Columbus is a long way from Coors, and Carvajal?s chance of Major League success isn?t fantastic. Three home runs in 152 professional innings is intriguing, as are both very solid peripheral numbers. Carvajal joined the Caracas Leones in the Venezuelan League, but has only appeared in one game since reporting.

The decision to move Shawn Chacon to the bullpen has opened a little room there, so Carvajal will have every chance of making the team. After striking gold for two straight seasons with Javier Lopez and then Luis Gonzalez, it was no surprise to see the Rockies become major players in this draft. Carvajal is another flamethrower, but who knows, in this bullpen he could be closing by August. Normal rules are thrown out the window atop the mountains.

Chance of sticking: 50%, Ryan Speier?s development could prevent Carvajal?s long-term stay

5. Matt Merricks- Chosen by the Rockies from the Dodgers- LHP

2002 SAL= 5.12 82/82.2 60/51 6 in 19
2003 SAL= 2.82 58/67.0 60/19 1 in 14
2003 CAR= 3.23 45/47.1 37/23 5 in 11
2004 CAR= 3.31 61/73.1 67/24 4 in 13
2004 FSL= 3.12 30/26.0 16/10 2 in 6
2004 SOU= 4.91 26/22.0 27/11 4 in 6

Many thought the Braves overpaid a bit for Tom Martin last season went they sent the promising Matt Merricks to Los Angeles. He has a lot of success in the minor leagues, with his 2002 season the only blemish on his statistical resume. We could quibble with too many home runs this year, an argument I think will be made when Clint Hurdle builds a 25-man roster this spring.

If he pitches well, Matt Merricks has a chance to make this team. I don?t think the thought of him not being a Major League-caliber starter is unfounded, so the move to the bullpen now could be a very good decision. But with all the good things to look at, Merricks inability to sustain solid when moving up levels will be the reason for his demise with the Rockies. Los Angeles should expect him back at the end of Spring Training, when he will probably pitch quite well in his second time around the Southern League.

Chance of sticking: 10%

6. Luke Hagerty- Chosen by the Orioles from the Cubs; Traded to Marlins- LHP

2002 NWL= 1.12 32/48.0 50/15 2 in 10
2004 AZL= 2.63 13/13.2 7/5 0 in 4
2004 NWL= 12.00 15/9 5/9 0 in 4

Cubs fans are also scratching their heads on Luke Hagerty?s absence from the 40-man roster, though I think his exclusion was a bit more calculated than that of Andy Sisco. I did not mistype anything on his rather underwhelming statistical history, it was just arm surgery that limited Hagerty to all of 22.2 innings since his dominating 2002 performance. It looked then as if he could have been the best Ball State player chosen that June, even better than the first overall selection Bryan Bullington.

Now, if all goes to plan, he will still beat Bullington to the Major Leagues. Like Sisco, Hagerty is a big southpaw, listed at 6-7, 230 pounds. His rehab is going well, though I?m not sure if he?ll be able to regain his mid-90s fastball and devastating slider of old. Many have speculated as to whether Hagerty could be thrown onto the 60-man roster for most of the year, with the occasional rehab stint to the minors. Hagerty is a bit farther along in the rehab process than Derek Thompson or D.J. Mattox (Rule 5 selections to not have to actually play), so I?m not sure whether the validity of Hagerty?s injury would allow a long-term DL stay.

I do not think, and call me the optimist, that Hagerty will stick on a team that is trying to contend like the Marlins. If so, then Jim Hendry will have a lot of explaining to do.

