Russian Roulette: The Rule 5 Draft
With the implementation of new rules allowing teams an extra year of development for their prospects, December's Rule 5 draft was expected to be quiet, to say the least. However, 19 players were chosen - the third most in nine years. Under the previous rules, prospects had to be added to their clubs' major league 40-man roster after either three (if 19 or older when signed) or four years (if under the age of 19 when signed) in the minor leagues or they would be subjected to the winter draft. The new rules added another year of leeway for clubs to decide if players were 'worthy' of those coveted spots. As a result, many players that were expected to be available in the Rule 5 draft this past winter were not. Players chosen in the draft must remain on the 25-man major league roster for the entire season or be offered back to their original club for $25,000.
Below is a chart outlining the previous eight Rule 5 drafts, not including the 2006 draft. After that, you will find a more detailed analysis of those drafts in the hopes we can better understand what to expect from the recent 2006 Rule 5 draft class as we approach the 2007 season.
The History (1998-2005): 2005: 12 picks, 3 stuck (25%), Best pick: Dan Uggla 2004: 12 picks, 5 stuck (42%), Best pick: Andy Sisco 2003: 20 picks, 6 stuck (30%), Best pick: Chris Shelton 2002: 28 picks, 11 stuck (39%), Best pick: Luis Ayala 2001: 12 picks, 6 stuck (50%), Best pick: Jorge Sosa 2000: 10 picks, 3 stuck (30%), Best pick: Jay Gibbons 1999: 17 picks, 5 stuck (29%), Best pick: Johan Santana 1998: 13 picks, 4 stuck (21%), Best pick: Scott Sauerbeck Overall: 35% of picks last the year
Most Common Positions Picked: C 2 2.0% 1B 1 0.8% 2B 7 6.0% 3B 7 6.0% SS 5 4.0% OF 23 18.5% RHP 52 41.9% LHP 27 21.8%Not surprisingly, pitching is the position of interest. Almost 64 per cent of all Rule 5 picks in the last eight years were pitchers. Right-handers made up almost half of all those picked. Catchers and first basemen are not very popular.
Most Successful Positions to Stick: C 1/2 50% 1B 1/1 100% 2B 4/7 57% 3B 4/7 57% SS 3/5 60% OF 5/23 22% RHP 15/52 29% LHP 10/27 37%Position players are not chosen as often as pitchers, but teams have a much better success rate with them, albeit on a much smaller scale. A 37% success rate for left-handers is not bad at all.
Likelihood Players Will Stick (By Level Pick From): MLB 1/4 25% AAA 7/33 21% AA 15/45 33% A+ 12/25 48% A 8/16 50% R 0/1 0%A-Ball, surprisingly, is the best place to find value for your dollar, with Double-A the next best options. I'm a little surprised Triple-A players don't stick more often, but I guess they would be protected by that point if they were perceived to be any good.
How Originally Acquired: College: 13 (30%) High School: 9 (21%) International: 16 (37%) Junior College: 5 (11%)I thought there might be some more division here, with high schoolers being drafted more often in the Rule 5, simply because they take longer to develop.
Chance for a Successful Next Season: Good: 9 (21%) OK: 17 (39%) Poor: 17 (39%)As seen by the numbers above, Rule 5 picks rarely go on to have successful careers. Even those who succeed in their first MLB season tend to flame out the next year. In most cases, players are returned to the minors for extra seasoning and never return. Admittedly, the Good/OK/Poor ratings are somewhat subjective on my part. Overall, the Rule 5 draft looks like a reasonable way to fill a hole on your bench or in your bullpen for the league minimum.
Warning Signs - Injuries to Pitchers Who Stuck (1998-2004): RHP - 7/14 (50%) LHP - 5/9 (55%)Yikes. If I were a pitcher I don't think I'd like to get taken in the Rule 5 draft. More than 50 per cent of the pitchers taken have suffered a serious arm or shoulder injury within six years of being drafted and usually within two or three. A lot of those pitchers were starters in the minors who were shifted to the 'pen in the majors. How does that compare to the major league average? That I don't know, but it would be an interesting study.
Top 5 Teams to Make Pick: 1. Detroit (9) 2. San Diego (8) 3. Washington/Montreal (8) 4. Colorado (7) 5. Tampa Bay (7)If I were Washington or Tampa Bay, I'd be gambling with the draft too. It's probably a good way for Colorado to find pitchers, because the certainly don't entice a lot of attractive free agent hurlers. San Diego is gaining a reputation as a reclamation center and finder of hidden talent, so the Rule 5 makes sense for them.
