The Rule 5 Draft Rules
Any player not on a team's 40-man roster who signed his first professional contract in 2007 or earlier who was at least 19 years old at the time he signed and any player who signed his first professional contract in 2006 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. Teams generally set their rosters in advance of the 40-man roster in late November. There is a minor league portion of the draft, but determining what players are exposed to that draft is tricky because it involves knowing whether players have been placed on a Triple-A or Double-A roster during the post-season, information that is usually kept secret by most organizations, so we won't address that part of the draft in this article. As of November 18, the A's have five open slots on their 40-man roster.
Below we highlight some of the players who could be exposed to the Rule 5 draft this year and divide them up into three categories: likely to be protected, in the conversation to be protected and other names of note.
Likely To Be Protected
Michael Taylor: Taylor's first season in the A's organization was a disappointment, but one mediocre year doesn't negate his overall talent and he would undoubtedly be snapped up in a Rule 5 draft. The Stanford alum was drafted by the Phillies in 2007 and with the exception of his first half season in '07, Taylor has never posted an average lower than this year's .272 mark and his OPS has been higher than 900 in 2008 and 2009. He is currently batting .286/.400/.419 in the Arizona Fall League.
Corey Brown: Brown was the A's supplemental first-round pick in 2007 out of Oklahoma State. The centerfielder has consistently put up good power/speed numbers while also compiling impressive on-base percentages since he signed. Brown has had some knee and hand injuries during his career, but he has managed to play through most of them. He got off to a rough start with Triple-A Sacramento this season, but he redeemed himself in Double-A by posting a 916 OPS and hit well upon his return to Triple-A for the final week of the season.
Trystan Magnuson: Acquired on Wednesday in the Rajai Davis trade, Magnuson's name was being bandied about as a possible member of the Blue Jays' 2011 bullpen before the deal. Near-major league ready relievers are always popular in the Rule 5 and a reliever who stands 6'7'' with a good fastball and plus-command would be almost certainly claimed.
Adrian Cardenas: Like Brown, Cardenas had a schizophrenic season, as he struggled early in the year at Triple-A but shined in Double-A. Also like Brown, Cardenas looked better at the plate during his second turn through Triple-A at the end of the season. Although Cardenas has yet to develop the power many thought he would when he was drafted by the Phillies out of high school in the supplemental first round of the 2006 draft, he has a career average of .300 and just turned 23 in October. No doubt a team would take a flier on him if he was left unprotected.
In The Conversation
Sean Doolittle: In April 2009, Doolittle was seemingly weeks away from making his major league debut. He injured his knee in early May, however, and hasn't been on the field since, as he has struggled through a series of rehabs and a patella surgery. The A's second pick in 2007 out of Virginia is still rehabbing, so his status for the 2011 season remains up in the air, but the A's are optimistic he will be able to play. Assuming he is healthy, it remains to be seen whether Doolittle will be able to play in the outfield or will be limited to first base. However, even if he is limited to first base, he is still an attractive prospect there, as he has good power and an above-average glove at the position. An interested team could take Doolittle and stash him on the DL with minor league rehab assignments for much of the season, which might make him an even more attractive Rule 5 pick.
James Simmons: Like Doolittle, Simmons is coming off of a season lost to injury. The A's top pick in 2007 was making excellent progress towards the major leagues when he ran into some shoulder soreness in 2009. He pitched through it, but not effectively, posting a 5.72 ERA in 119 innings for Sacramento. Simmons was never healthy in 2010 and wound-up having a clean-out of his pitching shoulder. When healthy, Simmons is a solid back-of-the-rotation pitching prospect and a team devoid of pitching talent could take a flier on Simmons and stash him on the DL with minor league rehab assignments before making a final decision on whether or not to keep him.
