Mike Costanzo (3B) - Once a highly touted prospect in the Phillies organization, Costanzo went to Houston as part of the Brad Lidge deal last November and then wound up in Baltimore as part of the Miguel Tejeda deal. In his first season at Triple-A, Costanzo's power numbers dipped, but a lot of that could be attributed to playing at Harbor Park with their sometimes ferocious winds blowing in. He's got raw power and is a hard worker, looking to cut down on his strikeouts. He's playing in Puerto Rico to continue learning to play at first base and behind the plate, increasing his versatility and value.
Boston Red Sox
Bubba Bell (OF) - The 26 year old Bell spent his first full season at Double-A in 2008 and hit .285 with 13 home runs at Double-A Portland. Bell is more than willing to use the entire field to drop in hits and is very selective at the plate. He could be a nice pick for a club that would be willing to take him along for the ride in 2009.
Donald Veal (LHP) - After seemingly breezing through the lower levels of the minors, Veal has been beat up a little bit the past couple of seasons. He's got an above-average fastball and a useable curve, but struggles with his control. He's still just 24 and pitched at Double-A Tennessee each of the last two seasons, posting a combined 4.73 ERA.
Chicago White Sox
Derek Rodriguez (RHP) - After working as a starter in his professional career, Rodriguez moved to the bullpen this past season and did a nice job. He pitched at both Double-A and Triple-A for a combined mark of 5-2, 3.29 in 49 games (79 1/3 IP).
Carlos Torres (RHP) - Torres has pitched as both a reliever and starter and made it to Triple-A for eight games (one start) in 2008. While his numbers there weren't anything special, he's not far from being ready and could work through a season in a team's bullpen if they're willing to be patient.
T.J. Burton (RHP) - A member of the 2008 Canadian Olympic team, Burton has pitched in a variety of roles in his seven years in the minors. The right-hander switched his motion from strictly over the top to sidearm in 2008 and basically repeated his exact numbers from 2007 while staying at the Double-A level.
Bubbie Buzachero (RHP) - Buzachero is an intensely competitive reliever acquired in a minor trade from Toronto three years ago. He's got the fastball and aggressive nature to be a setup guy in the 'pen, but comes with some rather interesting sidelights. Things like getting punched out by a teammate (who was released) and missing the 2006 Class AA playoffs, and being known for biting the head off a live fish tend to get in the way.
Ryan Goleski (OF) - After being picked by Tampa Bay in the Rule 5 two years ago, Goleski was traded to Oakland, but sent back to the Indians after failing to make the A's roster. Goleski hit .306 with 27 homers and 106 RBI in 2006 and was excited to get a big-league chance in Oakland. He's struggled mightily since and would welcome a fresh start elsewhere, but probably has no chance of making a big-league roster out of training camp. The 26 year old played primarily at Double-A in 2008 and hit .249 with 12 home runs.
J.D. Martin (RHP) - A first-round draft choice out of high school in 2001, Martin has pitched quite well - when not on the disabled list. Numerous injuries have derailed his development. The right-hander has one of the best curveballs in the minors, good poise and command. Martin, who turns 26 in early January, has had two different stints at Triple-A for a combined 15 innings and a 4.80 ERA.
Bronson Sardinha (OF) - In 2007, the Yankees briefly brought Sardinha to the majors and he then went on to sign with Seattle and then Cleveland during a mixed-up 2008. A first-round pick by New York in 2001, the lefty hitter spent most of this past summer at Double-A Akron at age 25. Primarily a corner outfielder, Sardinha hasn't shown much more than average numbers in the minors.
Will Rhymes (2B) - Many draw comparisons to David Eckstein when they talk about Rhymes. The 25 year old played most of the season at Double-A Erie before finishing his season with six games at Triple-A Toledo. Combined, he hit .307 and also played 16 games at shortstop this season.
Jay Sborz (RHP) - Sborz has good size (6' 4", 210 pounds) and a lot of potential. He put up good numbers out of the bullpen for High-A Lakeland (2.87 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) and has shown improvement over the past couple of seasons after a slow start to his professional career. The 23 year old hasn't pitched higher than High-A ball.
James Skelton (C) - It can be tough for teams to hide a catcher on their roster all season, but Skelton might be worth a shot. He spent some time (24 games) at Double-A this season and is just 23 years old. He's got a good bat and a .292 average over five minor league seasons and threw out 39% of the runners attempting to run off of him in 2008 and 43% the year before. He needs a little work on blocking balls in the dirt, but he works well with pitchers and can control a game well.
Los Angeles Angels
Brad Coon (OF) - Coon is a speedy center fielder who has great plate awareness and is a terror on the base paths. Coon, who turns 26 on the day of the Rule 5 Draft (December 11), hit .306 at Salt Lake.
