Before discussing the players available in the Rule 5 draft we need to know where the roster stands now and what past Rule 5 drafts have looked like. As we go through this exercise there are some things to remember. The first is that roster spots are finite and valuable. The second is that modern roster construction leads to inflexibility in choosing players. Lastly it is important to keep in mind what you are giving up in order to carry a player through the winter and into the spring.
40 Man Roster:
Catchers (3): Carlos Ruiz, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp
Infielders (7): Cody Asche, Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley
Outfielders (7): Aaron Altherr, Domonic Brown, Marlon Byrd, Kelly Dugan, Ben Revere, Darin Ruf, Grady Sizemore
Starting Pitchers (7): Jesse Biddle, David Buchanan, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Adam Morgan, Jonathan Pettibone, Jerome Williams
Right Handed Relievers (9): Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus, Luis Garcia, Ken Giles, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Ethan Martin, Nefi Ogando, Hector Neris, Jonathan Papelbon
Left Handed Relievers (5): Elvis Araujo, Antonio Bastardo, Jake Diekman, Mario Hollands, Cesar Jimenez
That puts the roster at 38 right now. The only guy clearly worse than a Rule 5 player is Phillippe Aumont who is out of minor league options. Beyond that the Phillies only have 4 healthy MLB starting pitchers (Hamels, Buchanan, Lee, Williams) of which 2 could use real upgrades, and so those spots will likely come with 40 man spots attached. I have included Hamels and Byrd who could be traded, but have a good chance of bringing back a 40 man player or have their spot replaced by a 40 man player.
25 Man Roster:
This is my best interpretation of the locks to break camp given the current roster.
Starting Lineup: Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Asche, Brown, Revere, Byrd
Bench: Galvis, Hernandez, Rupp, Sizemore, Ruf
Rotation: Buchanan, Hamels, Lee, Williams, ?
Bullpen: Papelbon, Giles, Bastardo, Diekman, Hollands, De Fratus, ?
Notice the hitter list does not include Maikel Franco, I think the most likely scenario is that you see Byrd traded and Ruf or Asche sees OF time and Franco joins the hitter ranks. Rupp could be replaced by another back up catcher. Galvis is the only backup SS, so if you are removing him you need to replace him with an equally versatile glove. That leaves either cutting a guaranteed contract in the OF or cutting Cesar Hernandez (Which leaves the team without a second MI on the 40 man roster).
In the rotation the ? could be MAG, a FA, or a non-roster invite. In the bullpen Pap and Bastardo could go with one of the young relievers able to step into roles as the other relievers like Giles and Diekman move up in the ranks. There is room in the bullpen for another pitcher to be hidden or utilized (depending on the type of Rule 5 pick).
The Past 3 Rule 5 Drafts:
An important part of looking forward is looking at past trends, so here are the last 3 years of Rule 5 draft results.
|1||Rhiner Cruz||Kept||1||Josh Fields||Kept||1||Patrick Schuster||Returned|
|2||Terry Doyle||Returned||2||Hector Rondon||Kept||2||Adrian Nieto||Kept|
|3||Lucas Luetge||Kept||3||Danny Rosenbaum||Returned||3||Kevin Munson||Returned|
|4||Ryan Flaherty||Kept||4||Ryan Pressly||Kept||4||Tommy Kahnle||Kept|
|5||Cesar Cabral||Kept||5||Chris McGuiness||Returned||5||Brian Moran||Trade|
|6||Lendy Castillo||Kept||6||Alfredo Silverio||Kept||6||Seth Rosin||Returned|
|7||Gustavo Nunez||Kept||7||Jeff Kobernus||Returned||7||Wei-Chung Wang||Kept|
|8||Robert Fish||Kept||8||Kyle Lobstein||Trade||8||Marcos Mateo||Returned|
|9||Erik Komatsu||Returned||9||Starling Peralta||Returned||9||Michael Almanzar||Returned|
|10||Marwin Gonzalez||Kept||10||Ender Inciarte||Returned|
|11||Brett Lorin||Trade||22||Angel Sanchez||Kept|
|12||Brad Meyers||Kept||12||T.J. McFarland||Kept|
And here is a breakdown of position and kept vs returned.
We can see that about 61% of all Rule 5 picks are permanently acquired by their drafting team, but also 2/3rds of all Rule 5 picks are pitchers. In general relievers are the easiest players to keep because under current roster construction the average team carries 5 bench players (of which one must be a catcher, one must play SS, and one must play CF), but carries 7 relievers of which only 3-4 are used in high leverage situations.
Now given that the Rule 5 is a draft of outliers, here are the highlights of those drafted:
- Lucas Luetge : 0.0 WAR but has pitched in 110 games for 86.2 innings for the Mariners
- Ryan Flaherty: Bench bat for Orioles, compiled a .221/.283/.369 line across 3 seasons for a total of 1.6 WAR mostly driven by his defense
- Marwin Gonzalez: Bench bat for the Astros who emerged a bit in 2014 (after being near replacement over previous 2) to hit .277/.327/.400 while playing 71 games at SS, compiled 1.4 WAR during the season
- Josh Fields: The former first round pick has a 4.66 ERA over 92.2 IP in 2 seasons with the Astros, in 2014 he had a 2.09 FIP and a 2.8 BB/9 and 11.5 K/9
- Hector Rondon: Rondon cut his walk rate in half from 2013 to 2014, where he emerged with a 2.42 ERA and the Cubs closer job
- Ender Inciarte: The Phillies returned Ender who went on to have 516 PAs in AA in 2013, he received a promotion to the majors in 2014 where he hit .278/.318/.359 but defense put his final value at 3.7 WAR
- T. J. McFarland: McFarland has been a solid middle reliever for the Orioles logging 133.1 innings over the past two seasons
- Nate Freiman: Freiman was claimed by Athletics after being selected by Astros and released, he hit .274/.327/.389 in 2013
- Tommy Kahnle: Kahnle was very good in the first half for the Rockies, but was victimized by HRs in 18.1 innings in the second half
Up next we will look at potential draft picks. But keep in mind what we have seen here, which is pitchers fare best in the Rule 5 draft.