MLB: 7 Best Rule 5 Draft Options This Offseason

Bill Pivetz@@BPiv_SportsCorrespondent IIIDecember 4, 2012

MLB: 7 Best Rule 5 Draft Options This Offseason

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    The annual MLB Winter Meetings are officially underway and will conclude with the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday.

    The Rule 5 Draft allows teams to select players from other teams who were not kept on a 40-man roster. It also prevents teams from stockpiling too many young players in the minors when other teams could start them in the majors.

    Teams have already begun signing free agents. The Boston Red Sox agreed to a three-year deal with catcher Mike Napoli (via ESPN) and the Texas Rangers signed relief pitcher Joakim Soria to a two-year deal (via ESPN).

    While signing veteran free agents, teams should be wary of filling a 40-man roster or else they won’t be able to participate in the draft.

    With the draft only a couple of days away, here are some players that teams should keep their eyes on.

Miguel Celestino, RHP, Boston Red Sox

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    Miguel Celestino is the Red Sox No. 18 prospect, but he is the top-ranked pitcher available in the draft.

    Celestino was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2006. During his time there, he was slightly above average as he went 14-6 with a 3.62 ERA.

    He was traded to Boston in 2010 and went 2-2 in only nine starts. The following season, Celestino went 10-6 with a 3.84 ERA. He threw 106 strikeouts and only 33 walks in 140.2 innings.

    The 2012 season was a bit of a struggle as he posted his first losing record with High-A Salem.

    However, with his fastball having good sink and reaching 95 MPH, teams could convert Celestino into a reliever during the middle innings to face one or two batters.

Nate Freiman, 1B, San Diego Padres

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    Nate Freiman has the rare ability to hit for power and average.

    He has increased his home run total in each of his four seasons. He hit 11 in 2009, 14 in 2010, 22 in 2011 and 24 last season. Freiman’s average hasn’t dipped under .288 as well, with a high of .298 this past season.

    When not hitting for power, Freiman can also get on base. He hit at least 30 doubles and posted a .354 on-base percentage in the past three seasons.

    Freiman finished 2012 with Double-A San Antonio. If he’s drafted by the right team, he could see some playing time during the 2013 season as a late-inning replacement or pinch-hitter.

Destin Hood, OF, Washington Nationals

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    Destin Hood is the Nationals’ No. 8 prospect and it’s easy to see why.

    He has the ability to hit for power, yet he has excellent speed. In 2011, Hood hit 13 home runs, 83 RBI and stole 21 bases.

    Hood would have been able to increase those numbers in the 2012 season, but he dealt with a wrist and groin injury. He played in 99 games as he hit only three home runs and stole six bases.

    Hood can be a constant 20-20 hitter and play a corner outfield position. He’s spent most of his time playing all but one game in right or left field.

    At only 22 years old, Hood has the chance to be a future starting outfielder for many teams in the majors.

Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Cleveland Indians

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    The Indians' No. 11 overall prospect, Jesus Aguilar, is ranked as MLB’s No. 1 draft prospect.

    Aguilar had a fantastic 2011 season and he continued with a great 2012 season.

    He had 131 hits, 23 home runs and 82 RBI while hitting .284 in 2011. The following year, he had 123 hits, 15 home runs and 71 RBI with a .280 average.

    Along with his great batting, Aguilar is a great fielder. He only had four errors while playing first base in 117 games.

    Aguilar has good numbers, but he can definitely improve his plate discipline. In back-to-back years, he had at least 115 strikeouts and less than 60 walks.

    The Indians should do their best to keep Aguilar as they continue to rebuild, but any team could use his power off of the bench.

Ryan Chaffee, RHP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    The Angels drafted the right-hander in the third round of the 2008 draft and he began his career as a starter.

    Chaffee struggled in his first three seasons, posting a record of 18-25 with a 5.92 ERA.

    However, in 2012 Chaffee was able to pull it together. He went 7-1 between High-A and Double-A combined. His ERA was 2.60, and he struck out 84 batters while walking only 36.

    Chaffee also got work out of the bullpen, recording seven saves last season. He only had 65.2 innings pitched, 42 less than 2011, but may have found his place as a relief pitcher.

    With experience as both a starter and reliever, Ryan Chaffee could play a similar role as Yankees pitcher David Phelps, who filled in as a starter when a player was sent to the DL.

Blake Smith, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Lefty Blake Smith should attract the attention of many teams during the Winter Meetings.

    Smith had a slow start in his 2009 rookie season. He hit only one home run with a .214 average.

    The following year, Smith exploded from the left side of the plate. He hit 19 home runs with 76 RBI and a .281 average.

    Despite missing a large piece of the 2011 season with a sports hernia, Smith was able to hit 20 home runs and 73 RBI.

    This past season, he hit 13 home runs and 65 RBI with a .267 average in Double-A Chattanooga.

    While his power numbers may affect his average, Smith would provide many teams with power in right field. If he fails as a hitter, he could go back to pitching like he did in college.

Jason Hagerty, C, San Diego Padres

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    Jason Hagerty is the only catcher in MLB's top 20 Rule 5 prospects.

    Hagerty finished his first Single-A season with a .302 batting average and was considered a top prospect in the Padres organization.

    He had 130 hits with 14 home runs and 74 RBI. He also had 35 doubles and 88 walks.

    With his success, Hagerty was promoted to Double-A, but he struggled. He had a .231 average with only one home run in San Antonio.

    He was sent back down at the start of the 2012 season. However, it didn’t last long as he reappeared in San Antonio. This time, it was for the better. He had seven home runs with 30 RBI and a .248 average.

    Hagerty is also a decent defensive catcher. He threw out 34 percent of base runners in 2010 and 30 percent in 2011. It decreased to 19 percent in 2011, yet rose back up to 21 percent last season.

    There aren’t many teams looking for a starting catcher this offseason, but he could be an option for those looking for a backup who can hit.