Chance of sticking: 20%

7. Shane Victorino- Chosen by Phillies from Dodgers- OF

2002 SOU= .258/.328/.318 47-49 45/61 in 481
2003 SOU= .282/.340/.368 21-41 16/23 in 266
2004 SOU= .328/.375/.584 20-64 9/16 in 293
2004 PCL= .235/.278/.335 11-37 7/9 in 200

This is the second time that Victorino has been chosen, with a bad stint in San Diego left out of his 2003 stats. Again, another slap-hitting outfielder with lots of speed, but I still don?t understand what he brings to the table that Anthony Webster does not. The performance in the Southern League is enticing, but it was his third trial in the league, so it was either then or never. His last 200 at-bats were more indicative of the type of player he is, and if the Phillies can possibly waste a roster spot on him for the whole season, then sabermetrics is not moving fast enough.

Chance of sticking: 5%

8. Tyler Johnson- Chosen by A?s from Cardinals- LHP

2002 MID= 2.00 96/121.1 132/42 7 in 22
2003 FSL= 3.08 79/79.0 81/38 2 in 22
2003 SOU= 1.65 16/27.1 39/15 1 in 20
2004 SOU= 4.79 48/56.1 77/37 4 in 53

While I normally would shy away from players that regress like Johnson did in 2004, lifetime 10.7 K/9s don?t come around everyday. I don?t find it shocking that one of the players I deemed as the greatest success was chosen by the A?s, who are definitely on top of this sort of a cheap bargain. But they passed last year on Frank Brooks, and it is entirely likely they could do it again. If, as I expect, Chad Bradford is non-tendered in a few days, Johnson has a chance of making this team. That will depend on whether Ken Macha will carry seven pitchers, and choose Johnson over Tim Harikkala and Justin Lehr. It?s possible, though not entirely likely.

Chance of sticking: 35%

9. Ryan Rowland-Smith- Chosen by Twins from Mariners- LHP

2002 NWL= 2.77 58/61.2 58/22 2 in 18
2002 MID= 6.75 50/41.1 38/19 7 in 12
2003 MID= 1.11 22/32.1 37/14 0 in 13
2003 CAL= 3.20 12/19.2 15/8 0 in 15
2004 CAL= 3.79 107/99.2 119/30 10 in 29

I cannot say I completely understand this choice, though Rowland-Smith will hold a place in my heart (with Bryn Smith) for having a name vaguely familiar to mine. In seriousness, while there were many LOOGYs available, Rowland-Smith was one of the very few Ron Villone-types that were on the market. The problem here is that Rowland-Smith is not that good, and apparently his Australian ties helped get him chosen. I don?t want to say there is no chance the Twins will carry him, but really only a long-term injury to Grant Balfour would stop them in my opinion.

Chance of sticking: 7%

10. D.J. Houlton- Chosen by Dodgers from Astros- RHP

2002 MID= 3.14 120/140.2 138/30 12 in 35
2003 TEX= 3.47 93/109.0 101/28 11 in 18
2003 PCL= 5.40 70/61.2 48/19 12 in 11
2004 TEX= 2.94 141/159.0 159/47 14 in 28

It normally seems as if the Rule 5 draft pitcher is either left-handed, or a right-handed pitcher that can light up radar guns. Houlton is neither, the exception to the rule, the DePodesta choice. A bit old, Houlton was tugged a bit too hard in 2003, and came back to his normal self this season. Whether he has the stuff, or is in the right organization, to make is unknown. But I like gambling on him a lot more than giving Brian Falkenborg a bunch of appearances, which is what the Dodgers were left to do last season. I asked Jon Weisman about who might fill the Dodgers bullpen next year?

Gagne and Brazoban are locks for the bullpen, with Sanchez, a waiver pickup just before Dan Evans was fired, almost as certain after a solid Dodger debut. Carrara, who pitched exceptionally after being picked up on waivers from Seattle, would appear to be a lock - except he was an apparent lock in 2003 but didn't make the team. One slot will probably go to a lefty - Scott Stewart if they can do no better, but it's hard to believe they can't. Another slot would go to a swingman - and who this is depends on how the rotation fills out. In a happy world, the recently signed Elmer Dessens will be a long reliever and not a starter. Wilson Alvarez is also a possibility here. And even Edwin Jackson could get more interning out of the pen, if the Dodgers can fill their rotation without him. So the answer is, at least on December 14, Houlton has a shot at making the team. The pen isn't full yet, and the Dodgers have been willing to take a chance on relievers with unusual pedigrees. But again, it depends on the rotation. They need to plan to have at least 12 pitchers - six starters - because of the uncertainty over Penny's health, at least through the end of March if not into the beginning of the season. We won't need to wait until March to have a better idea of Houlton's chances, but we may need to wait until January.

