With the prices of free agents soaring, teams are trying to complement their stars with complimentary players any way possible. One of the most cost-efficient ways of doing this is through the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft because players only cost $50,000 once selected. The biggest caveat to this is once a player is selected in the Rule 5, that player must spend the entire 2014 season on the selecting team's active 25-man MLB roster. If the selecting team likes the player but does not think they will be on the active roster the entire year, they can trade for their Rule 5 pick with their former team. If the selecting team does not want their Rule 5 pick, they can return the player to their former team. Participation is optional for teams and only organizations with an open 40-man roster spot can pick in the Rule 5 draft. To become eligible for the Rule 5 draft, the player must go through at least four MLB drafts in their career if they turned 18 after June 5th of the year they signed. If they are younger than 18 at that time, the player is ineligible for one more year, meaning they would have to go through five drafts in their career.
Here are a few examples:
- Player A was born June 4, 1988 and was drafted in 2009 out of college. He would be 21 years old as of June 5, 2009, therefore he would have to go through four drafts before being eligible for the Rule 5 raft. The earliest time Player A would be eligible to be selected is the offseason following the 2013 season. This goes for any player drafted out of college.
- Player B was born June 5, 1991 and was drafted in 2009 out of high school. As of June 5, 2009, Player B would be exactly 18 years old. The rules state that if a player is 18 years old or younger, he will receive a fifth year of protection before becoming eligible. This means Player B will not qualify for the Rule 5 draft until after the 2014 season.
- Player C was born June 6, 1991 and signed a contract as an international free agent in 2010. Player C would still be 17 years old as of June 5, 2009 so he would not be eligible until the offseason following 2014.
Now that the particulars are clear, the first thing to do is find out who is on the 40-man rosters. We'll start by listing players that ARE on the 40-man but are not in the MLB. Then, we can take a look at a few players that have been left off their team's 40-man roster and can now be picked by any of the other 29 MLB teams. We will start in the National League East with the Atlanta Braves. (Note: Players that have not reached full-season ball will not be considered.)
Protected MiLB Players
Right Handed Pitchers (Highest level achieved in parenthesis)
- SP David Hale (MLB)
- RP Juan Jaime (AA)
- SP Aaron Northcraft (AA)
- RP Wirfin Obispo (AAA)
- RP Luis Vasquez (AAA)
Left Handed Pitchers
- RP Ryan Buchter (AAA)
- RP Carlos Perez (A+)
- C Christhian Bethancourt (MLB)
- 1B Ernesto Mejia (AAA)
- SS/2B Tyler Pastornicky (MLB)
- SS/2B Elmer Reyes (A+)
- CF Todd Cunningham (MLB)
- LF Jose Constanza (MLB)
Unprotected MiLB Players
For the Rule 5 eligible players, I'd like to go team-by-team through their system to look at players with the potential to be picked. I'll start with the AAA Gwinnett Braves and work my way down the ladder.
AAA Gwinnett Braves
- 2B Phil Gosselin
- SS Sean Kazmar
- SS Tyler Greene
- OF Brandon Boggs
From this list, Gosselin, Kazmar, Greene and Boggs are all just organizational depth with a slim chance of cracking the MLB roster barring a catastrophic injury bug hitting Atlanta. I highly doubt any of these four will be selected.
AA Mississippi Braves
- RHP Mitch Atkins
- RHP Mike Lee
- LHP Ronan Pacheco
- C Braeden Schlehuber
- 2B Omar Luna
- LF Dan Brewer
- CF Mycal Jones
The two right handed pitchers Mitch Atkins and Mike Lee can safely be removed from contention. Atkins is a 28 year old journeyman signed by Atlanta out of the Atlantic Independent League in June 2013. Lee will be 27 and was also an Independent League signing, inking his deal in July 2012. He came from the Frontier League after being cut by Boston in April of the same year. Catcher Braeden Schlehuber will be 26 and has hit over .200 in only three of six professional seasons, including a .199 mark in 2013. Omar Luna played all over the infield but will be 27 and has no stick. Dan Brewer mainly handled left field but did see time at center and right as well in 2013 and hit well enough. He will be 26 next year, has some speed (23 SB in 2013), and is a career .276 hitter with the ability to take a walk. The Braves have better options for a player of this skill set (Constanza/Cunningham) as do most other organizations so I don't see him moving.
Southpaw Ronan Pacheco could be a candidate though with LOOGY potential. The lanky pitcher is listed at 6'6 and 193 pounds and split the year between the Lynchburg and Mississippi bullpens. He has mid 90's heat, a big breaking curve in the high 70's, a low 80's change up and a deceptive delivery with limbs flying around in all directions during his delivery. It is extremely tough to pick up on his release point, but his secondary stuff is not sharp enough or controlled enough to be consistently effective pitches. This would make him a great situational guy out of the pen to pitch to a lefty or two. He also racks up ground balls like he's hoarding food before the apocalypse. In 2013 he threw 48 innings with a 3.90 ground ball to fly ball ratio and 67% ground balls along with 8.6 K/9, 6.4 H/9, .194 batting average against and 7.3 BB/9. Center fielder Mycal Jones could be a possibility as well considering his draft pedigree and speed. Jones was picked in the 4th round in 2009 and hit .261 in his third try at AA with 29 stolen bases this past season in his age 26 season. A former shortstop, Jones has athleticism to burn and has shown power in the past with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 2010. A team selecting Jones would be needing a 5th outfielder/pinch runner as he is definitely not a full time or platoon guy.
A+ Lynchburg Hillcats
- LHP Robert Fish
- C Anthony Nunez
- 2B Emerson Landoni
- 1B Matt Weaver
A Rome Braves
- RHP Rafael Briceno
- 1B Edison Sanchez
- RF Daniel Carrol
- RF Felix Marte
Out of the 19 players that are eligible for the Rule 5 draft, I can only see two players with the possibility of being selected, and both players come with plenty of defects. Ronan Pacheco has LOOGY potential if he can find the plate without a GPS and Mycal Jones could be stashed as a 5th OF/pinch runner. He also should be reaching his peak performance coming into his age 27 season. As far as who may pick Jones or Pacheco, I have no idea.
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