While it may not have the sex appeal of the First Year Player Draft (also known as the Rule IV), the Rule V draft has become an important part of the Major League Baseball offseason.
Here's the quick rundown on how the process, which takes place during the Winter Meetings each year, works.
"Teams must file a 40-man roster with the league office by November 20. Any player who fits all of the criteria below is eligible for the Rule V Draft:
- Player is not on the 40-man roster
- Player has been in the minor leagues for at least four years if he was signed after age 19 (was three years before the 2006 CBA).
- Player has been in the minor leagues for at least five years if he was signed before age 19 (was four years before the 2006 CBA).
Any player drafted must stay in the major leagues all season. Before he is sent to the minors, he must be offered back to the club who had his rights for a $25,000 waiver fee. Often, teams will send a player in lieu of the fee."
The thing that makes the Rule V draft so tricky is that second-to-last sentence, "any player drafted must stay in the major leagues all season." It's because of that requirement that the average Joe tends not to devote a whole lot of time to thinking about the event.
Still, over the years, some pretty impressive talent has been gleaned from the Rule V. The most well-known player was Roberto Clemente, who was selected from the Dodgers by the Pirates in 1954. He's not the only one, though. Johan Santana, Dan Uggla and Josh Hamilton all got a fresh start as a result of the Rule V draft and each flourished into big-league stars.
There aren't many Ugglas or Santanas available in this year's crop, and there's certainly no Clemente, but that doesn't mean there aren't some usable parts.
Most of the talent comes on the mound and, specifically, out of the bullpen.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at the cream of the crop from the 2011 Rule V draft class.