Oakland A's Rule 5 Draft Preview

On Thursday morning, Major League Baseball will host its annual Rule 5 draft as part of baseball's Winter Meetings. Inside, we briefly profile some of the notable Oakland A's prospects who will be eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft and highlight a few players who might be targeted by the A's should they decide to make a selection.

The Rule 5 Draft Rules
Any player not on a team's 40-man roster who signed his first professional contract in 2004 or earlier who was at least 19 years old at the time he signed and any player who signed his first professional contract in 2003 or earlier who was at least 18 years or younger at the time he signed is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December. Teams select in draft order until all teams have declined to select players. Once a player is selected from an organization, that organization can pull back another eligible player to be protected. Teams that select a player must keep that player on their 25-man roster for the entire regular season or offer him back to his original team.


Notable A's Minor Leaguers Eligible for Rule 5 Draft

* Note that all of the minor league free agents that the A's have signed to minor league contracts this off-season are eligible for the Rule 5.

2004 Draft Class
Blasi had a breakout season and moved-up two levels.
Nick Blasi: Batted .302 in breakthrough campaign. Saw time in Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A. Won PCL playoff MVP trophy with the River Cats. Can play all three outfield positions.

Chad Boyd: Batted .270 with eight homers and nine stolen bases for High-A Stockton. Outfielder will be 23 next season.

Scot Drucker: Posted 4.86 ERA in 113 innings for High-A Stockton in 2006. Missed 2007 season after shoulder surgery.

Tom Everidge: Cal League leader in homeruns (26). Hit .258 with an 823 OPS for High-A Stockton and .361 in 10 games with Double-A Midland.

Myron Leslie: Switch-hitter batted .288 with 790 OPS for Double-A Midland. Can play corner OF, third, first and some short.

Haas Pratt: Batted .223 with 10 homers and a 713 OPS for Low-A Kane County.

Connor Robertson: Made major league debut in 2007. Allowed four runs in two innings for Oakland. Went 5-1 with 4.24 ERA in 40.1 innings for Triple-A Sacramento. Missed time with broken thumb.

Michael Rogers: 2004 second round pick posted an 8.49 ERA in 89 innings between Double-A Midland and Single-A Stockton.

Rob Semerano: Posted 6.04 ERA in 15 games before being shut-down with an injury.

Steve Sharpe: Had a 2.89 ERA and nine saves in 26 games for Double-A Midland before undergoing elbow surgery mid-season.

Jason Windsor: Right-hander won 17 minor league games in 2006 and threw 13.2 innings at the major league level that year. Underwent shoulder surgery mid-season 2007.

2003 Draft Class
Appert finally made it to Double-A after three-plus seasons in Single-A.
Luke Appert: Batted .304 with .424 OBP in 125 games split between High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. A second baseman converted into an outfielder.

David Castillo: Catcher hit .213 in season split between all four of A's full-season affiliates.

Eddie Cornejo: Batted .286 with a 706 OPS in 67 games between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. Can play second, short and third base.

James Heuser: Left-hander went 11-8 with 4.12 ERA in 155 innings for Low-A Kane County.

Mike Mitchell: Hard-throwing reliever spent most of season on DL with shoulder injury. Had surgery on a torn labrum mid-season. Can throw in the mid-90s when healthy.

Brian Snyder: 2003 first round pick batted .254 with a .379 OBP and a 787 OPS for Double-A Midland.

Trent Peterson: Posted 4.31 ERA in 135.2 innings between High-A Stockton and Double-Midland. Left-handed pitcher.

Vasili Spanos: Corner infielder batted .276 with 10 homers and a 757 OPS in 100 games for Double-A Midland.

2002 Draft Class:
Brown had a strong offensive season.
Jeremy Brown: Former A's first rounder was on 40-man roster for the past three off-seasons. Spent season in Triple-A, batting .276 with 14 homers and an 833 OPS. Has improved his defense over the past two seasons.

Brant Colamarino: Hit .241 with nine homers and 696 OPS in 101 games for Double-A Midland. First baseman played for Triple-A Sacramento in PCL Championship series and hit well.

Ben Fritz: 2002 first round pick went 11-11 with 5.67 ERA in 149.1 innings for Double-A Midland. Currently has 4.40 ERA in 30.2 innings for Caracas of the VWL.

Brad Knox: Went 10-7 with 4.40 ERA in 163.2 innings for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. Right-hander currently has 3.63 ERA in 44.2 innings for Caracas of the VWL.

Shawn Kohn: Posted 5.11 ERA as a reliever for Triple-A Sacramento and Double-A Midland. Struck out 93 in 86.1 innings. Extreme finesse pitcher.

Shane Komine: Went 5-12 with a 4.87 ERA in 133 innings as starter for Triple-A Sacramento. Made two appearances for Oakland, allowing four runs in 7.2 innings. Has made two starts in the big leagues, both in 2006.

Jed Morris: Beat cancer after being diagnosed with the disease in August 2006. Began the year at extended spring training, but only appeared in two games after battling a variety of injuries. Plays catcher and can play some first base.

Brian Stavisky: Missed majority of season with torn hand ligament. Outfielder hit .260 with 764 OPS in 28 games for Triple-A Sacramento and High-A Stockton.

