Taking a look at today’s Rule 5 draft

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 draft will be held this morning at 10 a.m. Eastern time here at the Winter Meetings and the Orioles will have the 23rd pick. Any player selected in this draft must remain on the selecting team’s 25-man roster for the entire 2013 big league season or be offered back to his original club.

This is the draft where the Orioles got Ryan Flaherty last December.

Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft who are not on their major league organization’s 40-man roster and:

* Were signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years; or

* Were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years.

Unlike the June draft, where sometimes there is a consensus of what order the top players will be selected, 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. Some clubs will pass and not make a pick.

“We’ve been very active in the scouting for the Rule 5 draft,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said last night. “I think there are some good players available, but I don’t know if they are going to be there when we draft.”

I asked Baseball America’s Jim Callis about the Rule 5 draft crop available this year. He said, like many years, the talent available was “just OK.”

“Essentially the guys that look the most attractive are often the Latin American players because they have to be protected so young, Callis said. “Most of them sign at 16 and you’re protected at 20. So there are some guys that maybe throw 98 mph, but they may not have even played much at Low-A. But then you wonder if you can really keep them (on a big league roster all year). I haven’t heard any buzz about anyone in particular. The Orioles kept Flaherty last year and that worked out.”

Here is a list of players that are not currently on the Orioles’ 40-man roster and could be taken today in this draft:

Tim Bascom
Jesse Beal
Buck Britton
Bobby Bundy
Oliver Drake
Pat Egan
Eddie Gamboa
Sean Gleason
Jason Gurka
Caleb Joseph
Ty Kelly
Jorge Rivera
Tyler Townsend
Brian Ward
Brandon Waring
Ronnie Welty
Robbie Widlansky
Rick Zagone

In recent years the Orioles had players like Egan, Pedro Beato, Rocky Cherry and Steve Johnson lost to another team in this draft. Egan and Johnson were returned by Milwaukee and San Francisco, respectively.

Since you pay $50,000 to make a pick and get $25,000 back from the player’s original team if he is returned before the end of the year, some clubs look at this as paying essentially $25,000 to get at least a spring training look at another club’s player.

Last year there were 12 players taken in the Rule 5 draft and three of them came with the 23rd pick or later, the spot the Orioles hold today.

There are also Triple-A and Double-A phases of the draft, and the Orioles could also look to acquire players in those phases today.

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