Rule 5 draft primer

The Rule 5 draft, one of the last official activities at baseball's annual winter meetings, takes place here at the meetings on Thursday morning.

The teams select in the order they will in next June's draft, meaning the O's will have the 4th selection. They do not have to pick and, as most know, any player taken in the major league phase of the draft must stay on the selecting team's 25-man big league roster all year or be placed through waivers and then offered back to his original team. Over the years, most players taken in the draft are eventually offered back to the original team.

To read up more on what this draft is all about, click here.

Remember, the key thing with this draft is that a player taken must stay with his new club all year in the majors.

That makes it more difficult to keep these players and it can be hard for clubs to stash players on their 25-man rosters and take up a roster spot for a Rule 5 pick. Last year, the Giants took Steve Johnson from the Orioles in this draft, but he was offered back to the Orioles before spring training was over.

It is also possible that the Orioles will select a player with that fourth pick, then trade it. I have talked to more than one person here this week that thinks there is a very good chance of that happening.

Unlike the June draft, where sometimes there is a consensus of what order the top players will be selected in, the Rule 5 is more wide open and harder to predict. It simply depends on the preference of the selecting team. One club may take player X if they had the first pick while another team would prefer player Y.

O's director of player development John Stockstill told me recently that when draft time comes, the O's will have ranked the available players.

"You rank them several different ways. By position, by team need," Stockstill said. "You are, for the most part, talking about four plus years (of reports). Our development system has reports on opposing players, scouts file reports on opposing players. So it is not uncommon to have four to ten reports on any players you might acquire."

Last year, 17 players were taken in the major league phase of the draft.

Over the years, players taken in this draft have included Johan Santana, Jose Bautista, Paul Blair, Josh Hamilton, Dan Uggla and Jay Gibbons by the Orioles in December 2000.

John Manuel of Baseball America talks about some players that could be taken in the draft here in this blog, which mentions Pedro Beato of the Orioles.

Earlier this week here, Baseball America's Jim Callis predicted Wynn Pelzer from the O's organization could be selected in the Rule 5.

Some others from the O's organization that are not on the 40-man roster and thus available to go in this draft, in addition to Pelzer and Beato, are Pat Egan, Brandon Cooney, Johnson, Billy Rowelll, Brandon Waring, Robbie Widlansky and Tyler Henson. Earlier this week, I mentioned pitcher Raul Rivero as a long-shot candidate to go in the Rule 5.

To further confuse some fans (and media, too) there is a minor league phase of the draft. Basically in this phase, almost all top players from a club's organization are protected on one of that club's minor league rosters. But some players are left off and any of those players can be taken in the minor league phase.Those taken there can go right to the selecting clubs minor leagues.

Last December, the Orioles selected 25-year-old righty pitcher Jose Duran in the minor league phase from the Houston organization. He then went 5-3, 3.73 in 28 games for Class-A Frederick.

So there is probably more than you ever wanted or needed to know about the Rule 5 draft!


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