Bobby Wilson (C) - Wilson has some pop at the plate and is a solid defensive player that pitchers enjoy throwing to. The 25 year old was with the big league club for a total of 7 games in 2008 and hit .312 at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Steve Bray (RHP) - Bray turns 28 shortly after the Rule 5 Draft and has made pitched in four separate stints at Triple-A, including in 2008. He's amassed a 2.94 ERA in 89 Triple-A games (four starts), has decent control and has struck out almost one hitter per inning.
Brendan Katin (OF) - A 25 year old corner outfielder, Katin has good power and hit 19 home runs at Triple-A Nashville in 2008, following up on his career-high mark of 24 at Double-A Huntsville in 2007. His defensive skills are a little weak and he might be best drafted by an American League team that might be able to get some use out of his bat.
Rafael Lluberes (LHP) - After working primarily as a starter in his previous outings, the 24 year old Lluberes pitched primarily in relief at High-A Brevard County in 2008. He struggled a little with the adjustment, but still struck out a hitter per inning out of the bullpen.
Lou Palmisano (C) - Palmisano would be an unlikely choice for a team to make. He's only reached the Double-A level, but was at High-A Brevard County in 2008 where he hit .306 in 19 games.
David Welch (LHP) - The 25 year old had a nice season at Double-A Huntsville in 2008, going 11-4, 3.90 in 27 starts. In four minor league seasons, Welch has a 3.30 ERA, moving at least one level per season.
New York Mets
Adam Bostick (LHP) – If a club is looking for a left-handed arm to fill out their rotation, they could look to this Triple-A southpaw. Bostick, the Mets' first option from the farm for spot starts, was actually called up to New York in late April but was returned to Triple-A before he could throw even one inning. Knee surgery in late May cut short his season, but he went 2-2 with a 6.04 ERA in 11 starts this season and brings good velocity with a sharp slider that could help him hold down a fifth spot in the rotation or make him an effective reliever.
Shawn Bowman (3B) – After being sidelined by a major back injury for much of the previous two seasons, Bowman returned to the field for 55 games in 2008 and hit a combined .290 with four home runs and 21 RBI across High-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton. Soon to be 24, Bowman, who just missed out on the Mets 40-man roster, is the highest rated Mets prospect that is Rule 5 eligible. Health remains a legitimate question mark for the third baseman, but his ability to use the whole field and hit for power, plus a big arm on the hot corner, could entice clubs to select him. He hit .297 with two home runs and seven RBI in nine games in the Arizona Fall League.
Eric Brown (RHP) – The right-hander had a bumpy season at Double-A Binghamton as he posted a 6-9 record with a 5.05 ERA in 123 innings in a starter/swingman role, but he will not back down to hitters, coming right after them by pounding the bottom of the strike zone with his sinker/slider combination. Though he does not boast a dominant top pitch, he has a sharp pitching mind and is one of the toughest competitors in the Mets' system.
Jose Coronado (SS) – The Double-A shortstop does not offer too much at the plate, but he owns the most sound defensive skills at the upper levels of the Mets system. He has good range, quick feet, a strong arm and is very smooth around the bag when turning a double-play. His bat could turn off clubs from selecting him, but if a team is looking for defensive insurance at shortstop, there is very little risk in picking Coronado.
Junior Guerra (RHP) – In his first year with the Mets, Guerra was transformed from a catcher into a hard-throwing reliever with a mid-90s fastball who is quickly raising eyebrows across the organization. He still needs work refining his secondary pitches, but Guerra has shown great control of his fastball and good use of his slider as an off-pitch. He is still a bit of project, but could rise quickly on the heels of his power arm. In 34 innings in 2008, Guerra posted a 1-1 record with a 2.12 ERA with 41 strikeouts and seven walks across four levels before a stint in the Hawaiian Winter League.
New York Yankees
Kyle Anson (C) - Big-time big league plate discipline [he has more walks than strikeouts every year in college and in the pros] and a cannon for an arm. He was a great defensive third baseman three years ago but he doesn't hit for much power so they moved him to catcher. The biggest knocks on him are his below average power and his inability to stay healthy, but he is a great catch-and-throw guy who could develop into a Bill Mueller type offensively if he can stay healthy. The other knock on him is he hasn't played at Double-A or higher yet but he still has a good chance of being selected because the plate discipline and catch-and-throw would allow him to not be overmatched, and backup catchers are easy to stash on a big league roster for an entire year.
