Barton, Whitney Lost In Rule 5 Draft

Brian Barton and Matt Whitney, two players highly ranked for years in Indians Ink's annual rating of prospects in the Cleveland farm system, were lost from the organization in the Rule 5 Draft. Barton, an impressive 25-year-old outfielder, was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals. Whitney, a 23-year-old first baseman who had a remarkable resurgence in 2007, went to the Washington Nationals.

Barton likely will compete with Skip Schumaker and Joe Mather for a role as an extra outfielder with the Cardinals behind Rick Ankiel, Jim Edmonds, Chris Duncan and ex-Indian Ryan Ludwick. Veteran Juan Encarnacion also is still with the club, but not expected to recover from his serious eye injury and be able to play.

Barton, a 6-3, 190-pound right-hander, always hit well in the Tribe system after signing with Cleveland as a non-drafted free agent in August 2004. Entering the 2007 season, he was ranked No. 7 overall by Indians Ink Magazine in our annual rating of the top 100 prospects in the Tribe farm system.

Despite being slowed by a knee injury, he again hit well at Double-A Akron, batting .314 with 20 stolen bases and being named to the Eastern League All-Star team. Promoted to Triple-A Buffalo, he batted .264 for the Bisons.

Overall, he is a .317 hitter in 354 career minor-league games.

Whitney, switched from third base to first base during 2007 spring training, had a big offensive year in Class A ball. In 71 games at Lake County, he batted .308 with 16 homers and 64 RBI to earn a promotion to Kinston, where he batted .288 with 16 homers and 49 RBI in 57 games. His overall totals of 32 homers, 113 RBI and a .299 average were quite a change from his previous four seasons.

Drafted out of high school by Cleveland in the first round (No. 33 overall) in 2002, he had a good debut at low level Burlington, batting .286 with 10 homers and 33 RBI in 45 games.

But he broke his leg in an off-field accident during spring training 2003, missed that entire season, and hit only .256, .242 and .206 with homer totals of 5, 6, and 10 the next three seasons at Class A.

Whitney probably has less of a chance than Barton of making it to the majors in 2008. Veteran Dmitri Young has a big year at first base in 2007 for Washington and the Nationals' premier player is third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals have signed former Indians third baseman Aaron Boone as a free agent. He played both corner positions this season for the Florida Marlins. Veteran first baseman Nick Johnson, who missed all of 2007 with an injury, is due back, too.

The Nationals most likely want to see Whitney first-hand during spring training then work a trade with the Indians to retain his rights and send him to their farm system for more work.

Here are the players selected in this year's Rule 5 draft:

