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This year’s Rule 5 Draft was like the winter meetings as a whole, in that
it wound up being almost completely a non-event. While previous Rule 5
efforts have seen teams snag some real prospects, Ken Phelps All-Stars, or
pitchers who suddenly found an extra 8 mph on their fastball change teams,
this year’s big Rule 5 name was a football player, Ricky Williams.


Granted, Williams isn’t just any old football player: he won the Heisman
Trophy this year, broke Tony Dorsett‘s Division I-A rushing record
(although the new record may fall again next year), and is widely expected
to be a top, if not the top, pick in this year’s NFL draft. So Montreal’s
selection of Williams with the fourth overall pick and subsequent sale of
Williams to Texas for $100,000 did merit headlines. However, all the
attention obscured the irrelevance of the deal: Williams has been a
terrible baseball player, boasting neither plate discipline nor power, and
the Expos only made $50,000 on the deal, enough to pay for about a week of
Vlad Guerrero. That seems pretty nickel-and-dime, and you have to wonder if
Jim Beattie couldn’t find better ways to spend his time.


The Red Sox drafted a possible member of their starting rotation when they
grabbed the touted but oft-injured lefty Joel Adamson from Oakland, who had
just signed him away from Arizona earlier in the day. Adamson broke through
with a solid 1997 as a swingman for Milwaukee (3.54 ERA, 19 BB/56 K in 76.1
IP), and he gives the Sox either a solid long LH reliever or a
high-risk/high-return starter for the fifth slot.


The Twins made the bizarre selection of Josue (no, that’s not a typo)
Espada, a shortstop from the Oakland chain who mimics Luis Castillo at the
plate: lots of walks and nothing else of note. With Pat Meares mercifully
excised, Espada may get a shot at the starting shortstop job, but that’s
hardly an improvement or the type of move the Twins need to make at this
point.


Two other shortstops worth mentioning found new addresses in the Rule 5
draft. Benji Gil, the onetime Texas starter, went to Florida in the
Triple-A portion, meaning that he has to spend the year at or above
Triple-A. This was one of the day’s most sensible selections, as the Fish
need someone or something to fill in if (or just as likely, once) Alex
Gonzalez
fails or gets hurt in his rookie season in the majors. David Lamb,
the disappointing Oriole prospect, went to Tampa Bay, and while he faces a
tight infield-scrub situation in the Juicer, he has a higher upside than
Miguel Cairo.


Few other names of note changed hands. The Marlins picked up Alberto
Blanco
, an interesting LH reliever with decent velocity, from the Astros
with the top overall pick; Blanco is easily the most likely Rule 5er to
stick this year. Eric Ludwick, whose Marlin career stalled out because of
numerous freak injuries, went to Toronto by way of Detroit, and he’s a
great sleeper in the Toronto pen or even as their fifth starter. The
Cardinals picked up Alberto Castillo, the former Met catcher, to serve as
one of Eli Marrero‘s backups, while the A’s picked up longtime BP favorite
Eric Stuckenschneider, who drew 88 walks between Double-A and Triple-A last
year, but is already 27. The Pirates drafted middling Met reliever Scott
Sauerbeck
, who could easily find himself at the back of the Bucs’ pen this
year. The Arizona Wildcats’ starting quarterback, Keith Smith, found
himself selected in the draft, this time by Toronto in the Double-A
portion. Although he was technically still Detroit’s property, he hadn’t
played since 1996.


Finally, in the day’s biggest oddity, the Dodgers used a Triple-A round
pick to take Ryan Jaroncyk, the Mets’ #1 overall pick in 1995. Jaroncyk was
a slick-fielding, non-hitting shortstop who actually retired last year,
giving the team back most of his signing bonus in the process. What the
Dodgers expect from this pick is anyone’s guess.


