Rule 5 Revisited
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.
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?