Cards 2013 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 2013 Rule 5 Draft, to be held in Orlando, Fla. on December 12 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 three players to the 40-man roster, exempting them from Rule 5 consideration. They are infielder Greg Garcia and outfielders Mike O'Neill and Oscar Taveras. Two players were outrighted off the 40-man roster and now become eligible for this draft – left-handed pitcher John Gast and infielder Jermaine Curtis.

Three other additions are included since the last time we covered this subject in detail. Two are recent free agent signings – catcher Ed Easley and third baseman Scott Moore. The other is Dominican Summer League shortstop Allen Cordoba, who was omitted previously.

After all the ins and outs, 47 players are Rule 5-susceptible, up from 39 one year ago.

In this article, we will identify the level at which these players have been designated for protection 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 2014 season or be offered back to the Cardinals at half the purchase price.

For 2013, 35 Rule 5-eligible players have been placed on Memphis' roster. 14 are pitchers, including six left-handers. That group includes two just back home from the Arizona Fall League in Anthony Ferrara and Dean Kiekhefer, plus Justin Wright, who pitched in the AFL previously. Former first or second-round draft picks available are pitchers Seth Blair, Jordan Swagerty and Robert Stock.

The other 21 are position players, made up of five catchers, 12 infielders and four outfielders. That group includes former top prospects Anthony Garcia, Tommy Pham and Starlin Rodriguez, all outfielders.

The table below also indicates the level at which each of these players concluded their respective 2013 campaigns as well as whether or not this is their first time being Rule 5-eligible. 18 of the 35 are repeaters, not selected in a previous Rule 5.

Triple-A protection Position 2013 1st R5
Almarante, Jose RHR Mem no
Blair, Seth RHS Spr  
Cordoba, Allen IF DSL  
Corrigan, Chris RHS PB no
Curtis, Jermaine IF Mem no
Easley, Ed C AAA  
Ferrara, Anthony LHS Spr no
Garcia, Anthony OF PB  
Gast, John LHS StL  
Gil, Ronny IF PB no
Greenwood, Nick LHR Mem no
Kiekhefer, Dean LHR Spr  
Mateo, Luis IF Spr no
McGregor, Scott RHS Mem no
Montero, Jesus C PB no
Moore, Scott IF AAA  
Nazario, Iden LHR PB  
Perez, Luis OF SC no
Pham, Tommy OF Mem no
Polanco, Jhonny RHR SC  
Ramos, Steven OF SC  
Rodriguez, Jonathan 1B PB no
Rodriguez, Starlin OF Spr  
Scruggs, Xavier 1B Spr no
Stanley, Cody C Spr  
Stock, Robert RHR PB no
Swagerty, Jordan RHS PB  
Tartamella, Travis C Mem no
Valera, Cesar IF SC no
Vargas, Ildemaro IF Peo no
Velazco, Gerwuins C Peo no
Walsh, Colin IF Spr  
Washington, David 1B SC  
Whiting, Boone RHS Mem  
Wright, Justin LHR Spr  

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 Memphis starter Boone Whiting and Blair. At another time in this system, I think the two would have been protected.

If healthy, Gast and Swagerty would also surely be taken, but then again, if healthy, they probably would have been protected by the Cardinals in the first place.

Double-A protection

The Cardinals did not place all their Rule 5-eligible players at Memphis. Therefore, 12 of their players will be eligible to be taken in the minor league phases of the Rule 5. Due to less-restrictive rules for players rostered below Triple-A, any of these players taken would not return in 2014.

Nine Rule 5-eligible Cardinals farmhands have been placed on the Double-A Springfield roster for purposes of this draft. The group is made up of four pitchers, including one lefty, one catcher (retired Juan Castillo), one infielder and three outfielders.

Double-A protection Position 2013 1st R5
Castillo, Juan C retired no
Harris, Mitch RHR SC  
Hernandez, Hector LHS PB  
Lemmerman, Jake IF Spr  
Longmire, Nick OF PB  
Lucas, Aidan RHR PB  
Melker, Adam OF Spr  
Swauger, Chris OF Mem no
Thomas, Kevin  RHR Mem no

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 2014.

Again, if any of the nine Springfield-designated players are taken in the draft, it is almost certain that they are not coming back. Same for the Class-A players that follow.

Of the eligible Double-A players, outfielder Chris Swauger and left-handed pitcher Hector Hernandez might be most appealing.

The 27-year-old Swauger is a dependable bat with considerable Triple-A and Double-A experience and a career .767 OPS. However, his opportunity for playing time next season is questionable given the outfield prospects currently at the top levels of the system.

Hernandez, still just 22, finished 2013 with A-Advanced Palm Beach. The Puerto Rican native was St. Louis' 10th-round selection in the 2009 Draft. In 86 career games, including 71 starts, Hernandez has a 21-19 record with a 3.93 ERA. He fanned 311 and walked 141 in 389 innings.

Shortstop Jake Lemmerman was acquired from the Dodgers for Skip Schumaker last winter, but did not impress with the bat at Springfield, hitting .231. Former Naval officer Mitch Harris has a great backstory, but has yet to pitch in full-season ball at the age of 28. Nick Longmire is a 2010 fifth-rounder that never got untracked as a professional.

Single-A protection

The final three Cardinals players eligible for the draft are pitchers put on Class-A rosters.

A protection Position 2013 1st R5
Lopez, Stalyn LHR GCL  
Lucas, Josh RHS SC  
Paulino, Willy RHS SC  

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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