Cards 2012 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 article looks ahead to the St. Louis Cardinals and their potential role as a supplier of players to the 2012 Rule 5 Draft, to be held in Nashville on December 6 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.

Generally speaking, players who were 19 or older when they signed and have been in the organization for four years become Rule 5-eligible. Same with those players who signed at the age of 18 or younger and have been in the organization five years. There are unique cases as well.

In preparation for the Draft, the Cardinals added five players to their 40-man roster, exempting them from Rule 5 consideration. They are pitchers Michael Blazek, Keith Butler, Eric Fornataro, Jorge Rondon and Kevin Siegrist.

After all the ins and outs, 39 players remain as Rule 5-eligible, down from 47 one year ago. In this article, we will identify the level at which these players have been designated by the Cardinals.

This is an important factor, not understood and appreciated 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 2013 season or be offered back to the Cardinals at half the purchase price.

For 2012, 34 Rule 5-eligible players have been placed on Memphis' roster. 15 are pitchers, including three left-handers. The other 19 are position players, made up of six catchers, 11 infielders and two outfielders.

The table below indicates the level at which each of these players concluded their respective 2012 campaigns as well as whether or not this is their first time being Rule 5-eligible. Over half are repeaters while three of the players were not with the organization this time last year.

Memphis pitchers Pos 2012 1st R5
Nick Additon LHS Memphis no
Jose Almarante RHR Palm Beach yes
Richard Castillo RHS Springfield no
Yunior Castillo RHR Quad Cities no
Chris Corrigan RHS Palm Beach yes
Ramon Delgado RHR Springfield (inj) no
Anthony Ferrara LHS Palm Beach yes
Scott Gorgen RHS Springfield no
Nick Greenwood LHR Memphis yes
Deryk Hooker RHR Springfield no
Scott McGregor RHS Springfield no
Adam Reifer RHR Memphis yes
Zack Russell RHR Palm Beach no
Robert Stock RHS Quad Cities yes
Kevin Thomas RHR  Springfield  no
Memphis catchers
Juan Castillo C Quad Cities no
Rob Johnson  C  New York Mets new StL
Jesus Montero C Batavia no
Audry Perez C  Springfield yes
Travis Tartamella C Springfield yes
Gerwuins Velazco C Johnson City yes
Memphis infielders
Jermaine Curtis 2B/3B Springfield no
Roberto De La Cruz 1B Quad Cities yes
Ronny Gil SS Palm Beach no
Luis Mateo 2B Quad Cities yes
David Medina 1B/OF Quad Cities no
Luis Perez 2B Gulf Coast  yes
Brock Peterson 1B Memphis new StL
Jonathan Rodriguez 1B Palm Beach yes
Xavier Scruggs 1B Springfield no
Cesar Valera SS Johnson City yes
Ildemaro Vargas 2B Batavia yes
Memphis outfielders
Tommy Pham OF Springfield (inj) no
Chris Swauger OF Memphis no

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.

Pitchers are easier for a claiming organization to keep all season long, so are more likely lost than position players. The ones I consider most at risk to be taken by another club are a trio of Springfield teammates - pitchers Richard Castillo and Scott Gorgen plus catcher Audry Perez.

Another interesting player made available is reliever Adam Reifer, recently removed from the Cardinals' 40-man roster. Some organization might take a flier if they think they can quickly restore the right-hander's lost velocity.

Minor league phase

The Cardinals did not place all their Rule 5-eligible players at Memphis. Therefore, five of their 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 of these players taken would likely not return in 2013.

These five Rule 5-eligible Cardinals farmhands have been placed on the Double-A Springfield roster for purposes of this Draft. None are infielders with the group being made up of one pitcher, one catcher and three outfielders.

Springfield pitchers Pos 2012 1st R5
John Gaub LHR Memphis new StL
Springfield catchers
Steven Hill C Memphis no
Springfield infielders
Springfield outfielders
Alan Ahmady OF Palm Beach (susp) yes
Virgil Hill OF Quad Cities yes
Michael Swinson OF Palm Beach yes

These players would cost less for another organization to select, specifically $12,000 each. Most importantly, they 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 2013.

Again, if any of the five Springfield-designated players are taken in the Draft, it is almost certain that they are not coming back.

Of the eligible position players, Steven Hill and John Gaub might be most appealing. Yet both were removed from the Cardinals' 40-man roster this fall and went unclaimed.

The 27-year-old Hill is a proven power bat with considerable Triple-A and Double-A experience. He can play the corner infield and outfield plus can catch, too. Gaub may not match the Cardinals' needs for left-handed relief, but he might help someone.

Alan Ahmady and Michael Swinson have been suspended for banned substance violations while Virgil Hill has yet to hit consistently when able to remain healthy.

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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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