J. Brent Cox (RHP) - Former University of Texas closer drafted in the 2nd round back in 2005. He projects best as a middle reliever at this point - he throws a great moving sinker at 88-92 MPH, a plus slider, and a serviceable changeup. He compares favorably to Mets reliever Joe Smith and I suspect he'll get selected even though he missed the 2007 season with Tommy John surgery. He got to Triple-A this year. His ceiling isn't the highest but he's one of the safest bets to be a solid reliever.
Alan Horne (RHP) - He was a top five prospect a
year ago but was hurt all year this season and then had shoulder surgery. The
prognosis for his return is a bit shady. Some are saying he'll miss half of the
year this season but the Horne camp is saying he'll be ready by Spring
Training. He's a former first round pick of the Indians out of high school and
he's got great stuff [fastball, curveball, and slider are all plus pitches, and
his changeup can be solid]. I can't see a team taking him because of the injury
but he's one of those high reward picks if somebody does take him. I'm sure the
Yankees are banking on his injury scaring teams away.
Kevin Whelan (RHP) - Former college catcher has some nasty stuff but some command issues. He can top out at 97 MPH and has one of the best splitters around. He has developed a solid slider and changeup as well, but the guy walks like five batters per nine innings. He compares favorably to Marlins reliever Henry Owens and could be selected if a team is going just on pure stuff.
Zack Kroenke (LHP) - Former Nebraska starter has found a niche as a left-handed reliever. He continues to post solid numbers but he gets overlooked because he doesn't throw too hard [88-92]. His slider is his only plus pitch and it makes him extremely effective against left-handed batters. Some scouts are higher on him than I am so I imagine there's some interest out there.
The other guys exposed are [2B, 3B, SS] Reegie Corona and [SS] Ramiro Pena. Both are big league ready right now defensively, with Pena arguably better than half of the big league shortstops defensively, but Corona is the more prepared of the two offensively.
Brad Kilby (LHP) - This is the type of pitcher that teams may be attracted to. He's a lefty who specializes in getting left-handers out (lefties hit just .163 against him) and he spent the entire season at Triple-A Sacramento. Kilby will turn 26 in February and looks like he may be ready to pitch in the majors, making him a pretty safe pick for a team. His fastball tops out in the low-90s, but he has good movement on the pitch and gets a lot of strikeouts.
Danny Putnam (OF) - In 2007, Oakland brought Putnam to the big league club for 11 games and he hit .214 in his audition there. In five minor league seasons, he's hit .274 and averaged 11 home runs per season. He posted an .878 OPS for Triple-A Sacramento in 2008.
Anthony Recker (C) - Recker has shown good power in the minors and is a career .270 hitter through four minor league seasons. He struggled when the A's promoted him to Double-A during the 2007 season, so he repeated the level this past season and showed good improvement. For his experience, Recker is well disciplined at the plate and will work the count to his favor, but he's 25 and hasn't played above Double-A, so some teams may shy away from him a little because it would tough to hide him on the roster.
Javon Moran (OF) - He's got plenty of speed and good awareness at the plate. Moran reached Triple-A Lehigh Valley for 13 games and hit .303 in his visit with the IronPigs. He swiped a total of 24 bases in 2008 and a career-high of 31 the year before. His success rate on stealing bases is at 72% for his career, but is at 78% over his past two seasons.
Patrick Overholt (RHP) - Overholt split his 2007 season between High-A and Double-A, struggling mightily at Double-A. The Phillies sent him back for some more work at the Double-A level and the results were no better than in 2007. In two stints with Double-A Reading, he's now 9-17 with a 5.88 ERA.
Jeremy Slayden (OF) - Slayden is a tough-nosed player that projects as a potential fourth or fifth outfielder in the majors. The 26 year old spent his first season at Double-A in 2008 and responded with a 17-81-.298 campaign. It would be a long shot that he would be major league ready, but outfielders can sometimes hang on a roster, so he might be worth a shot.
Brad Corley (OF) - Corley, who turns 25 next month, hit .265 at Double-A Altoona in 2008. The Pirates like his power potential and see him as a guy who can drive in runs. He figures to be able to hit to all fields and has shortened his swing, but because he's not very disciplined at the plate, he still gets himself out a lot swinging at bad pitches, especially high fastballs. He's got a strong arm, good speed and enough range to play in right field.
Jason Delaney (1B/OF) - After setting the Boston College record for career hits (256) during his college days, Delaney struggled a little in his first short-season stint with the Pirates. After that first exposure though, he started to settle in and his offense has been strong and he's shown a knack for putting the bat on the ball. He hit 16 home runs in 2007, but has just 16 combined for his other two full-season stints and would likely need to develop more power without disrupting his hitting approach at the plate in order to be deemed a success.
Jamie Romak (OF/1B) - Has shown a lot of power (73 HR), but has also shown a lot of strikeouts (447) over his six years in the minors. Romak is still just 23 and played 33 games at the Double-A level last season, hitting .208 with seven home runs in 120 at bats, so if he isn't drafted, he'll likely return to Double-A Altoona for the Pirates.
