Rule 5 Preview: Where are we now?

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.

1Rhiner CruzKept1Josh FieldsKept1Patrick SchusterReturned
2Terry DoyleReturned2Hector RondonKept2Adrian NietoKept
3Lucas LuetgeKept3Danny RosenbaumReturned3Kevin MunsonReturned
4Ryan FlahertyKept4Ryan PresslyKept4Tommy KahnleKept
5Cesar CabralKept5Chris McGuinessReturned5Brian MoranTrade
6Lendy CastilloKept6Alfredo SilverioKept6Seth RosinReturned
7Gustavo NunezKept7Jeff KobernusReturned7Wei-Chung WangKept
8Robert FishKept8Kyle LobsteinTrade8Marcos MateoReturned
9Erik KomatsuReturned9Starling PeraltaReturned9Michael AlmanzarReturned
10Marwin GonzalezKept10Ender InciarteReturned
11Brett LorinTrade22Angel SanchezKept
12Brad MeyersKept12T.J. McFarlandKept
13Coty WoodsReturned
14Nate FreimanKept
15Braulio LaraReturned

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.

Photo by Keith Allison

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.


  1. Romus

    Somebody has to be the next Johann Santana or even the next Shane Victorino.

    MattW….btw PhPhils may be looking for new ownership/ideas and you get to keep the client base without transfer fees!

    • MLL

      Matt- I second Romus’ proposal.

  2. Cormican

    Romus – Actually no one has to be the next Santana or Vic. Both were drafted before the rule change that allowed for one more season of development. That one season is pretty significant as it allows teams to get College hitters to Double or even Triple-A for a full season before they have to make a decision and high schoolers to High-A in many cases before needing to decide whether to protect. Without that extra season the last few years I’m not sure if the Phillies would have protected Diekman, Altherr, Dugan or Rupp as it clogs your 40-man with names that might be 2-3 years away. Those guys now get protected as they’re only 1-2 years away and they’ve been able to perform at higher levels of the minors. The days of drafting Vic and Santana may well be gone.

    • Romus

      Yes, the added year does make things different for the major league teams in their development plans for prospects. Keeping them that additional year may not always be in the best interest of the player but the teams prefer it.
      What I was inferring, is that maybe the Phillies could unearth a gem or a even an everyday mainstay player from the Rule 5 list of eligibles.
      More so then , say a David Herndon.
      Perhaps wishful thinking.

  3. PHack?

    First, there is the theory of the great risk, and potential loss by carrying rule 5 players through the winter and spring. Then it is ruined by actually showing the current 40 man roster. Let’s say that the team could be able to trade , say, Hamels , with , say, a couple minor leaguers. In return they get a package including 4 really good 40 man roster players, What?, they would turn the deal down? because they only have 2 open spaces and they can bounce only Aumont? I would guess they would make adjustments. I know I would. I see at least five guys I would bounce without much hesitation. And numerous others of little risk in releasing.

    I suspect this is leading to the recommendation that a couple of starting pitcher candidates. I would not like that. I guess that the starting pitcher list is filled with injury risks, woefully inexperienced pitchers, and guys with command and control issues. Seems to me , if the pitcher was a starting candidate with any reasonable chance of success, they would not make it to this list,
    Also, I think Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez would be that 5th starter , or in tandem with Jerome Williams. Then they could augment that with Nola, or the AAA staff. So,, they good.

    I would go with a back-up in CF/OF , with possibility for more. I would offer a bribe to Arizona to get the 1st pick in Rule 5, and take DeLino DeShields.
    Then, holding on to the 10th pick, I add a back-up Catcher (i.e. Steven Baron,Brian Ward, Carlos Hernandez, Roberto Pena, Jose Briceno). They get the opportunity to pick one of those.
    Then they can get something worthwhile for the future. They would be easy to carry for the season, and they have little standing in the way for playing time in the 2015 season.

    • Romus

      PHack….concerning your scenario of the Hamels trade for 4 players. Some of the players may not need to be protected or added to the 40, due to recent or current drafting/signing by the trading team.
      I would hope the Phillies FO, in any Hamels package, will cover that aspect of the dealings.

      • PHack?

        I was going for a “what if” thing. What if they were offered 4 good guys who needed 40 man spots. I would hope they take them , and make a few designated for assignment moves.

  4. Cormican

    Romus- I know, I just think that ship largely sailed with the rule change. I’m intrigued by DeShields and Skole because in them I see the only guys since the late ’00s who could be a Regular if everything goes right. With an MLB club going nowhere taking a risk on one of the injured players isn’t a bad option.

    • Romus

      I also like Deshields. And I think one can make a case for him sticking thru the year.
      I assume the Phillies turn for selection is high based on their poor record and Deshields would still be o the board.
      Skole definitely has the power and size. Not sure if third base will be a good fit for him. And his swing and miss at 23% K rate could be a detractor to some teams.