1. Tampa Bay, Timothy Lahey, RHP, Minnesota (Rochester Red Wings).

2. Pittsburgh, Evan Meek, RHP, Tampa Bay (Durham Bulls).

3. Baltimore, Randor Bierd, RHP, Detroit (Toledo Mud Hens).

4. San Francisco, Jose Capellan, LHP, Boston (Pawtucket Red Sox).

5. Florida, Jose Guevara, RHP, Cincinnati (Louisville Bats).

6. Cincinnati, Sergio Valenzuela, RHP, Atlanta (Richmond Braves).

7. Washington, Matt Whitney, 1B-3B, Cleveland (Buffalo Bisons).

8. Houston, Dequam Wright, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Las Vegas 51's).

9. Oakland, Fernando Hernandez, Jr., RHP, Chicago White Sox (Charlotte Knights).

10. St. Louis, Brian Barton, OF, Cleveland (Buffalo Bisons).

11. Toronto, Randy Wells, RHP, Chicago Cubs (Iowa Cubs).

12. Seattle, Robert Dickey, RHP, Minnesota (Rochester Red Wings).

13. N.Y. Mets, Steven Register, RHP, Colorado (Colorado Springs Sky Sox).

14. San Diego, Michael Gardner, RHP, N.Y. Yankees (Scranton Yankees).

15. Philadelphia, Travis Blackley, LHP, San Francisco (Fresno Grizzlies).

16. Washington, Garrett Guzman, OF, Minnesota (Rochester Red Wings).

17. San Diego, Callix Crabbe, 2B, Milwaukee (Nashville Sounds).

18. Philadelphia, Lincoln Holdzkom, RHP, Boston (Pawtucket Red Sox).

Triple-A Phase
1. Rashad Eldridge, OF, by Durham (TB), from Minnesota (New Britain).
2. Josh Hill, RHP, by Indianapolis (PIT) from Minnesota (New Britain).
3. Ray Liotta, LHP, by Omaha (KC) from Chicago, AL (Winston-Salem).
4. Ryan Rodriguez, LHP, by Norfolk (BAL) from Chicago, AL (Winston-Salem).
5. Juan Ciriaco,SS, by Fresno (SF) from San Diego (Lake Elsinore).
6. Smelin Perez, SS, by Albuquerque (FLA) from Pittsburgh (State College).
7. Juan Apodaca, C, by Louisville (CIN) from Los Angeles, NL (Great Lakes).
8. Santo Luis, RHP, by Charlotte (CWS) from Houston (Lexington).
9. Giuseppe Norrito, RHP, by Round Rock (HOU) from Los Angeles, NL (Jacksonville).
10. Levi Romero, RHP, by Oklahoma (TEX) from Houston (Oklahoma).
11. Jose Fragoso, RHP, by Sacramento (OAK) from Detroit (Oneonta).
12. Victor Garate, LHP, by Las Vegas (LAD) from Houston (Tri-City).
13. Joe Bateman, RHP, by Nashville (MIL) from San Francisco (Connecticut).
14. Marcos Cabral, SS, by Syracuse (TOR) from Washington (Hagerstown).
15. Juan Cedeno, LHP, by Toledo (DET) from Washington (Wichita).
16. Garry Bakker, RHP, by New Orleans (NYM) from Chicago, AL (Winston-Salem).
17. Gabe DeHoyos, RHP, by Portland (SD) from Kansas City (Wichita).
18. Patrick Sellers, 3B, by Ottawa (PHI) from Houston (Corpus Christi).
19. Bo Hall, RHP, by Scranton/WB (NYY) from Milwaukee (Huntsville).
20. Julio Puentes, RHP, by Durham (TB) from Houston (VSL Astros).
21. Mauricio Mendez, RHP, by Indianapolis (PIT) from Boston (GCL Red Sox).
22. Tim Brown, 1B, by Norfolk (BAL) from San Diego (San Antonio).
23. Daron Roberts, OF, by Albuquerque (FLA) from Chicago, AL (Winston-Salem).
24. Dustin Majewski, OF, by Oklahoma (TEX) from Toronto (New Hampshire).
25. Jose Rojas, RHP, by Sacramento (OAK) from Cincinnati (Sarasota).
26. Richard Campbell, RHP, by Nashville (MIL) from Washington (Harrisburg).
27. Brant Colamarino, 1B, by Syracuse (TOR) from Oakland (Sacramento).
28. Benjamin Fritz, RHP, by Toledo (DET) from Oakland (Midland).
29. Kurt Isenberg, LHP, by Portland (SD) from Toronto (New Hampshire).
30. Luke Appert, 2B, by Ottawa (PHI) from Oakland (Midland).
31. Jose Mejias, RHP, by Durham (TB) from New York, NL (VSL Mets).
32. Corey Hamman, LHP, by Indianapolis (PIT) from Detroit (Toledo).
33. Clayton Hamilton, RHP, by Oklahoma (TEX) from Pittsburgh (Lynchburg).
34. Scott Mitchinson, RHP, by Sacramento (OAK) from Philadelphia (Lakeland).
35. Juan Sandoval, RHP, by Nashville (MIL) from Seattle (Tacoma).
36. Jaime Trejo, 3B, by Oklahoma (TEX) from Atlanta (Quintana).
Double-A Phase
1. Rafael Cruz Chavez, RHP, by Altoona (PIT) from Los Angeles, AL (Veracruz).
2. J.P Martinez, RHP, by Bowie (BAL) from Minnesota (Rochester).
3. Kenny Fernandez, RHP, by Carolina (FLA) from Philadelphia (DSL Phillies).
4. Francisco Cordova, RHP, by Frisco (TEX) from Los Angeles, AL (Quintana).
5. Baltazar Lopez, 1B, by Mobile (ARI) from Los Angeles, AL (Chihuahua).
6. Adalberto Mendez, RHP, by Carolina (FLA) from Chicago, NL (Tennessee).

In the major-league phase, each player was selected at a cost of $50,000 apiece off Triple-A rosters. Drafted players must stay on the active (25-man) major league roster of their new club for the entire 2008 season or be offered back to their old team for $25,000.

Players not on their team's 40-man roster may be drafted, but only after a standard exemption period had elapsed. Only teams with rosters under the 40-man limit may participate. The Indians' roster is full so they could not pick a player this year.

A player who is signed at age 18 can spend five seasons in an organization before he must be protected. Anyone signed at 19 or older must be protected after four years. In both instances, a player then must be put on the 40-man roster or be eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

Relief pitcher Tim Lahey was the first selection overall, picked from the Minnesota Twins by the Tampa Bay Rays and then sold to the Chicago Cubs. This is similar to a move done by the Rays a year ago, when they drafted outfielder Ryan Goleski from the Indians and traded him to the Oakland Athletics. Goleski failed to make the A's roster out of spring training and was returned to the Indians.

Lahey spent most of 2007 at New Britain of the Couble-A Eastern League, going 8-4 with 13 saves and a 3.45 ERA in 50 games. The right-hander struck out 56 in 78 1/3 innings.

The selecting team may waive their draftee at any time. If the player clears waivers by not signing with a new MLB team, he must be offered back to the original team, effectively canceling the Rule 5 draft choice. Once a Rule 5 draftee spends an entire season on his new team's 25-man roster, though, his status reverts to normal and he may be optioned or designated for assignment.

Prominent players who have been recent Rule 5 picks include two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins, relievers Antonio Alfonseca, Matt Mantei and Graeme Lloyd, second baseman Fernando Vina and outfielder Shane Victorino.

A year ago, the Chicago Cubs picked former first overall pick Josh Hamilton from the Tampa Bay organization and traded him to Cincinnati. Hamilton hit .292 with 19 homers and 47 RBI for the Reds.

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