Baseball’s Rule 5 draft, in many ways, is confined to the rural route of the annual winter meetings, so it doesn’t get as much bandwidth/column inches as it should. But as many teams are learning or already know that the Rule 5 is a nifty way to add a high-ceiling prospect to the system. The catch, as you know, is that any team selecting a player in Rule 5 must keep the lucky draftee on the active major league roster for the entire season or until he can fake an injury substantial enough to eventually land him on the 60-day DL. Just last year, we saw teams choose a handful of vaguely useful to flat-out good relievers (e.g., Aquilino Lopez of the Blue Jays and Javier Lopez of the Rockies). And reaching back into the antediluvian mists of prehistory, luminary Roberto Clemente first made his way to the Pirates via Rule 5. This winter’s crop is the least impressive since I’ve been closely following this draft, but there were still some engaging names on the board. So, in my stateliest Lance Ito fashion, I shall now pass judgment on the 2003 class of Rule 5 draftees. All rise…
In 2002, at the tender age of 18, Andy Marte led the Appalachian League in RBI, was second in home runs, and had a composite line of .281/.344/.492. That performance made Marte an interesting prospect to be closely followed in 2003. This past summer in the Carolina League, Marte had another solid performance and jumped to grade-A prospect status. Baseball Prospectus minor league expert David Cameron said that Marte was the player “that most amazed me” in his most recent chat.
Marte is getting regular playing time at the Dominican Winter League as the third baseman of the Azucareros del Este club, and he was kind enough to have a brief conversation with Baseball Prospectus. We interviewed Marte before his team most recent game at the Estadio Tetelo Vargas in San Pedro de Macoris.