Cards 2011 Rule 5 Protection Lists by Level

Not all St. Louis Cardinals minor league players eligible for Major League Baseball's upcoming Rule 5 Draft are considered equal. We explain who and why.

This is the third in a series of articles focused on the St. Louis Cardinals and the 2011 Rule 5 Draft, to be held in Dallas on December 8 in conjunction with Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings.

The purpose of the Draft is to give eligible players the opportunity to further their career in another organization and of course, for the selecting clubs to better themselves. The current clubs look to protect players of future value to them so they are not lost.

Since Part One of this series, there have been several changes to the Cardinals' original 51-player eligibility pool. First, Palm Beach pitcher Arquimedes Nieto and Johnson City third baseman Hector Garcia were released. Starting pitcher Scott Gorgen, injured most of the season, is eligible, but was missed the first time.

In preparation for the Draft, the Cardinals added three players to their 40-man roster, exempting them from Rule 5 consideration. They are pitchers Adam Ottavino, Chuckie Fick and Sam Freeman.

After all the ins and outs, it leaves 47 players. The new news in this article is the level at which these players have been designated by the Cardinals.

This is an important factor, not understood by many, that determines which of these players might be most advantageously selected by another organization during the draft.

Major league phase

Only the players assigned to the Triple-A Memphis reserve list for protection will be eligible for the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. They can be taken at a cost of $50,000. If selected, those players would have to remain on the new club's 25-man major league roster the entire 2012 season or be offered back to the Cardinals at half the purchase price.

For 2011, 34 Rule 5-eligible players have been placed on Memphis' roster. 19 are pitchers, including two left-handers. 15 more are position players. In Part One, you can see at which level each of these players concluded their respective 2011 campaigns.

Memphis pitchers (19) Pos Memphis hitters (15) Pos
Additon, Nick  LHS   Castillo, Juan C
Blazek, Michael RHS   Cazana, Amaury OF
Broderick, Brian RHR   Curtis, Jermaine 3B
Castillo, Richard RHS   De La Cruz, Luis C
Castillo, Yunier RHR   Garcia, Jose IF
Fornataro, Eric RHS   Gil, Ronny SS
Gorgen, Scott RHS   Hill, Steven 1B
Hooker, Deryk RHS   Luna, Aaron OF
Kopp, David RHR   Medina, David 1B
Marte, Victor RHR   Pham, Tommy OF
McGregor, Scott RHS   Rosario, Rainel OF
Mijares, Jean LHR   Ruiz, Romulo  IF
Parise, Pete RHR   Scruggs, Xavier 1B
Rauschenberger, Cory RHR   Swauger, Chris OF
Rondon, Jorge RHS   Vasquez, Niko  SS
Russell, Zack RHS      
Samuel, Francisco RHR      
Thomas, Kevin RHS      
Todd, Jess RHR      

In terms of which of these players might be most appealing to another organization, it really depends upon the need those clubs are trying to fill and how the Cardinals eligible players fared in their scouting reports. In Part Two of this series, I outlined the players that I thought were most likely to be protected by the Cardinals.

They are the same ones I would consider most at risk to be taken by another club: reliever David Kopp, outfielder Tommy Pham, second baseman Jose Garcia and outfielder Aaron Luna. Kopp finished 2011 in the Arizona Fall League after ending the regular season with Memphis. The other three closed out 2011 with Springfield.

Two other players were with Palm Beach, making their appeal to fill a major league berth in 2012 unlikely. They are starting pitcher Eric Fornataro and outfielder Rainel Rosario.

Realistically, no Cardinals may be lost in the major league phase of this year's Rule 5, but if anyone goes, I think it would be Kopp.

Minor league phase

The Cardinals could not place all their Rule 5-eligible players at Memphis. Therefore, some of those players will be eligible to be taken in the minor league phase of the Rule 5. Due to less-restrictive rules for players rostered below Triple-A, any players taken would likely not return in 2012.

The other 13 Rule 5-eligible Cardinals farmhands have been placed on the Double-A Springfield roster for purposes of this Draft. Six are pitchers with seven position players. The latter group consists of five catchers and two shortstops.

Springfield pitchers (6) Pos Springfield hitters (7) Pos
Avendano, Javier RHR   Bolivar, Domnit  SS
Corpas, Hector RHS   Cutler, Charlie C
Delgado, Ramon RHR   Derba, Nick C
Mulligan, Casey RHR   Espinoza, Roberto C
Pasen, Jose RHR   Montero, Jesus C
Rada, Jose RHS   Obregon, Ted SS
  Teran, Kleininger   C

These players would cost less for another organization to select, specifically $12,000. Most importantly, these 13 players would not have to be added to the major league roster if taken in the Rule 5, nor would they be required to be returned to the Cardinals regardless of the level at which they are assigned by the selecting organization in 2012.

Again, if any of the 13 Springfield-designated players are taken in the Draft, chances are good that they are not coming back.

Of the eligible position players, catcher Charlie Cutler might be most appealing. The 25-year-old posted a very nice line of .333/.398/.475/.874 for Double-A Springfield.

Right-hander Javier Avendano has yet to pitch in full-season ball, but just turned 21. The career ERA of our GCL Cards Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2010 is 2.01 and he has 182 strikeouts in 179 professional innings. The downside is that his season ended in early July with a shoulder injury and his readiness for 2012 is unclear.

Ramon Delgado is another interesting hurler with injury questions. The 25-year-old right-hander missed almost the entire season with Springfield. Delgado posted a 1.37 ERA in relief in 2010 before being selected to pitch in the Arizona Fall League.

Jose Rada has shown promise as a reliever at times, but struggled to a 6.75 ERA in 32 games with Springfield this past season.

Reliever Casey Mulligan remains on the restricted list after informing the organization of his intent to retire, but technically remains eligible to be selected by another organization.

Previous articles in this series:
"Cardinals in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft: Part One"
"Cardinals in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft: Part Two"

In future installments, we will look potential targets of the Cardinals in this Rule 5 Draft, plus the organization's past history in Rule 5 Drafts, in the major and minor league phases, both as a supplier and selector of players. Of course, on draft day, we will then break down any Rule 5 activity that affects the Cardinals.

Remember that to see the entire Cardinals system in one graphical view, check out the Roster Matrix, kept updated at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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