When a player is selected in the Rule 5 draft, they go through a series of emotions ranging from sadness leaving what is likely the only organization they have ever known, to elation at the chance to make the parent club and earn that MLB paycheck. For a quick refresher on Rule 5 rules, check out this FAQ from MLB.com. For a mere $50K, teams can acquire talent for extremely cheap and without giving anything up except money, but with one caveat. The player selected has to spend the entire upcoming season on the 25 man roster.
Each year around 10-20 players are selected in the annual Rule 5 draft, but not all stick with their new clubs. Dating back to the 2012 Rule 5 draft, a handful of players have made an impact. In 2012, a trio of players - RHP Josh Fields, RHP Hector Rondon, and CF Ender Inciarte - have turned into productive pieces for their drafting team. Rondon is now the closer for the Cubs, and Inciarte was a key cog to the blockbuster Shelby Miller trade this winter.
In 2013, Marlins first baseman Justin Bour was selected from the Cubs farm system in the minor league portion of the draft that gets very little to no attention. The 2014 draft even had a couple success stories as outfielders Delino DeShields Jr and Odubel Herrera garnered a significant amount of playing time for the Rangers and Phillies, respectively.
With Spring Training already past the halfway point, teams are starting to pare down their rosters in advance of Opening Day. The first team to return a Rule 5 pick this year is the Atlanta Braves as they cut ties with southpaw reliever Evan Rutckyj (pronounced rut-skee). The 24 year old Canadian was originally a 16th round pick of the Yankees back in 2010 from St. Joseph's Catholic in Ontario.
He spent the 2015 campaign split between Tampa (A+) and Trenton (AA) with solid results. Over 61.2 innings of work, Rutckyj posted a 2.63 ERA and 2.59 FIP with 82 punch outs (12.0 K/9) to just 21 walks (3.1 BB/9) which was good for a 3.9 K/BB ratio. He induced 1.46 ground outs to air outs and limited the opposition to a .243 average despite a .356 BABIP. In layman's terms, he kept the ball on the ground, struck out a lot of guys without walking a ton, and had bad luck on balls finding holes. He did this by working with a low 90's fastball with good movement, and a fringy slider. Scouting reports also mention he had command issues which means he was having trouble throwing the ball where he wanted in the zone.
As a prospect he still looks like a solid left handed option out of the pen, but he only has 17.2 innings of experience at the AA level or above. His limited experience against advanced hitters, combined with an iffy spring performance where he walked five batters in three innings, led Atlanta to believe he just wasn't quite ready for an extended stint in the big leagues. For Yankees fans, you just got back a decent potential bullpen arm ready for the upper levels that you thought you had lost. Can't really complain there.
Here is a video of Rutckyj facing off against Blue Jays CF Dalton Pompey from a few years ago on the back fields in Spring Training. It should give you an idea of his delivery. (h/t to MLBProspectPortal for the video via YouTube)