The Great Rule V Experiment
In December, San Diego Padres General Manager A.J. Preller took advantage of the ease of drafting players via the Rule 5 draft system. He acquired four players that day, two by trade, two for the minimal investment of $50,000 per player. Thus began the Great Rule 5 Experiment.
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I’ll confess that I didn’t know a lot about the Rule 5 draft prior to this year. In the past, the occasional Rule 5 guy would show up, then typically be gone within a month, usually never to be heard from again. So when A.J. Preller signed four players, I had to do some research.
Drafting Rule 5 players is a bit like playing the lottery. You spend a couple of bucks, hoping for something big, but the vast majority of the time you end up with nothing.
Jandel Gustave, Patrick Schuster, George Kontos, Luis Perdomo (the other Luis Perdomo), Carlos Guevara, Michael Gardner, Callix Crabbe (and his career slash line of .176/.282/.206, compiled during his 34 AB stint with the Padres in 2008), Gabe DeHoyos, Kurt Isenberg. I could go on. But why name a bunch of guys you never heard of? These are the previous Rule 5 guys the Padres have picked up over the last few years.
By far the most successful Rule 5 draftee the Padres have had in the last ten years is Everth Cabrera. Drafted from the Rockies prior to the 2009 season, Cabrera surprised everyone by grabbing the starting shortstop position and hitting .255 with 25 steals, earning an 8th-place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. Cabrera faltered for a couple of years, but then came back to lead the league in stolen bases three years later.
One of the more famous Rule 5 guys was Shane Victorino, taken by the Padres from the Dodgers, in the 2002 draft, when he was 22 years old. After hitting .151 in a month-and-a-half on the Padres roster, he was returned to LA, where he played in the minors for another two seasons. With the additional seasoning in the minors, Victorino went on to be one of the better center fielders in the National League, and has won World Series rings with the Phillies and Red Sox.
That’s the thing about these players. The reason they’re in the minor leagues, the reason they’re not protected by their teams, is that they’re typically not ready for the majors, may never be major league material, and if they do have the potential, they’re still likely several years away from being productive. That’s very likely the case with this year’s crop as well.
In fact, two of the players from this past December’s draft are already gone. Pitcher Blake Smith didn’t last long enough for me to remember his name without looking it up. And Josh Martin, although he has good enough stuff to record 12 strikeouts in eight innings during his Spring Training innings, wasn’t polished enough for the Pads to consider keeping him on the roster for a full season. So we’re already down to two. But these two have enough potential to be pretty exciting.
Next: Luis Perdomo Profile