December 6, 2012
Minor League Update
Three Rule 5 Draft Picks Most Likely to Succeed
While the Rule 5 draft can be a bit over-hyped, it is exciting in the sense that there is at least a small chance that your team drafts the next Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana, or Joakim Soria. What? You've never heard of those guys? OK, I'll fill you in.
Hamilton is that guy who's going to sign a free agent deal worth about $25M per season in the very near future. When he was drafted by the Cubs and acquired by the Reds in the 2006 Rule 5 draft, he was known as the troubled, former #1 draft pick who had missed four seasons due to personal issues, injuries, and drug suspensions. Rarely is this kind of talent available, so you know the baggage had to be massive. And it was. In 90 games for the Reds, however, the 26 year-old hit .292 with 19 homers and an overall .922 OPS. He was traded to the Rangers the following offseason for Edinson Volquez and you probably know the rest. AL MVP. Five-time All-Star. Yada Yada Yada.
When the Twins acquired Santana from the Marlins after they had taken him from the Astros in the 1999 Rule 5 draft, he was a 20 year-old coming off of a decent season (4.66 ERA, 160.1 IP, 162 H, 55 BB, 150 K) for Lo-A Michigan in the Midwest League. The Twins look like geniuses now. But, of course, they probably weren't counting on 93 wins and two AL Cy Young Awards in his eight seasons with the team. They obviously saw some talent to draft a 20 year-old out of A-ball, though. And they had an opportunity to stash him in their bullpen because they were a last-place team not quite ready to compete in the AL Central. So his 6.49 ERA in 86 innings didn't really hurt an already bad team.
Soria was an unknown commodity when the Royals stole him from the Padres before the 2007 season. Signed out of Mexico by the Dodgers, he made just four appearances in Rookie ball before Tommy John surgery forced him out of action for the 2003-04 seasons. He pitched in the Mexican League in 2005 after being released by the Dodgers. The Padres, who signed him the next offseason, liked him so much (sarcasm) that he was loaned to a team in the Mexican League for most of the season. Much credit has to be given to the Royals for taking a guy who had a 3.89 ERA with a 7.3 K/9 and 15 saves in 39 Mexican League appearances and not much else to go on. The 23 year-old rookie earned his first big league save on April 10th, 2007 and finished with 17 saves, a 2.48 ERA, 19 BB, and 75 K in 69 innings.
I'm not going to say that my 'Three Rule 5 Draft Picks Most Likely To Succeed' are going to be the next Hamilton, Santana, and Soria, but there are some similarities in their paths. They've all had adversity to overcome and have diminished value for different reasons. They also have opportunities for playing time on three teams unlikely to have championship aspirations in 2013.
Alfredo Silverio, OF, Marlins: After a breakout 2011 season, when he hit .306 with 76 extra-base hits (16 HR, 42 2B, 18 3B), 85 RBI, and 11 SB in 132 games for Double-A Chattanooga, Silverio was probably just one season away from the big leagues. That season was supposed to be spent in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, where he would have likely continued to put up more ridiculous numbers before breaking into the majors late in the season. Instead, Silverio spent it recovering from injuries sustained in an offseason car accident.