Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Rule 5 Draft Primer and 2014 Astros Eligible Players

I wasn't planning on doing a post about the Rule 5 draft until sometime in August, but the fiancée and sister of a certain Astros pitcher started DM-ing me on Saturday, peppering me with questions about how the process works. I will likely expand on my thoughts about who will be protected closer to the deadline, but here is a primer based on my understanding of how the Rule 5 draft works, as well as some preliminary information about this year's draft eligible players. The draft will be held on December 11th in San Diego, California at the conclusion of the Baseball Winter Meetings.


The Rule 5 draft (don't call it the Rule V draft or baseball purists will jump down your throat) has both a major league phase and minor league phases which I'll cover later, but first things first ... eligibility. Those players who are eligible this year are as follows:

[That is directly from the 2008 Major League Rules which can be found here. If it has changed since then, I haven't seen that information.]

What that means in English is that eligible players basically include: 1) any player who signed prior to the end of the 2010 season; and 2) players who signed after the end of the 2010 season and prior to the end of the 2011 season who were 19 years old or older when they signed. That means most 2011 drafted college players are eligible, but high school players (and some community college players) drafted in 2011 are not eligible until next year. For the international free agents, you need to know when they signed their first professional agreement and their age at signing to make the determination. There are exceptions, but that is the basic gist of it.


The first phase of the Rule 5 draft is the major league phase. In order to protect an eligible player from being drafted in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft, they must be on the major league club's 40-man roster prior to November 20th (if that falls on a business day). Players on the 40-man roster at that deadline are considered "protected."

Obviously not all of a team's best players can be protected on the 40-man roster. That is where the 38-man AAA Reserve List helps. If a player from the AAA Reserve List is drafted in the Rule 5 draft, that player must remain on the drafting team's 25-man major league roster for the full season or he will have to be put through waivers. If claimed, the new team will be subject to the same conditions regarding that player. If not claimed, the player will be offered back to the team from which they were drafted.

The cost of drafting a player in the major league phase of the draft is $50,000. If the player is offered back to the team from which he was drafted, the original team must pay $25,000 back to the drafting team. If the original team declines, the player will be put on waivers.

Last season Asher Wojciechowski, Luis Cruz, Jon Singleton and Domingo Santana were all added to the 40-man roster in advance of the deadline. The front office made the determination that these four players were the most likely players to be taken in the Rule 5 draft. Presumably, the front office took a calculated risk by not adding players such as Jake Buchanan and others to the 40-man roster, but only included them on the AAA Reserve List. They made a determination as to which players, if drafted, were more likely to "stick" on a major league roster for a full season.

Since players taken in the Rule 5 draft have to remain on the drafting team's 25-man roster for the full season, pitchers are taken much more frequently than position players simply because it's fairly easy to use a pitcher sparingly out of the bullpen. Position players can't be tucked away quite so neatly if they struggle. It all comes down to another team's ability to find room on their 25-man roster for a full season. It's simply not that easy to do and that's why so very few players are drafted in the Rule 5 draft and stick with a team.

It's also the case that often minor league fans overvalue prospects. We may think much more highly of a player than the other teams' front offices do. When all is said and done, the Astros front office will take some risks in leaving players unprotected, but it will be a highly educated guess based on many factors.


There are two minor league phases of the Rule 5 draft as well. The players on the 40-man roster and the 38 players on the AAA reserve list aren't eligible to be taken in the minor league phases of the draft. So, in essence, you are protecting your top 78 players from the minor league phases. (As far as I know, AAA Reserve Lists are not made public so we are left to guess who the Astros will be shielding from the minor league phases of the draft.)

In the AAA Phase of the draft, a player who is on the AA Reserve List or lower can be drafted for inclusion on the drafting team's AAA Reserve list for a cost of $12,000. In the AA Phase of the draft, players at all of the levels lower than AA can be drafted for inclusion on the drafting team's AA Reserve List for a cost of $4,000.

The kicker on the minor league phase of the draft is that the drafted player basically becomes that team's property. There is no requirement to offer the player back if he doesn't work out. He can be traded, released, etc. at a team's discretion. In the minor league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 draft, the Astros drafted OF Ravel Santana who was released recently, LHP Blaine Sims who is currently pitching for Quad Cities, and LHP Carlos Vazquez who was outrighted to the Mexican League in January. The Astros, in turn, lost RHP Enderson Franco who is currently pitching for the Tampa Bay short season team in the New York-Penn League.


As best I can figure, the following are those players who will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December if they are left unprotected. (I may be missing a couple of international free agents as I don't have information on the actual signing date of a couple of those.) I have organized them by the level at which they are currently playing. Players who were listed by Baseball America as top prospects prior to the season have been *'d. Obviously, there will be some tough choices ahead and I will re-visit the topic closer to the November 20th deadline.

AAA Position Players
3B Matt Duffy
C Ryan McCurdy
IF Jio Mier
C Carlos Perez
SS Gregorio Petit
*2B Ronald Torreyes
OF Austin Wates

AAA Pitchers
RHP Jorge de Leon
*RHP Mike Foltynewicz
RHP Richard Rodriguez
RHP Ross Seaton (DL)
LHP Tommy Shirley
IF/OF Ruben Sosa
RHP Jason Stoffel
*RHP Nick Tropeano
LHP Patrick Urckfitz

AA Position Players
*OF Delino DeShields
C Rene Garcia
1B/OF Brandon Meredith
3B Jonathan Meyer
1B Telvin Nash
IF Carlos Perdomo

AA Pitchers
RHP R.J. Alaniz
LHP Colton Cain
RHP Chris Devenski
LHP Mitch Lambson
RHP Tyson Perez
LHP David Rollins

Position Players at High A or lower
1B Bobby Borchering (DL)
2B Jose Fernandez
C Alfredo Gonzalez
OF Ydarqui Marte
1B Yonathan Mejia
SS Chan Moon
C Jobduan Morales
OF Ariel Ovando
C Roberto Pena
OF Jordan Scott
OF Jose Solano
*OF Danry Vasquez

Pitchers at High A or lower
RHP Jamaine Cotton
*RHP Michael Feliz
RHP Edison Frias
LHP Evan Grills
*LHP Reymin Guduan
*RHP Jandel Gustave
RHP Matt Heidenreich
RHP Angel Heredia
RHP Krishawn Holley
RHP Juan Minaya
RHP Jose Montero
RHP Luis Ordosgoitti
RHP Francis Ramirez
RHP Raul Rivera
*RHP Gonzalo Sanudo
LHP Blaine Sims
RHP Frederick Tiburcio
*RHP Vincent Velasquez
RHP Andrew Walter

LHP Ambiorix de Leon
RHP Jonas Dufek
RHP Murilo Gouvea
RHP Kyle Weiland (Rehab Assignment)

Here is some basic information from MLB about the Rule 5 draft.

Thank you to Virginia and Lindsey for helping me get my bootie in gear to write this up!


  1. Domingo Santana WAS added to the 40-man roster before the deadline in November. 14 of these players are eligible to become free agents after this season. If they stay with the organization, or sign with another organization, they would be vulnerable to the Rule 5. Royal Worm

    1. Thanks! I've corrected that. I sometimes succumb to FMD (Feeble Memory Disorder).

  2. My guess is that Mike Foltynewicz, Nick Tropeano, Michael Feliz and Vincent Velasquez will need to be protected.

  3. JJ Cooper of BA just wrote this article about the astros 40 man delema

    1. http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/ask-ba-astros-facing-offseason-40-man-crunch/

      Sorry forgot the article haha