One of the least utilized player drafts in sports is the Baseball’s Rule 5 draft. It’s cheap. It only cost $50K to draft a player but that player must remain on the 25 man major league roster or be offered back to the team from whom he was drafted. See Here.
Only nine players were taken in the 2013 draft. 21 of the 30 MLB teams passed entirely in the draft. The Phillies are usually right in the middle of Rule 5 though. They have only 38 players on their 40 man roster. Since they are rebuilding they might be very active in the draft which takes place on the final day of the MLB winter meetings, next Thursday December 11th in San Deigo.
They lost pitcher Seth Rosin in last year’s Rule 5 draft. He would pick up a win against the Phillies in the opening series of the season. They would soon regain him later in the season and send him to Reading and Lehigh Valley for the season.
The Phillies would draft reliever Kevin Munson only to give him back to the Diamondbacks during spring training. Munson had such an outstanding 2014 season at AAA that the Arizona added him to their 40 man roster to protect him from Rule 5 this time. In 2012 the Phillies drafted Ender Inciarte from Arizona but sent him back after opening day. He is now the starting centerfielder for the D-backs.
The Rule 5 experts at Baseball America are not high on any Phillies non-protected players being drafted. See Here. The only Phillies player mention by them with Rule 5 availability players is Willians Astudillo. He is an excellent contact hitter who finished second in the South Atlantic League batting race, is a catcher and can play the corner positions as a utility fielder. He hit over ,400 both in April and August for the Lakewood BluClaws.
A pitcher I would pick in the Rule 5 to draft in a heartbeat is the Phillies minor leaguer Colin Kleven. He reminds me of former Phillies reliever who was a starter in the minors, Ryan Madson. Kleven, the big 6’5″ right-hander was a starter for the Clearwater Threshers who finished strong going 4-3, averaging a strikeout an inning in his last 10 starts for a team that finished 40 games under .500 for the season.
In Kleven’s final start of the season, August 28th against the Tampa Yankees, he struck out swinging four in a row including the 3,4,5 and 6 hole hitters in the first and second innings. It was the most dominating four strikeouts I saw all season. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone like that coming in out of the pen to overwhelm the hitters for an inning or two like Kleven did against the heart of the Yankee high A team lineup?
Another favorite Phillies pitcher of mine is Miguel Nunez. The big right-hander was impressive as well for the Threshers in the final weeks of the Florida State League season. I watched him pitch a brilliant eight inning, one-run game with under a 100 pitch count. He pitched in that game in blistering 91 degree heat in the final home Sunday day game of the season. In his last eight starts he was 4-0 with an ERA of just over 2.00 for the Threshers.
Seven of the nine players taken last year in Rule 5 were relief pitchers. The Phillies have relievers available such as Colton Murray who has a big curve ball and ground ball pitcher Kyle Simon. Also big power lefty Ethan Stewart just converted to a reliever is also there to be taken.
Its likely that few position players will be taken. The Phillies have several available position players with special tool sets. They have the likes of left handed hitting first baseman Art Charles who hit 18 home runs with Clearwater against right-handed pitchers, more than any other Phillies player in the system. They also have available the best outfield arm for throwing out baserunners in baseball. Peter Lavin led all outfielders last year in assists with 17 between Clearwater and Reading. Carlos Alonso won a minor league gold glove at second base for Clearwater in 2013 but he split his time between second base and third base at Reading in 2014. Outfielder Brian Pointer had a nice season at Clearwater where he had double digits in homers, assists and stolen bases.
The Phillies have signed one young free agent pitcher in 23 year-old left handed reliever Elvis Araujo. The Cleveland Indians gave up on him. He has been outstanding in middle relief for his hometown Zulia team in the Venezuelan Winter League. He has been added to the 40 man roster to protect him from Rule 5. In 12 VWL games he has given up one run in 14.2 innings, striking out 13 and walking 4 to pick up 4 holds.
Otherwise, the Phillies have been mostly inactive in acquiring new talent except for signing many aging free agents let go from other organizations. These free agents appear to be slated for AAA and AA.
My Rule 5 prediction: it looks likely no Phillies products will be drafted. They will likely be active in adding a Rule 5 player or two since the Phillies do have two openings on the 40 man roster and say they are in a rebuilding mode looking to get younger and more athletic.