Top 5 Teams to Lose Picks: 1. Cleveland (11) 2. Pittsburgh (10) 3. Los Angeles NL (10) 4. Toronto (8) 5. Seattle (7)As far as Cleveland and Toronto go, they are two teams that heavily draft college players, which therefore means they only had three years (two-and-a-half really) to decide if a prospect deserves a 40-man roster spot. Drafting college players also tends to develop depth quickly within those systems. Pittsburgh, as a small market team, really should do a better job of identifying their own talent. Seattle, historically, has not been eager to give young players a chance to break into the majors, although that appears to be changing. Los Angeles is simply a gold mine for prospects.
The 2006 Rule 5 Draft:
ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 H/9 IP Joakim Soria 2.31 | 0.63 | 8.5% | 1.5% | 3.86 | 11.2 Sean White 4.40 | 1.64 | 6.4% | 3.8% | 10.91 | 102.1 Alfredo Simon 6.75 | 1.83 | 6.1% | 3.3% | 13.15 | 52.0 Edward Campusano 1.75 | 1.19 | 11.9% | 2.8% | 7.71 | 25.2 Jared Burton 4.14 | 1.32 | 8.0% | 3.3% | 8.64 | 74.0 Lincoln Holdzkom 1.87 | 1.08 | 8.0% | 2.9% | 6.68 | 33.2 Nick DeBarr 2.74 | 1.13 | 8.0% | 2.2% | 8.00 | 69.0 Kevin Cameron 2.99 | 1.20 | 8.8% | 3.5% | 7.19 | 66.1 Jay Marshall 1.02 | 0.87 | 6.4% | 1.2% | 6.68 | 62.0 Levale Speigner 3.26 | 1.29 | 5.7% | 2.2% | 9.47 | 58.0 Jim Ed Warden 2.90 | 1.08 | 7.2% | 4.4% | 5.34 | 59.0
AVG/OBA/SLG BB% K% HR% BABIP Ryan Goleski .296/.370/.528 | 9.7% | 23.5% | 4.6% | .359 Josh Hamilton .269/.333/.365 | 8.8% | 21.1% | 0.0% | .350 Jesus Flores .266/.331/.487 | 5.8% | 26.5% | 4.4% | .331 Adam Donachie .191/.325/.309 | 16.7% | 17.5% | 1.8% | .222 Jason Smith .263/.318/.424 | 6.5% | 26.9% | 4.6% | .323 Alejandro Machado .260/.352/.346 | 12.0% | 11.7% | 0.9% | .292 Josh Phelps .308/.366/.532 | 7.3% | 23.8% | 4.6% | .377 Ryan Budde .233/.312/.414 | 9.1% | 22.8% | 3.3% | .276
As we know from the above analysis, about one-third of all players picked in the Rule 5 draft will stick with their new teams throughout the entire season. As such, I will look at the seven (37%) most likely 2006 picks to remain in the majors in 2007.
1. Jason Smith (AAA)
It is a pretty lousy bench - especially for the American League East - but the Jays have chosen to spend their money on a handful of players, rather than spread it around. That, in turn, leads to players like Smith making the roster (and a 39-year-old fourth outfielder who has played only 18 games in the outfield the past two years). Smith is probably the least likely of the seven players to have an impact career, or even be playing in the majors in 2008. He is a stopgap.
CL - Todd Jones
CL - Brad Lidge
The bullpen will probably not strike fear in the hearts of many batters but there is some upside finally, with Soria perhaps possessing the most (raw) talent.
OK... that is one hard bench to predict, especially given that Washington has 19 batters on their spring invitee list and they could all conceivably win a spot on the roster. I do, however, expect the team to carry three catchers and Fick is the most versatile of the bunch (that also includes Danny Ardoin, Juan Brito and Brandon Harper).
Justin Duchscherer's injury problems open the door for Marshall to perhaps make the opening day roster if Oakland wants to carry three lefties. Witasick also had problems in 2006 with injuries. Street and Calero should be the two key players in the pen for Oakland. Embree adds stability from a veteran standpoint. If having three lefties is not desirable, then Flores could be on the hot seat after an inconsistent 2006.