Around the MinorsApril 24, 2007
Rule 5 Revisited
By Marc Hulet

We are about 20 games into the season for most teams so it is time to take a quick look back at last winter's Rule 5 draft. The story of the draft class so far has been the unbelievable play of Josh Hamilton, which is just about as unbelievable as Alex Rodriguez being on pace for 112 homers and 272 RBI.

Aside from Hamilton, though, there are some other Rule 5 picks playing key roles on their clubs. For the most part, teams are throwing their picks into the fire and challenging them early in the season.

In a column about a month ago, I took a look at the player who were taken in the winter draft and made some predictions. Based on the analysis from the previous eight Rule 5 drafts, I found that 35% of picks chosen will last the year on average. Currently 13 of the 19 picks from the most recent draft are still with the teams that chose them, which works out to a whopping 68%.

However, four of those have been stashed away on the disabled list without playing a game for their new team. Even so, those players must spend 90 days on the active roster or be sent back to their original team. For more on the rules, visit here.

The Success Stories:

                          AB   AVG   OBP   SLG  HR  SB   BB%   K% 
NYM to WAS Jesus Flores    9  .222  .462  .444   0   0  30.8  22.2
 TB to CIN Josh Hamilton  38  .289  .413  .737   5   1  17.4  26.3
BAL to NYY Josh Phelps    18  .278  .381  .444   1   0  14.3  22.2
CHC to TOR Jason Smith    32  .250  .314  .344   0   0   5.9  37.5
                           GP   IP    ERA   K/9  BB/9  AVG  WHIP  
MIN to  SD Kevin Cameron    6  10.0  0.00   9.0  4.5  .151  1.00  
CWS to OAK Jay Marshall    10   9.0  6.00   3.0  3.0  .240  1.22  
 SD to  KC Joakim Soria     8   9.1  2.89  12.5  3.9  .160  0.96
MIN to WAS Levale Speigner  7   9.1  3.86   1.9  5.8  .255  1.61
ATL to SEA Sean White       3   8.1  6.48   2.2  4.3  .299  1.68   

I don't think anyone expected Hamilton to have the kind of start to the season that he did. He has pretty much played himself into a starting job with the Reds, which was unfathomable at the beginning of the spring considering he missed almost four full seasons due to suspensions and injuries.

Josh Phelps appears to be resurrecting his career in the most stressful city to play in, especially for such a soft-spoken person. Platooning with defensive specialist Doug Mientkiewicz, Phelps is thriving in New York and could be earning himself even more playing time in the coming days.

Jason Smith, like Phelps, is not your typical Rule 5 pick because of the amount of MLB experience he has. Even so, he has never really had the opportunity to play regularly in the majors but he is now thanks to the injury to Toronto's starting third baseman Troy Glaus. Smith will probably be overexposed as a starting player (He has a line of .230/.270/.385 in 166 career MLB games), but time will tell.

Of the four hitters who made their clubs, raw Jesus Flores figures to see the least amount of time on the field. As the back-up catcher to Brian Schneider, Flores will have to be content with late-game appearances and the odd start. Robert Fick is also on the Nationals' 25-man roster as the third catcher. Flores received his first two major league hits on Sunday against the Marlins. Oddly, he has shown much better patience in the majors than he did in the minors.

Does anybody else think the Twins would like to have Kevin Cameron back right about now? He was a bit of an under-the-radar pick as a right-handed reliever who has put up modest minor league numbers. Credit the Padres' scouting department, which found Cameron and persuaded management to take a flyer on him. He is playing himself into a key role on a team in the playoff hunt.

Every team is baseball needs reliable left-handed relievers and the A's seem to have found one in Jay Marshall. The career reliever is thriving in his role. In games where he appears strictly as a LOOGY, he has yet to allow a hit. Unfortunately, the long-term future of successful Rule 5 left-handed relievers is not encouraging, regardless of first-year success. His ERA is misleading as he was roughed up on Saturday and allowed five runs (four earned).

Joakim Soria has been a godsend to the Royals' bullpen, which is currently ranked 13th out of 14 American League teams in ERA and worst overall in walks allowed. The three runs Soria has allowed so far this season came in one game against Detroit. He saved his second game on Sunday against, while allowing one hit and striking out two.

The beginning of Levale Speigner's MLB journey was a rocky one. Or, perhaps more appropriately, a wild ride. Speigner walked six batters in his first three appearances (4.2 innings) but has walked only one in the last four games. He also allowed seven hits in those first three games and just two since then. The Nationals desperately need some success out of the bullpen and Speigner could be turning things around.

Meet your prototypical Rule 5 pick: Sean White. White has made only three appearances this season and all three came in blowout games after Seattle's "big" off-season signings Miguel Batista and Jeff Weaver (twice) were knocked out of the game early.