Minor League FA/International FA/Trade
Cramer burst onto the scene after being out of baseball since 2005.
Danny Borrell: Joined Oakland as minor league free agent during season and re-signed this off-season. Left-handed swingman posted 2.80 ERA in 64.1 innings for Double-A Midland. Held opposing batters to .185 BAA.

Bobby Cramer: Signed as a minor league free agent during season. Left-hander went 9-2 with 2.77 ERA in 97.1 innings between High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. Pitched for Triple-A Sacramento in post-season.

Brad Halsey: After spending majority of 2006 season in the majors, began 2007 season in Triple-A. Missed all but three starts due to shoulder injury. Left-hander has been a starter and reliever in majors.

Frank Martinez: Switch-hitting infielder batted .267 with 12 homers, 14 stolen bases and a 739 OPS for High-A Stockton. Turned 22 in July.

Raul Padron: Left-handed hitting catcher hit .223 with 13 homers in 96 games for High-A Stockton. Batted .320 with an 864 OPS at the Arizona Fall League and currently has two hits in four at-bats for Caracas of the VWL. Can also play first base and will be 23 for most of next season.

David Shafer: Acquired for Kirk Saarloos last off-season. Reliever had 7.79 ERA in 34.2 innings for Triple-A Sacramento and 2.28 ERA in 23.2 innings for Double-A Midland.

Andy Shipman: 2006 minor league Rule 5 acquisition by A's. Posted 5.81 ERA in 117.2 innings for Double-A Midland.

Alexander Valdez: Switch-hitting infielder batted .264 with 10 homers and 60 RBI in 111 games for Low-A Kane County. Will be 23 for most of next season.

Brad Ziegler: Submarine reliever went 12-3 with 2.41 ERA in 78.1 innings for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. Held right-handed hitters to .176 BAA in Triple-A.



Possible Oakland A's Rule 5 Targets
Randor Bierd has a live arm.
The A's have one open spot on their 40-man roster. Last season, Oakland took two players in the Rule 5 draft: outfielder Ryan Goleski and left-handed reliever Jay Marshall. Goleski was returned to the Cleveland Indians after a poor spring training. Marshall made the club out of spring training and spent the entire year on the 25-man roster before being put on waivers in October. He was claimed by the Boston Red Sox.

It isn't entirely certain what the A's needs will be going into spring training, as they are likely to make a few trades and signings over the next couple of weeks. Last season's Rule 5 picks didn't net much return for Oakland, and it seems something of a longshot that the team will be a participant in the Rule 5 again the season. Nevertheless, the A's weren't expected to select any players in the Rule 5 last year, and they took two, so you never know.

Below are a few Rule 5-draft eligible players who might be of interest to the A's should they decide to be players on Thursday:

Randor Bierd, RP: Bierd is a hard-throwing reliever in the Detroit Tigers chain. The Dominican native is two years removed from Tommy John surgery. He posted a 3.32 ERA in 45 innings at Double-A in 2007 and he had 52 strike outs. Bierd will turn 24 in March. He has averaged a bit more than a strike out per inning throughout his career and has walked only 64 in 239.1 innings. The A's have a number of hard-throwing right-handed relievers on their 40-man roster who will be competing for spots in the Oakland bullpen (Andrew Brown, Santiago Casilla, Jeff Gray), but Bierd would give the A's another option in that competition. If Oakland non-tenders Kiko Calero later this month, there may be even more of a glaring need for someone of Bierd's skills.

Brian Barton is recovering from knee surgery.
Carlos Guevara, RP: For the same reasons Bierd might pique the interest of the A's, Guevara could be a target. The right-hander was a seventh round selection by Cincinnati in 2003. He has been a career reliever and he has a 2.91 ERA in 297.2 innings. Guevara is a strike out machine, with 384 during his minor league career. He has a screwball which is his out pitch, although the rest of his stuff is relatively average.

Enrique Gonzalez, P: Gonzalez has been inconsistent throughout his career, but he did have a 22-inning scoreless streak in the major leagues in 2006 and he currently has a 3.12 ERA in 17.1 innings for La Guaira of the VWL. Gonzalez spent most of last season in Triple-A, where he had a 5.15 ERA in 27 starts. The A's would probably see Gonzalez more as a reliever than a starter.

Kyle Aselton, P: The A's are short on left-handed pitching in the upper-tiers of the minor leagues. Aselton is a tall (6'5''), rangy lefty who throws in the low-90s. He was only at High-A last season, but so was Marshall in 2006, and that didn't stop Oakland from taking Marshall. Aselton struck out 81 in 71.1 innings last season and held lefties to a .167 BAA.

Brian Barton, OF: Barton [no relation to the A's prospect Daric] is coming off of serious knee surgery or he probably would have been protected by the Cleveland Indians this winter. Barton has a career .416 OBP, making him an Oakland A's type of player. He doesn't have much power for an outfielder, but when healthy he has good speed and he could make a nice fourth outfielder/pinch-hitter. Barton's injury could work in the A's advantage, as they may be able to keep him on the DL to start the season and then send him to the minor leagues on an extended rehab assignment and get a better sense if they want to keep him all season.


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