Thursday, December 06, 2007

Rule 5 Day

The annual Rule 5 draft takes place this morning, and I'm a little nervous because the Twins have left several good players unprotected. You may recall that last year, San Diego nabbed pitcher Kevin Cameron from the Twins in the Rule 5, and he went on to post a 2.79 ERA out of the Padres' bullpen. I'd hate to see something like that happen again.

Players become eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft in the fourth year after they are originally signed (fifth year for a player who was signed at age 18 or younger). Only players not on a team's 40-man roster are eligible to be drafted. Drafting a player has some risk involved, because in order for a team to keep him, the player must remain on their 25-man active roster for the entire season. Johan Santana (still a Twin!) was perhaps the most notable Rule 5 draftee of all time, but as examples like Cameron and Cincinnati's Josh Hamilton illustrate, smaller successes are possible.

The Twins have left a few notable prospects off their 40-man roster this year, and there are a few guys I could see another team take a shot at. One of those players is Yohan Pino, a skinny 24-year-old Venezuelan who finished up the 2007 season in Class-AA New Britain. Pino holds a 2.87 ERA and 267/59 strikeout-to-walk-ratio over 276 2/3 minor-league innings. Pino cruised through the lower levels of the Twins' system, but struggled a bit in Double-A last year. Nevertheless, ZiPS -- a system that projects players' numbers for a given season based on age and past performance -- posits that Pino would post a 4.46 ERA in the majors next year... that's better than the projected ERAs for Scott Baker, Carlos Silva, Boof Bonser and others. That might be a long-shot, but Pino does have some nice upside.

Another player that the Twins could lose is Garrett Guzman, who is one of the few quality hitting prospects in the organization. A 24-year-old corner outfielder, Guzman hit .312/.359/.453 in Double-A last year, and for his minor-league career he is a .290/.341/.439 hitter. Lacking legitimate power and speed, Guzman is far from a phenomenal prospect, but being that their system is so thin on decent hitting prospects, he's a guy the Twins would hate to lose.

Other Twins prospects who could potentially be swooped in the Rule 5 include SP Kyle Aselton, RP Ricky Barrett and 1B David Winfree.

Of course, analyzing only the players the Twins stand to lose during today's draft is a rather negative focus. The Twins will have their chance to nab another team's forgotten prospect as well, and I suspect they'll select somebody. The Twins haven't made a big splash with their Rule 5 acquisitions in recent years -- last year they selected Alejandro Machado, who spent the season on the disabled list; the year before they selected Jason Pridie, who they sent back to Tampa Bay before the season started. Still, there are some intriguing players out there that might be available when the Twins choose. Baseball America has a good list of Rule 5 candidates here that is worth looking over. Among the names to keep an eye on: outfielder Brian Barton, third baseman Jamie D'Antona, and defensive-minded second baseman Luis Valbuena.

4 comments:

twayn said...

Well, the Twins ended up losing 6 players in the Rule 5 draft this year (ML + AAA phases) and added...zero. Guzman was probably the biggest loss, but we could end up getting him back, you just never know. I don't know if he'll stick all year in Washington given the number of outfielders they have. Also, we did pick up Brian Buscher in last year's Rule 5 draft, and he hasn't been a total bust. Considering all the open positions on the team right now, I guess a little flexibility with the 25 man roster isn't a bad thing.

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