San Diego Padres
Tim Stauffer (RHP) - Stauffer is coming off surgery, but had a terrific arm
that hit low-90s with solid secondary pitches. His mental game was always in the
way of his success though. Stauffer missed the entire season, but has pitched a
total of 94 2/3 innings in the majors with San Diego.
Jon Ellis (RHP) - Ellis is a right-hander who is especially tough on right-handed hitters. He's got a sidearm style motion and features a plus slider. He gets lots of ground balls and is very good with men on base. The 26 year old pitched primarily at Double-A San Antonio in 2008, posting a 3.19 ERA in 73 1/3 innings.
St. Louis Cardinals
Mark McCormick (RHP) - The Cardinals decided not to protect McCormick, mainly because the odds of a team taking him aren't very good. He ended the season on the DL and was pitching at the Advanced-A level in 2008, making him a long shot to be ready to stick with a major league club. He's definitely got talent and received a nice signing bonus, but injuries have been a stumbling block for him on his way to the majors. McCormick is a powerful pitcher, but struggles with control.
Mike Parisi (RHP) - After pitching well for Triple-A Memphis, the Cardinals were disappointed with what they got from Parisi when they brought him to the majors. The 25 year old wound up needing Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2009 season, making it unlikely that another team will grab him in the Rule 5 Draft. Even if they kept him on the DL for the entire season, he would then have to stay on the major league roster for 90 days during the 2010 season, making it a little risky for another team to draft him.
Luis Perdomo (RHP) - A reliever, Perdomo came over to the Cardinals in the deal that shipped pitcher Anthony Reyes to the Cleveland Indians. The 24 year old has a mid-90s fastball and an improving slider and pitched at Double-A Springfield after coming over to St. Louis. Perdomo was eligible in last year's Rule 5 Draft, but was not picked. His stock is higher this time around and he could go in the loss column for the Cardinals.
Among other Cardinals Rule 5-eligible farmhands not protected: Christofher Dumont, Cody Haerther, Trey Hearne, Elvis Hernandez, Kenny Maiques, Jon Mikrut, Matt Pagnozzi, Casey Rowlett, Mike Sillman and Brandon Yarbrough.
Tampa Bay Rays
Eduardo Morlan (RHP) - There were a lot of people who assumed the Rays would protect Morlan, who came over in the Delmon Young deal with Minnesota a year ago. He's got a good, live fastball and a strong slider and pitched at Double-A at just 22 this past season, going 4-2, 3.64 in 30 games out of the bullpen. He was hurt for much of the 2008 season and the Rays may very well lose him in the Rule 5 Draft.
Ryan Langerhans (OF) - If there is a team looking for an extra outfielder, Langerhans would be a good pick. He's an average player, but will chip in with a nice hit here and there and if nothing else, he's been around the majors and knows what to expect.
Yunior Novoa (LHP) - The 24 year old had somewhat of a breakout season in 2008. Pitching at both High-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, he pitched to a combined mark of 4-2, 2.09 appearing in 45 games, all in relief. He struck out a hitter per inning in 2008 after putting up very average numbers in previous seasons.
Pete Orr (IF) - Orr played 49 games in the majors last season and was at least respectable. He can play second, third, short and in the outfield, so he gives a team some versatility, even if it comes with just average production at the plate.
Jorge Padilla (OF) - While he's not a great prospect, the 29 year old has tons of minor league experience, including all or part of four seasons at Triple-A where he holds a .279 career average. He can play both corner outfield spots well and has at least an average arm. After 11 seasons in the minors, he's one of those guys that just deserves a shot somewhere.
Contributing to this article were Keith Glab (SoxHardball.com - Chicago White Sox), Tyler Hissey (RaysDigest.com - Tampa Bay Rays), Chuck Hixson (Philly Baseball News - Philadelphia Phillies), Steve Holley (InsideTheIvy.com - Chicago Cubs), Melissa Lockard (OaklandClubhouse.com - Oakland A's), Todd Mishler (BrewerUpdate.com - Milwaukee Brewers), Chuck Murr (Indians Ink - Cleveland Indians), Denis Savage (FutureHalos.com - LA Angels and MadFriars.com - San Diego Padres), Jon Star (Inside Pitch - NY Mets), Patrick Teale (PinstripesPlus.com - NY Yankees), George Von Benko (PiratesDugout.com - Pittsburgh Pirates), Brian Walton (The Birdhouse - St. Louis Cardinals), Paul Wezner (TigsTown.com - Detroit Tigers) and Jay Zenz (DC Baseball News - Washington Nationals).