Andrew Carignan: Another member of the A's 2007 draft class, Carignan, like Doolittle and Simmons, has struggled with injuries. His injury came in 2009 in the form of elbow soreness. Carignan was mostly healthy in 2010, although he spent much of the year trying to regain a consistent release point. That showed in his numbers with High-A Stockton, for whom he posted an uncharacteristically high 6.27 ERA and walked 9.27 batters per nine innings pitched. He did strike out 12 per nine innings, however, and he was outstanding during the A's recent Instructional League camp. Carignan was considered a possible future closer before the elbow trouble and if a team saw him throwing well in Arizona, he might be snapped up.
Travis Banwart: Banwart, a 2007 fourth-round pick of the A's, is currently participating in the Arizona Fall League after putting together a solid season for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. In six AFL starts, Banwart has a 3.86 ERA and a 17:7 K:BB ratio. The right-hander isn't a big name prospect, but he has a polished starter's repertoire and had an uptick in velocity this year, with his fastball sitting regularly in the low-90s and even touching 95 on occasion.
Brad Kilby: Kilby was on the A's 40-man roster throughout the 2010 season and pitched well in a short stint with the team early in the season. However, he developed shoulder soreness in late May while with Triple-A Sacramento and wound-up missing the rest of the season. Kilby, who had surgery to fix a slight tear in his rotator cuff during the season, was removed from the A's 40-man roster and cleared waivers earlier this off-season. He told OaklandClubhouse.com last week that his rehab was going very well and that he anticipated being ready for the start of spring training. Good left-handed relievers are hard to find and Kilby sports a 1.07 ERA and an 0.83 WHIP in 25.1 major league innings. If a team is paying attention to his rehab, they may make him a target. For that reason, the A's could add him back onto the roster before the Rule 5.
Other Names To Note:
Corey Wimberly: Mr. "Can-Do Everything" has been eligible for the Rule 5 draft the past couple of seasons and has gone unclaimed. Wimberly, a 2005 sixth-round pick by Colorado, hit .284 with a .373 OBP and 56 stolen bases in his first Triple-A season in 2010. The speedster can play the middle infield and all outfield positions, making him an intriguing candidate for a major league bench role. He is currently playing in Mexico, where he is hitting .266 with a .361 OBP for Culican.
Josh Horton: Horton was the A's second-round pick in 2007. He has seen other middle infield prospects such as Cardenas move past him on the A's depth chart, although he may have played his way back onto the A's prospect radar in 2010. Horton began the year in extended spring training after off-season shoulder surgery, but he still managed to play in 116 games. He hit .298 with a career-best .400 SLG for High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. Horton's approach at the plate has always been excellent and that continued in 2010 with 42 walks against 55 strike-outs. He also showed vast improvement with the glove at shortstop. Horton is currently batting .459/.500/.514 in 37 at-bats in Mexico for Obregon.
Carlos Hernandez: Hernandez has been a workhorse since being selected as a draft-and-follow by the A's in 2006 out of a high school in Santa Clara. Signed in 2007, Hernandez has moved steadily up the A's chain and is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League. The southpaw doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he has a good breaking ball and isn't afraid to challenge hitters. He is considered one of the top competitors in the A's system. Hernandez has pitched in relief at the AFL. He struggled early and was shut down with a case of tired arm, but has recently returned and has thrown 1.2 scoreless innings in two outings. He has been a starter for much of his career, but profiles in the big leagues as a reliever.
Anthony Recker: Like Wimberly, Recker has been available in the Rule 5 draft each of the past two seasons. The A's 2005 18th round pick spent much of the 2010 season with Triple-A Sacramento and he played well for the River Cats, posting a .288/.341/.496 line in 80 games. Recker has always had good power and he has improved his defense behind the plate dramatically over the years. He is blocked in the A's system by Kurt Suzuki, Landon Powell and Josh Donaldson and will be a six-year minor league free agent after this upcoming season.