The Injured (Decision Pending):

LAA to PHI Ryan Budde (strained oblique)
WAS to MIN Alejandro Machado (torn right labrum)
OAK to CIN Jared Burton (hamstring - on rehab assignment)
CHC to DET Edward Campusano (Tommy John surgery)

Neither shortstop Alejandro Machado nor left-handed reliever Edward Campusano are expected back this season, meaning their Rule 5 status will carry over until 2008, when they will have to spend at least 90 days on the active roster each. Catcher Ryan Budde is a future back-up catcher in the majors, at best, and with Carlos Ruiz and Rod Barajas entrenched in Philly, he'll probably be offered back to the Angels by mid-season unless a trade can be worked out. Jared Burton's rehab in Triple-A is going OK (2.25 ERA in four innings) but he will have a difficult time finding a spot on the Reds' roster.

The Returnees:

                                   AVG   OBP   SLG  AB  HR  BB-K
 KC to BAL Adam Donachie    (AA)  .067  .176  .067  30   0  3-12
CLE to OAK Ryan Goleski     (AA)  .250  .388  .250  40   0  8-8
                                   ERA    IP   H  BB-K   AVG
 TB to BOS Nick DeBarr      (AA)  5.19   8.2  13   7-5  .351
CHC to HOU Lincoln Holdzkom (AA)  0.00   2.0   0   1-2  .000  
TEX to PHI Alfredo Simon   (AAA)  3.10  20.1  10  8-14  .145
CLE to PHI Jim Ed Warden   (AAA)  2.35   7.2   7   0-6  .241   

None of the returned players are setting the world on fire, aside from Alfredo Simon, who will no doubt get a shot in Texas if he continues to pitch successfully. Jim Ed Warden is pitching OK, but Cleveland has a number of other pitchers ahead of him on the depth chart and he is hurt by the fact he's not on the 40-man roster.

Here is a question for the readers: Do you think Hamilton's success will last? And if so, how good will he be?


Hamilton will definitely cool off, but I feel he should be good enough to warrant some Rookie of the Year contention by the end of the year.

As a Royals fan, I've definitely been happy about Joakim Soria. Hopefully he'll evolve into a closer in the same level of Dan Quisenberry and Jeff Montgomery.

I think its going to take a bit more time before we know the real affects of the Rule 5 change.

I got on the Hamilton Bandwagon early and my fantasy teams have benefitted!

Hamilton can't hit lefties, and as long as Narron figures it out and avoids it as much as possible, then Hamilton will succeed. He has a good plate approach, doesn't swing at balls out of the zone often (but he has shown to be a sucker at times for a high fastball) and knows how to take a walk. He can hit the ball to all parts of the field though, and that has been very impressive. I am buying into him.

I traded Josh Hamilton and Ryan Church to a leaguemate for Brandon Webb in a roto baseball league. My trade partner's pitching is stacked, but he is ranked last in homers, runs, and RBIs, mostly because of his dreadful outfield. One jerk in my league made a big stink about it, and he was the one who waived Hamilton before he started hitting home runs left and right.

Hate to mention fantasy here, but regarding the post by Beals...astitute trade there, but don't go around saying the guy who complained is a jerk...he has a point. In any competant league, that trade wouldn't even happen, much less fly by the commish or protest votes.

I don't see why Hamilton wouldn't keep this up. He was a top draft pick for a reason, and personal demons really have been the only things holding him back all these year. My only regret is that he isn't doing it for TB...they held on to him and kept their faith in him for so long, and it's unfortunate that he has finally broken out the moment they let him go.

Here are my bona fides. In Albert Pujols' rookie year, I advised a fantasy team owner to trade him in July because pitchers would figure him out eventually and he would slump. Given that, I still insist that Hamilton will slump badly by mid-year as his inexperience exposes him to major league pitchers.

Peter, I can assure you my league is competent. I'm not sure why you think this is a questionable trade if you also believe Hamilton is the real deal. I loved his 6 BBs to 2Ks ration against righties, and 8/10 overall. He appears to be a much more patient hitter than others who have gotten off to fast starts, like Carlos Quentin last season, and Jeff Francoeur the season prior. Also, Ryan Church is a superb offensive talent who hits for average, power, and gets stolen bases. He is no longer a platoon player, which is a result of his improving defense.


Ryan Church is a superb offensive player ?

Maybe the real jerk is you !

Of course the word superb is relative. I believe Church is an excellent offensive player. He's a career .274 batter with a .350 OBP, driven down by his struggles during his initial stint as an Expo. He slugged over .500 last season, almost made it two seasons ago, and is doing it this year. Of course, this topic is more about Hamilton than Church, but offense is the word that first comes to mind when I think of both players.