The Rule 5 draft usually signals the end of the annual winter meetings, and while the names changing are generally unknown to the casual fan, we've seen in recent seasons that there are some real diamonds in the rough to be found.
Just last year, Brad Keller emerged from the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system to go 9-6 with a 3.08 ERA in 140.1 innings spanning 20 starts and 21 relief appearances for the Kansas City Royals on his way to a 3.5 WAR season.
Other notable Rule 5 success stories include Johan Santana (MIN), Shane Victorino (PHI), Dan Uggla (FLA), Joakim Soria (KC), Josh Hamilton (CIN), Odubel Herrera (PHI) and Marwin Gonzalez (HOU). And if we go way back, Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente was a Rule 5 selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954.
Who will be next to join that list?
Ahead is a closer look at this year's Rule 5 draft, including a breakdown of the format and a closer look at some notable prospects who could be selected.
Date: Thursday, December 13
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
The Rule 5 draft provides an opportunity for players who have gotten lost in the organizational shuffle with their current teams a chance to prove themselves elsewhere.
Here are the pertinent rules, courtesy of MLB.com:
- Clubs draft in reverse order of the standings from the previous season.
- Players who signed with their current club at age 18 or younger and have played professionally for at least five years are eligible to be selected, as are those who signed at 19 or older and have at least four years of professional experience.
- Not every club will make a selection, but those that do pick a player must pay $100,000 to the club from which said player was selected.
- Rule 5 Draft picks are assigned directly to the drafting club's 25-man roster and must be placed on outright waivers in order to be removed from the 25-man roster in the subsequent season. Should the player clear waivers, he must be offered back to his previous team for $50,000 and can be outrighted to the minors only if his original club does not wish to reacquire him.
That last part is important, as it essentially means that any player selected in the Rule 5 draft will have to be part of the team's active MLB roster for the entire 2019 season. Otherwise, he has to be placed on waivers and then offered back to his original team before he can be optioned to the minors.
It's also worth mentioning that only teams with an open spot on their 40-man roster at the time of the draft are allowed to select a player, so any roster maneuvering has to be done ahead of time.
RHP Jairo Beras, Texas Rangers
The Rangers originally signed Beras as an outfielder, handing him a massive $4.5 million bonus as part of the 2012 international free-agent crop. He showed some intriguing power—including a 22-homer season at High-A in 2016—but the considerable swing-and-miss to his game eventually led to his conversion to the mound this past season.
While the 6'6" right-hander is still extremely raw, he can touch triple-digits with his fastball, and he showed an impressive ability to miss bats at High-A with a 75-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 54 innings to go along with a 4.33 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.
He's boom-or-bust, but the upside should be enough for someone to roll the dice.
RHP Riley Ferrell, Houston Astros
After saving a school record 32 games in three years at TCU, Ferrell was expected to be one of the first players from the 2015 draft class to reach the majors.
Instead, surgery to remove an aneurysm from his throwing shoulder cost him most of the 2016 season, and while he returned with a strong season at Double-A, his numbers took a troubling turn in 2018.
Over 43 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, he posted a 4.53 ERA and 1.59 WHIP, as his excellent 11.7 K/9 strikeout rate was overshadowed by a spike in his walk rate to 5.9 BB/9. If he can regain his command, he has the fastball/slider combo to be a late-inning force.
LHP Tyler Jay, Minnesota Twins
The Twins took Jay with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 draft, ahead of the likes of Andrew Benintendi (7), Ian Happ (9) and Walker Buehler (24).
After closing games in college, the Twins thought his four-pitch mix would work in a starting role. However, injuries and ineffectiveness eventually landed him back in the bullpen in 2018.
If he simplifies his repertoire and his stuff starts to play up in shorter stints, he has the potential to be a shutdown lefty out of the bullpen. And after failing to deliver on lofty expectations, a change of scenery could go a long way.
SS Richie Martin, Oakland Athletics
Teams are always looking for quality middle infield talent, and Martin seems to finally be putting it all together after a breakout season at Double-A.
Taken No. 20 overall in the 2015 draft on the strength of his glove, Martin quickly fell off the prospect map as a result of his non-existent offensive game.
After hitting .224/.306/.315 with 17 extra-base hits in 325 plate appearances at Double-A in 2017, he repeated the level and upped his production considerably with a .300/.368/.439 line and 43 extra-base knocks in 509 trips to the plate.
While his 30-grade power will likely keep him from being a big league regular, there's now some hope that he can hit enough to carve out a role in the majors.
1B Josh Ockimey, Boston Red Sox
A team looking for some left-handed power off the bench could do a lot worse than rolling the dice on Ockimey.
While he whiffed 149 times in 117 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018, he also walked 70 times at a solid 14.7 percent clip to post a .356 on-base percentage and .811 OPS while slugging 21 doubles and 20 home runs.
He's limited to first base defensively and profiles best as a designated hitter, which limits his appeal. The power is for real, though, and he's more than just an all-or-nothing slugger thanks to his ability to work a walk.
Others to Watch
- LHP Travis Bergen, TOR
- 1B Lewin Diaz, MIN
- SS/OF Ray-Patrick Didder, ATL
- RHP Chris Ellis, STL
- RHP Junior Fernandez, STL
- 1B Jake Gatewood, MIL
- RHP Reed Garrett, TEX
- OF Michael Gettys, SD
- LHP Foster Griffin, KC
- LHP Taylor Guilbeau, WAS
- LHP Rob Kaminsky, CLE
- LHP Chris Lee, BAL
- RHP Jackson McClelland, TOR
- C Dom Nunez, COL
- RHP Jon Olczak, MIL
- C Ali Sanchez, NYM
- 2B Max Schrock, STL
- 2B Kean Wong, TB
- RHP Zach Thompson, CWS