The 2019 MLB Rule 5 draft is set to take place Thursday as this year's Baseball Winter Meetings reach their conclusion in San Diego.
Former Minnesota Twins ace Johan Santana has become the face of Rule 5 success stories, while Roberto Clemente, Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton are among the hidden-gem hitters who went from getting left off their team's protected list for the offseason draft to making a major impact at the MLB level.
Let's check out all of the important details for this year's draft, including the selection order and format, before breaking down some of the prospects who could follow in the footsteps of those notable names.
Where: Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego
When: Thursday, Dec. 12 at 12 p.m. ET
Live Stream: MLB.com (audio only)
2019 Draft Order
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Baltimore Orioles
3. Miami Marlins
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Toronto Blue Jays
6. Seattle Mariners
7. Pittsburgh Pirates
8. San Diego Padres
9. Colorado Rockies
10. Los Angeles Angels
11. Chicago White Sox
12. Cincinnati Reds
13. San Francisco Giants
14. Texas Rangers
15. Philadelphia Phillies
16. Chicago Cubs
17. Boston Red Sox
18. Arizona Diamondbacks
19. New York Mets
20. Milwaukee Brewers
21. St. Louis Cardinals
22. Washington Nationals
23. Cleveland Indians
24. Tampa Bay Rays
25. Atlanta Braves
26. Oakland Athletics
27. Minnesota Twins
28. New York Yankees
29. Los Angeles Dodgers
30. Houston Astros
Any team that chooses a player Thursday—clubs can also opt to pass and forfeit the opportunity—must have a spot available on its 40-man roster. The player selected needs to spend the entire 2020 season on the 25-man major-league roster, or a minimum of 90 days if they are injured.
The selecting organization must pay an initial $100,000 to the player's original team. If it wants to send him to the minor leagues, the player first gets offered back to his previous club for $50,000.
Teams can make as many picks as they choose (one per round) as long as they have a 40-man slot open.
There is also a minor-league phase of the draft with pick fees ranging from $12,000 to $24,000. Those choices aren't forced to remain on the 25-man roster.
Top Prospects Available
Zack Brown, RHP, Brewers
Brown, a fifth-round pick of Milwaukee in the 2016 MLB draft, was cruising through the minors before struggling this year. He posted a 2.40 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with 199 strikeouts in 127.2 innings across two levels in 2018, which earned him a promotion to Triple-A for 2019.
The 24-year-old University of Kentucky product (he'll turn 25 on Sunday) wasn't able to find consistent success with the San Antonio Missions. His ERA (5.79) and WHIP (1.73) both spiked as he allowed opposing hitters to post a .298 average across 25 appearances (23 starts).
His strikeout rate remained solid (7.6 K/9) and showed signs of improvement late in the year as he punched out 30 hitters in 24.1 innings during August, the season's final month. That's a sign he made adjustments to attacking more advanced hitters and had the stuff to do it effectively.
Brown likely isn't a candidate to break camp as a member of a team's rotation in 2020. But he could be selected Thursday and used in a low-leverage, long-relief role to keep him on the 25-man roster. He'd also be available for spot starts when injuries arise.
Sterling Sharp, RHP, Nationals
Sharp spent most of 2019 at Double-A, but he was limited to 12 starts across three levels because of an oblique injury. He still posted promising numbers when healthy with a 3.99 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 49.2 innings for the Harrisburg Senators.
His performance in the Arizona Fall League generated far more attention. He was downright unhittable at times en route to a 1.50 ERA, .143 opponents' average and 24 punchouts in 24 innings across six starts. It was an uptick in performance that made his availability for the Rule 5 draft a surprise.
That said, at 24 without any Triple-A experience, he's a little behind the typical development curve for a prospect. And the jump directly from Double-A to the big leagues could prove difficult, which figures to make him a better fit with a rebuilding club that can afford some growing pains in 2020.
There's reason for optimism, especially after the AFL stint, but he's a couple years of strong development away from making a major impact.
Cristian Santana, INF, Dodgers
It's not the greatest group of available position players since most of the biggest names—Kansas City Royals outfielder Seuly Matias, Minnesota Twins shortstop Wander Javier and New York Mets infielder Shervyen Newton—aren't quite ready for The Show in 2020.
Santana is an intriguing option purely because his versatility could offset his short-term offensive shortcomings.
The 22-year-old Dominican Republic native has mostly played third base, but he's gained experience at all four infield positions during his journey through the minors.
Jason A. Churchill • Baseball Things @ProspectInsider
FTR, I spent the last 10-15M tracking down some first-hand info on Cristian Santana... ya know, the 'must-get' Rule 5 draft-eligible player. Lots of questions about the bat, including game power, hit tool. Biggest thing: Not ready for big-league pitching.
He played the entirety of 2019 at Double-A, where he compiled a solid .301 average, .756 OPS and 10 home runs across 102 games.
Like Sharp, Santana would have to skip Triple-A, which is always a consideration in the Rule 5 draft. But he could be a low-risk fifth or sixth infielder if a club is willing to wait for his power stroke to fully develop.