Well said. Chance of sticking: 20%

11. Adam Stern- Chosen by Red Sox from Braves- OF

2002 CAR= .253/.298/.364 27-89 40/48 in 462
2003 CAR= .194/.282/.214 13-21 7/10 in 103
2004 SOU= .322/.378/.480 35-58 27/37 in 394

This one will not stick, nearly guaranteed. Stern appears to be a solid player, probably the equivalent to Nick Gorneault, and his only hope is the Red Sox don?t bother to find a replacement to Gabe Kapler. This will almost certainly not happen, but at least Theo showed that he can find a solid player that no one else saw. His previous career stats make me think of 2004 as a bit of a fluke though, but again, worth the cost to find out if there?s more than meets the eye.

Chance of sticking: 5%

12. Tony Blanco- Chosen by Nationals from Reds- Corner

2002 FSL= .221/.250/.365 6-70 2/2 in 244
2003 CAR= .266/.338/.477 26-62 0/0 in 241
2004 CAR= .306/.403/.588 27-66 2/2 in 216
2004 SOU= .245/.300/.455 15-53 0/0 in 220

Jim Bowden actually didn?t do so bad here, and he knows Tony Blanco from their days together in Cincinnati. Basically, Blanco is this season?s Jose Bautista, a real raw player with a few good attributes to offer. I think he?s actually better, though a bit less athletic than Bautsita or Tony Batista, the latter who he compares to offensively. Blanco will be able to play all the corners for Washington, though I think the simultaneous signing of Wil Cordero hurts his chances of making the team. Bring him to camp, let him wow a few spectators with big bombs, offer the Reds some mediocre minor leaguer for him, and send him back to Cincy.

Chance of sticking: 25%

In review, the five guys with the best chance to stick, in order: Sisco, Garcia, Carvajal, Johnson and Godwin. Of course, that hardly reflects how good the choices were. We'll have to wait and see on that front. That?s all today guys, drop the Rule 5 questions and comments below, as always.


Great review. On thing though, Fortunato is unfortunately with the Mets now. He was part of a minor trade involving some kid Kazmir back in July.

Don't know how dumb of a question this is but: Which teams get a rule five pick? I first thought worst but then the Dodgers got the 10th pick

Thanks, OFF. My bad.

Jims, the order of the Rule 5 draft is taken by the worst records, simply going backwards from worst to first. But teams have the right to forfeit, to pass on their selection. This season, Seattle had the third choice in the draft, but after passing, allowed Washington to select Ty Godwin. We could call him the fourth overall selection, and Tony Blanco the 34th, but why?

Bryan, excellent summary. Thanks for pulling this together!

"Many have speculated as to whether Hagerty could be thrown onto the 60-man roster for most of the year, with the occasional rehab stint to the minors. Hagerty is a bit farther along in the rehab process than Derek Thompson or D.J. Mattox (Rule 5 selections to not have to actually play), so Im not sure whether the validity of Hagertys injury would allow a long-term DL stay."

60-man rosters, now that's what I call expanded rosters!

The rule is that a Rule 5 draftee has to spend either the entire season or 90 days (with the rest spent on the 60-day DL) on the 25-man roster, whichever is longer, before the drafting teams owns unrestricted rights to the player. DJ Mattox will therefore have to spend the first 90 days of 2005 on the active roster before he's free of the Rule 5 restrictions.