The Rule V draft took place two months ago, but it’s the next month that will decide the fate of most of the players selected. Most Rule V draft picks are returned to their original organization. Some fail to make their new team during spring training. Others make it, but their mandatory attendance on the roster becomes a hindrance at some point during the season and they are returned to their original team.
Regardless of when and why, the obstacles are are many and varied that impede the destiny of most Rule V picks.
But some have a chance. It’s early, but let’s look at which could stick this season and which should book their return flights home now and save everyone the trouble.
(Pick, drafting team, name, previous team)
1 Astros Josh Fields, rhp Red Sox
In the perfect Rule V storm, we have a terrible major league team drafting an older prospect coming off his best season. Not only should Fields make the Astros bullpen, but he could be their closer by the end of the season, which is both a testament to the talent of the former first-round pick and the lack of talent on the Astros roster.
2 Cubs Hector Rondon, rhp Indians
Only injuries could allow a 24-year-old pitcher with 106 innings of Triple-A experience and a 4:1 K:BB ratio in the minor leagues to be exposed to the Rule V draft, but that’s what happened to Rondon. If he had been drafted to a better team, he might not have a chance, but the Cubs have little to lose. He’s a good candidate to make their roster this spring; whether he makes it through the season will depend solely on how he performs.
3 Rockies Danny Rosenbaum, lhp Nationals
If he makes the Rockies roster this spring, it will be solely because of his Rule V status. The former Nationals lefty doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff, which makes Coors Field a poor fit for him as it is. He’s never pitched above Double-A and he’s never been a regular reliever, making it a doubly tough jump to the majors. He is left-handed, though, which could be his saving grace. Either way, it’s tough to see him making it through the season in the majors.
4 Twins Ryan Pressly, rhp Red Sox
Given his lack of strikeouts, he seems like a very Twins-esque pitcher, but even they have better options. Pressly has better stuff than his numbers would suggest, but without premium control, which he has never shown, he’ll continue to be a nondescript pitcher. His chances of sticking aren’t great.
5 Indians Chris Mcguiness , 1b Rangers
The Michael Bourn signing, which means more playing time at first base for Nick Swisher, makes things difficult on McGuiness. Mark Reynolds looks like the right-handed DH in Cleveland and needs a left-handed partner, which is a good fit for McGuiness, but Jason Giambi is also in camp. The decision for the Indians will likely come down to McGuiness’ potential versus Giambi’s veteran leadership.
6 Marlins Alfredo Silverio, of Dodgers
He has perhaps the highest ceiling of any Rule V draft pick, but Silverio is coming off Tommy John surgery last May. If he’s healthy, he could stick on the Marlins roster. After all, it’s not like they’re going to lose more games or fans by taking a risk on an unproven outfielder. The signing of Chone Figgins clouds things, however, and fourth outfielder Gorkys Hernandez is out of options, further crowding the Marlins bench.
*7 Red Sox (traded to Tigers) Jeff Kobernus, 2b Nationals
Kobernus could be one of the better candidates to stick with his new team, as the Tigers are looking for a right-handed complement in the outfield for Andy Dirks. Kobernus is a natural second baseman, but the Tigers are working with him in the outfield this spring, and if he takes to it well, his newfound versatility could be enough to earn him a spot on the major league roster.
*10 Mets (traded to Tigers) Kyle Lobstein, lhp Rays
Another Tigers possibility, it will come down to Lobstein and Duane Below for the role of second lefty/long-man in the Tigers bullpen. Lobstein was once a highly regarded prospect in the Rays farm system, but his stuff has diminished over the years. Still, he can compete with Below, who still has minor league options remaining, and if the two are close, Lobstein could get the nod, at least to begin the season.
14 Diamondbacks Starling Peralta, rhp Cubs
It’s been next to impossible to figure out what the Diamondbacks are thinking this offseason, but it’s difficult to imagine that even they could keep a 22-year-old right handed reliever who has yet to appear above Low-A ball on their major league roster. Of course, if he shows some grit this spring, all bets are off.
15 Phillies Ender Inciarte, of Diamondbacks
I love Inciarte’s game and think he’s a nice sleeper prospect to watch, but he would be completely overmatched at the plate in the majors, and the Phillies outfield situation is already too crowded to keep a defense-only option. They drafted him before they traded for Ben Revere, potentially as an emergency option in case they couldn’t land a center fielder, but it’s hard to imagine how he makes their roster this spring. He’s headed back to the Diamondbacks organization.
17 White Sox Angel Sanchez, ss Angels
Sanchez has more major league experience (628 major league plate appearances) than almost any Rule V pick you’ll see, but he was unable to stick on some pretty bad Astros teams in 2010-11. He can play a number of positions, but he has a career OPS below .700 in the minors. If he sticks with the White Sox—and he might—it should say a lot about the White Sox.
23 Orioles T.J. Mcfarland , lhp Indians
If the Orioles decide to try Brian Matusz as a starter again, then McFarland is in contention for the second lefty spot in the Orioles bullpen, but short of that, he’s a long-shot to stick in Baltimore. Of course, Camden Yards has become the place for players to resurrect their careers, so stranger things have happened.
24 Rangers Coty Woods, rhp Rockies
With Joakim Soria still on the mend, the Rangers have about a month to audition one more reliever than usual. Since they won’t want to lose him, Woods may get first crack at that spot, with the month of April to show that he can, at the very least, be a right-handed specialist.
1 Astros Nate Freiman, 1b Padres
The 6-foot-7 Freidman was a candidate to be the right-handed half of Carlos Pena‘s first base/DH platoon until the Astros traded for Chris Carter. Now the role of really big but limited slugger appears to be taken.
6 Marlins Braulio Lara , lhp Rays
Even for the Marlins, Lara is a stretch, having yet to appear above A-ball.
The best bets for sticking in the majors are Fields, Rondon, and the Tigers pair in Kobernus and Lobstein. McGuiness is probably as good a hitter as Giambi at this point in both of their careers, but there’s no underestimating the value new Indians manager Terry Francona will put on veteran leadership.
The spring is young, and Rule V picks are always a fun watch during the longest month of the baseball year, but this year’s crop is likely to have a lot of returns.