The Rule 5 Draft pick; worthy of a Major League roster spot, or stunting the growth of a quality prospect?
Over the last few years, Baltimore Orioles fans have been up close and personal with the Rule 5 Draft pick. But what is a Rule 5 Draft pick, and is it worth all the fuss necessary to draft and/or keep on?
The first thing is understanding what the Rule 5 Draft is about.
“A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team from which he was selected for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player. Once a player is selected, he is automatically assigned to his new organization’s 40-man roster.” (FAQ MLB.com)
A player who is 19 and completed four years of service time or a player who is 18 and completed five years of service time and not on the active 40-man roster are eligible to be drafted by another team. This rule was designed to help balance the competition in baseball, making younger players who might play in the majors for another team be drafted to play instead of other teams stock piling top picks, like the Yankees and Dodgers have done for years.
Few people are aware that Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente or former dominating pitcher Johan Santana were both Rule 5 Draft picks, but there are many others who showed glimpses of talent that never panned out properly. Dan Uggla, who went from a fierce hitter to someone who couldn’t hit a beach ball with a tennis racket, is an example.
Former Orioles GM Dan Duquette used the Rule 5 Draft to find the likes of Ryan Flaherty, Joey Rickard, TJ McFarland, and our very own Anthony Santander, who is our current starting right fielder and has become a pretty consistent hitter for the Birds.
Former Rule 5 picks include utility man José Bautista (no need to say more), durable outfielder Jay Gibbons, and beloved bullpen coach and former player, Elrod Hendricks, who was with our organization for 37 years (a club record that includes 11 seasons as a player).
Perhaps the most successful Rule 5 player for Baltimore was our very own Paul Blair, who became a four-time World Series Champion (two with Baltimore), a two-time All-Star, and an eight-time Gold Glover Award winner.
All this leads to the question; is it worth it? With the likes of Tyler Wells (who might be a diamond in the rough) and Mac Sceroler, the debate continues to go onward.
Personally for this fan, I find the Rule 5 Draft a way to stunt development and education in growth, but it also prevents teams from building quality depth for a Minor League system that is supposed to help keep teams competitive for years to come. I might be wrong here, but the negatives and stunted development of most players seems to carry the weight of negatives over the positive.
What’s your opinion on the Rule 5 Draft? Do you think it’s beneficial? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on the web and on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Spotify! And make sure to use the hashtag #thebaltimorebattery when sharing our content to show your Birdland swag!