What is the Rule 5 draft?
The Rule 5 draft is a process which allows prospects stuck in crowded situations to get a crack at a big league job in another organization. Teams select prospects in reverse order of the previous season's record. Only teams with room on their 40-man roster may participate.
Once a player is selected, the drafting team must pay $50,000 in compensation to the player's former team. The prospect must remain on his new team's 25-man roster all season or be offered back to his old team for $25,000. Some clubs will try to hide a Rule 5 draft pick on the 15-day disabled list to retain his rights, as the Cubs did with David Patton last year.
Who is eligible to be taken in the draft?
Any player not on a 40-man roster who signed his first pro contract prior to December of 2006 is eligible to be drafted, except players who were 18 years or younger that signed in 2006. So for the most part, any prospect that was in the Diamondbacks organization prior to the 2007 draft and isn't protected on the 40-man roster is fair game. Some notable eligible prospects include outfielders Cyle Hankerd, Chris Rahl, and Joey Side; catcher Luke Carlin; infielders Bryan Byrne and Ricardo Sosa; plus pitchers Kyler Newby, Tony Barnette, Hector Ambriz, Matt Torra, Reid Mahon, Jason Urquidez, and Cody Evans.
What Diamondbacks prospects could be targeted in the draft?
None of them are likely to be targeted. Rahl, Byrne, Sosa, Torra, Urquidez, and Evans were all eligible last year and did not generate interest. They each got a year older and none of them had a breakout-type of season that would get them noticed by another club. Carlin and Newby were exposed to waivers prior to being removed from the 40-man roster last week; if other teams had interest, they would have made a claim rather than spend $50,000 and assume the roster inflexibility that a Rule 5 draftee brings. Side has battled injuries for the past two seasons and is likely off everyone's radar.
That leaves Hankerd, Barnette, Ambriz, and Mahon as the only D-backs prospects with a more than minimal shot of being selected.
Hankerd was a third round draft selection in 2006, the Hawaiian League Offensive Player of the Year last winter, and ranked among the best offensive players in the Southern League through May of this year. He has failed to consistently put up good numbers above A-ball, though. Scouts who saw him during a hot streak might have liked what they saw enough to recommend him to their scouting directors.
Tony Barnette led the Pacific Coast League in wins, but playing in Aces Ballpark masked his effectiveness, as he posted a 5.79 ERA overall. He is more of a command, polish, smarts, and stamina pitcher than a guy with electric stuff. That combined with the ugly ERA should allow him to fly underneath the radar.
Ambriz falls into a similar category as Barnette does. He may be slightly more appealing, as he made five starts in Mobile before joining the Aces, making his overall numbers look more attractive. He was also a fifth round pick and a two-way player at UCLA. There could be a scouting director out there who just missed him in 2006 or a National League general manager who wants to turn him into the next Micah Owings.
Reid Mahon was an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota, making him as anonymous as it gets. He has since perfected a sinking fastball that gets him noticed, however. Mahon has the same kind of Mobile/Reno splits as Ambriz and would be a savvy find for another organization.
Does anyone good ever get drafted?
The Diamondbacks know all too well that the occasional gem can be found among unprotected players. Dan Uggla was a prospect in a deep Diamondbacks system prior to being selected by the Marlins in December of 2005. Since then, the star second baseman has averaged 30 home runs and 90 RBI per year. Other notable Rule Fivers include Roberto Clemente, Johan Santana, and Josh Hamilton.
Rusty Ryal was eligible for last year's draft, but is now protected on the 40-man roster. There are probably a couple of teams who wish they had taken a flier on the versatile utility man.
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