Hitters
(Averages: .260 BA, .330 OBA, .420 SA, .260 EQA)

Alberto Castillo C Bats R                   Born 1976 Age 23
Year Team     Lge  AB   H  DB  TP  HR  BB   R RBI  SB  CS Out   BA  OBA  SA   EQA
1997 Norfolk  Int  83  17   0   0   1  15   9   5   1   0  66 .205 .327 .241 .212
1997 NY Mets  NL   59  12   1   0   0   9   4   3   0   1  48 .203 .309 .220 .184
1998 Norfolk  Int  49   8   0   0   1  10   4   3   0   0  41 .163 .305 .224 .194

Josue Espada SS Bats R                      Born 1976 Age 23
Year Team     Lge  AB   H  DB  TP  HR  BB   R RBI  SB  CS Out   BA  OBA   SA  EQA
1996 So Oregn Nwn  55   9   0   0   1   3   1   1   0   0  46 .164 .207 .218 .105
1996 W Michgn Mid  76  18   2   0   0  10   7   5   1   1  59 .237 .326 .263 .212
1997 Visalia  Cal 439  99   4   1   3  59  49  26  23   9 349 .226 .317 .260 .214
1998 Huntsvil Sou 161  38   5   1   1  21  18  12   5   3 126 .236 .324 .298 .224

Benji Gil SS Bats R                         Born 1973 Age 26
Year Team     Lge  AB   H  DB  TP  HR  BB   R RBI  SB  CS Out   BA  OBA   SA  EQA
1996 Oklahoma AA  291  60  13   1   5  23  21  19   4   5 236 .206 .264 .309 .193
1997 Texas    AL  313  68  13   2   5  18  20  22   1   2 247 .217 .260 .319 .193
1998 Calgary  PCL 447  84  14   2   9  36  28  26   8   3 366 .188 .248 .289 .181

David Lamb INF Bats B                       Born 1976 Age 23
Year Team     Lge  AB   H  DB  TP  HR  BB   R RBI  SB  CS Out   BA  OBA   SA  EQA
1996 High Des Cal 447  78  13   1   2  35  15  15   2   3 372 .174 .234 .221 .135
1997 Frederck Car 250  58  14   1   2  20  22  18   2   1 193 .232 .289 .320 .211
1997 Bowie    Eas 268  83  16   2   3  28  37  35   0   0 185 .310 .375 .418 .279
1998 Bowie    Eas 239  65   7   1   2  24  24  23   1   2 176 .272 .338 .335 .238
1998 Rochestr Int 177  49   5   1   1  15  17  16   1   4 132 .277 .333 .333 .230

Eric Stuckenschneider OF Bats R             Born 1972 Age 27
Year Team     Lge  AB   H  DB  TP  HR  BB   R RBI  SB  CS Out   BA  OBA   SA  EQA
1996 Savannah SAL 503 111  11   2   9  73  56  40  17   9 401 .221 .319 .304 .226
1997 Vero Bch Fla 461  97  13   1   4  75  53  29  15   6 370 .210 .321 .269 .218
1998 SanAnton Tex 282  60   9   3   2  33  28  18   8   2 224 .213 .295 .287 .210
1998 Albuquer PCL 260  62   7   4   5  35  34  25  13   6 204 .238 .329 .354 .245

Ricky Williams OF Bats R                    Born 1977 Age 22
Year Team     Lge  AB   H  DB  TP  HR  BB   R RBI  SB  CS Out   BA  OBA   SA  EQA
1996 Piedmont SAL 273  49   4   1   3  13   9   9   7   4 228 .179 .217 .234 .134
1997 Piedmont SAL 137  25   4   0   1   9   7   5   4   2 114 .182 .233 .234 .148
1998 Batavia  NYP  53  12   0   0   0   1   2   2   2   2  43 .226 .241 .226 .139


Pitchers
(Averages: 4.00 ERA, 9.00 H/9, 1.00 HR/9, 3.00 BB/9, 6.00 K/9, 1.00 KWH)