Matt Sulentic: The A's second pick in 2006 out of a Dallas high school is Rule 5-eligible for the first time. Sulentic has had an up-and-down pro career. After a huge debut in 2006, Sulentic struggled in 2007 before rebounding to put together solid seasons in 2008 and 2009. He struggled again in 2010 for much of the season. Although he finished with a .275 average for Double-A Midland, Sulentic managed only a .336 SLG, down from .481 in 2008 and .414 in 2009. He has become a solid defensive outfielder, but he is limited to the corners, so those power numbers will likely scare off teams.
Jeff Baisley: Baisley, like Recker, was a 2005 selection by the A's. Once one of the A's top prospects, Baisley played for Oakland during the final months of the 2008 season, but he was removed from the 40-man roster that following spring and struggled in 2009. After beginning 2010 in extended spring training rehabbing an injury, Baisley played well for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. In 100 games, he hit .301 with an 845 OPS. He has had to deal with leg injuries for much of his minor league career, but, when healthy, Baisley has generally been productive.
Matt Carson: Carson was removed from the A's 40-man roster and then re-signed to a minor league deal this off-season. The outfielder was a career minor leaguer before signing with the A's in 2009. Since then, he has appeared in 46 major league games. He hasn't hit much at the major league level, but he has posted OPSs of 841 and 930 the past two seasons at Triple-A. Carson has decent power, some speed and can play all three outfield positions well.
Jared Lansford: Lansford, a 2005 second-round pick out of a South Bay high school, was eligible for the Rule 5 last season but went unclaimed. Lansford has pitched well at the Double-A level the past two seasons, but has struggled at Triple-A. He has also had control problems the past two years, something he has been able to work-around in Double-A thanks to his high groundball rate, but has hurt him against more advanced hitters.
Graham Godfrey: Godfrey was a 2006 draft selection of the Toronto Blue Jays out of the College of Charleston. Passed over in the 2009 Rule 5 draft after an All-Star season with Double-A Midland, Godfrey struggled at Triple-A in 2010. He had a 5.59 ERA and a mediocre 87:53 K:BB ratio in 106.1 innings for the River Cats. Godfrey is currently pitching well in Puerto Rico, posting a 1.03 ERA in five starts with 16 strike-outs against seven walks.
Justin Friend: Friend was a member of the A's 2007 draft class out of Oklahoma State. The Tracy native spent all of the 2010 season with Double-A Midland. In 36 appearances, all but one in relief, Friend had a 3.70 ERA and 50 strike-outs against 38 walks in 56 innings. He had a stint on the DL with elbow soreness mid-season. Friend has an excellent slider and gets good sink on his fastball, but his control could stand to improve.
Jermaine Mitchell: Once thought to be a steal as a fifth-round pick in 2006, Mitchell's career stalled at the High-A level until 2010. The speedy outfielder spent two-plus seasons in Stockton before finally earning a promotion to Double-A for part of the 2010 season. Mitchell played well for Stockton (.309/.413/.523 in 78 games), but he struggled for Midland (.223/.331/.298 in 37 games). He has always had intriguing talent and a good approach at the plate, but he hasn't been able to put together a solid all-around season since 2007.
Julio Ramos: Signed as an international free agent in 2006, Ramos was one of the A's brightest young pitching prospects at the start of the season. The left-hander had a 2.57 ERA in 84 innings for short-season Vancouver and High-A Stockton as a 21-year-old in 2009. He never got on the field in 2010, however, as elbow soreness sidelined him and he eventually had Tommy John surgery. He is likely to miss most, if not all, of the 2011 season, making him an unlikely Rule 5 selection given than he hasn't pitched above the High-A level yet and has a long rehab ahead of him.
Justin Souza: Souza was one the A's 40-man roster throughout the 2010 season, but, like Kilby, was removed during the off-season. Acquired from Seattle in 2009 and then protected from the Rule 5 draft before the 2010 season, Souza has a mid-90s fastball and strike-out stuff from the bullpen. However, he suffered a stress fracture in his elbow at the end of the 2010 season and is currently rehabbing the injury.