Joel Adamson Throws L                                  Age 27
Year Team      Lge    IP   H  ER  HR  BB   K   ERA  W  L   H/9 HR/9 BB/9   K/9   KWH  PERA
1996 Charlott  Int 101.3 110  39  14  29  72  3.46  6  5  9.77 1.24 2.58  6.39  1.22  4.35
1996 Florida   NL   11.3  20   9   1   6   6  7.15  0  1 15.88 0.79 4.76  4.76  0.22  7.15
1997 Tucson    PCL  31.0  40  15   4   8  18  4.35  1  2 11.61 1.16 2.32  5.23  0.76  5.23
1997 Milwauke  AL   78.7  75  29  12  16  54  3.32  5  4  8.58 1.37 1.83  6.18  1.82  3.66
1998 Arizona   NL   23.3  27  19   5  10  13  7.33  1  2 10.41 1.93 3.86  5.01  0.47  5.40

Alberto Blanco Throws L                                Age 23
Year Team      Lge    IP   H  ER  HR  BB   K   ERA  W  L   H/9 HR/9 BB/9   K/9   KWH  PERA
1996 Quad Cit  Mid  44.0  56  30   5  15  40  6.14  1  4 11.45 1.02 3.07  8.18  1.43  5.11
1997 Kissimme  Fla 107.7 112  56   6  50  71  4.68  5  7  9.36 0.50 4.18  5.93  0.68  3.85
1998 Kissimme  Fla  10.3  16  11   2   3   9  9.58  0  1 13.94 1.74 2.61  7.84  1.27  6.97
1998 Jackson   Tex  56.7  74  41  10  24  47  6.51  2  4 11.75 1.59 3.81  7.46  0.93  5.88

Eric Ludwick Throws R                                  Age 27
Year Team      Lge    IP   H  ER  HR  BB   K   ERA  W  L   H/9 HR/9 BB/9   K/9   KWH  PERA
1996 Louisvil  AmA  60.7  62  24   4  27  62  3.56  4  3  9.20 0.59 4.01  9.20  1.72  3.86
1997 Edmonton  PCL  18.3  23   6   1   4  16  2.95  1  1 11.29 0.49 1.96  7.85  2.09  4.42
1997 Louisvil  AmA  78.7  78  32   7  28  68  3.66  5  4  8.92 0.80 3.20  7.78  1.59  3.66
1997 Oakland   AL   25.3  31  19   6  15  14  6.75  1  2 11.01 2.13 5.33  4.97  0.32  6.04
1998 Charlott  Int  26.0  29  17   1  13  20  5.88  1  2 10.04 0.35 4.50  6.92  0.80  4.15
1998 Florida   NL   34.0  47  28   8  16  25  7.41  1  3 12.44 2.12 4.24  6.62  0.62  6.62

Scott Sauerbeck Throws L                              Age 27
Year Team      Lge    IP   H  ER  HR  BB   K   ERA  W  L   H/9 HR/9 BB/9   K/9   KWH  PERA
1996 St Lucie  Fla  91.0 140  50   2  35  42  4.95  4  6 13.85 0.20 3.46  4.15  0.27  5.54
1996 Binghmtn  Eas  44.0  62  28   4  13  22  5.73  2  3 12.68 0.82 2.66  4.50  0.45  5.52
1997 Binghmtn  Eas 124.0 178  96  14  53  61  6.97  3 11 12.92 1.02 3.85  4.43  0.30  5.95
1998 Norfolk   Int 158.0 200  79   7  68  92  4.50  8 10 11.39 0.40 3.87  5.24  0.47  4.73


For those of you who noticed, PERA is a new stat we’re introducing. As Clay
explains it, "PERA is ‘peripheral ERA’: it is the ERA that one would expect
from the pitcher’s innings, hits, home runs, and walks. It is usually quite
close to the actual ERA, although for some pitchers (check out Kerry Wood)
the difference can be extreme. In most cases, PERA functions as a sort of
luck indicator: PERA is actually a better indicator of next year’s ERA than
this year’s ERA is."

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