The 2006 Rule 5 Draft meeting will be held tomorrow, and (as per usual) it will be the last order of business at the Winter Meetings.
Any player on a minor league roster who signed his first contract prior to the 2002 Rule 5 Draft (for players who were 18 or younger on June 5th prior to signing their first contract) or prior to the 2003 Rule 5 Draft (for players who were 19 or older on June 5th prior to signing their first contract) is eligible for selection.
The price to select a player off a AAA roster (the so-called "Major League Phase") is $50,000, off a AA roster it's $12,000 (the "AAA Phase"), and off a Class "A" roster, $4,000 (the "AA Phase"). Clubs can only make as many selections in the Major League Phase of the draft as they have spots open on their 40-man roster prior to the draft. (At present, only 20 of the 30 MLB clubs have spots available on their 40-man rosters; the CUBS, ATL, CHW, KC, LAA, LAD, PIT, STL, SEA, and TB are the clubs that don't, so they will not be able to make any selections in the "Major League Phase" of the Rule 5 Draft, although they will be allowed to select players in the AAA and AA phases).
A player who is selected off a AAA roster must be kept on the drafting club's 25-man roster for the entire following MLB season. However, if a player spends more than 90 days on the drafting club's DL during the season after selection, the drafting club must keep the player on its 25-man regular season active roster for 60 days at the start of the following season, too. After the player has spent the required time on the drafting club's 25-man regular season active roster, the player can be optioned to the minor leagues by the drafting club in as many subsequent seasons as the player has options left. (For instance, Andy Sisco
, who was selected by the Kansas City Royals from the Cubs in the 2004 Rule 5 Draft and who was subsequently kept on the Royals 25-man roster for the entire 2005 season, was optioned to AAA by the Royals for 12 days last season, and can be optioned to the minors again in 2007, 2008, and 2009 if KC feels Sisco needs more time down on the farm).
If a drafting club wishes to send a player selected in the Rule 5 Draft to the minors prior to completion of the required time on the 25-man roster, the club must place the player on Outright Waivers (which are irrevocable), and any of the other MLB clubs can claim the player for the $20,000 waivers price. That club would then assume the Rule 5 requirements for that player.
If the player is not claimed off Outright Waivers, then the drafting club must offer the player back to the player's original club. If the original club takes the player back, the drafting club gets half of the Rule 5 Draft price back ($25,000), and the player can be placed on the original club's 40-man roster or he can be sent outright to the minor leagues (club option). However, if the player has been outrighted previously in his career, he has the option to be a free-agent immediately, or he can defer the decision until after the season.
If the player's original club declines to take the player back, the drafting club must keep the player, and the club can either release him or send him outright to the minors (and again, if the player has been outrighted previously in his career, he has the option to be a free-agent rather than accept the outright assignment.
For players selected off a AA roster or off a Class "A" roster, all sales are final. The player can be assigned anywhere in the drafting club's organization, and does not have to be offered back to the player's original team. These players become just another player in the drafting team's organization.
48 Cubs minor leaguers will be eligible for selection in this year's Rule 5 Draft. Originally there were more than 60 Cubs minor leaguers eligible, but a recent change in MLB Rule 5 reduced the number of players who will be eligible for selection. (Prior to the change, players on minor league rosters who signed their first contract when they were 18 or younger were eligible for selection at the Rule 5 Draft meeting following their fourth season in the minors, and players who signed their first contract when they were 19 or older were eligible for selection at the Rule 5 Draft meeting following their third season in the minors).
Here are the 48 Cubs minor leaguers who will be eligible for selection in this year's Rule 5 Draft:
NOTE: All players are on AAA Iowa roster (eligible for Major League Phase - $50,000 price)
denotes player is on Class AA roster (eligible for AAA Phase of draft -$12,000 price)
denotes player is on Class "A" roster (eligible for selection in AA Phase - $4,000 price)
CUBS MINOR LEAGUERS ELIGIBLE FOR SELECTION IN 2006 RULE 5 DRAFT
- LISTED ALPHABETICALLY
** Ryan Bicondoa
** Nate Bland
* Jose Caridad
Gary Cates, Jr
** Matt Craig
** Alfredo Francisco
** Alberto Garcia
** Luke Hagerty
** Jesse Hoorelbeke
** Geoff Jones
** Richard Lewis
** Albenis Machado
** Isaac Pavlik
* Leonel Perez
* Robert Ransom
** Tony Richie
** Andy Shipman
** Jesus Yepez
Because of the changes in MLB Rule 5, almost all of the players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year were eligible last year, but weren't chosen. So don't expect to see a Roberto Clemente, George Bell, or Johan Santana get selected this time around. Some of the players who are eligible could have been claimed off waivers at some point along the way, while others were signed as minor league free-agents and were available to any MLB organization who might have been interested. And then there are the poor souls with cloudy futures who are rehabbing from elbow or shoulder injuries at Fitch Park. However, it's still possible that the Cubs might lose a player or two.
CUBS TOP 10 BEST BETS TO ATTRACT ATTENTION AT THE RULE 5 DRAFT MEETING (MAJOR LEAGUE-PHASE)
- LISTED ALPHABETICALLY:
RHP Federico Baez
: A rubber-armed converted third-baseman (ex-Orioles) who can start or relieve, Baez pitched for Team Puerto Rico in last Spring's World Baseball Classic, and then split the 2006 season between AA and AAA. Now 25, Baez could be the type of healthy and mature arm a small-market team in search of a cheap middle-relief option might consider.
LHP Edward Campusano
: Until he suffered a mid-season elbow injury, the 24-year old Campusano was on the same track as Clay Rapada
(who along with RHP Rocky Cherry
, was added to the Cubs 40-man roster last month). An All-Star at Peoria and the top closer in the MWL before getting a June double-jump promotion to AA, Campusano (if healthy) could be very attractive as an MLB LOOGY. But the Cubs have done a good job of not releasing any information about Campusano's physical condition, so maybe they have done that to dissuade clubs from selecting him in the Rule 5 Draft. Or maybe they just don't know what's going on.
2B Mike Fontenot
: A former #1 draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles out of LSU (he was Ryan Theriot
's DP partner on the Tigers 2000 CWS champion team), Fontenot was one of three players acquired from the Orioles for Sammy Sosa
a couple of years ago. Fontenot was on the Cubs 40-man roster in 2005, but was outrighted to AAA after the season after nobody claimed him off waivers. So if no MLB club thought enough of him to claim him off waivers for $20,000 in November 2005, why would any of those same clubs spend $50,000 and endure Rule 5 restrictions for a year to acquire him now? Good question. Fontenot's main problem is that while he is a good hitter and shows good patience at the plate, he has just average speed, is stiff at second-base, and probably should be playing LF (like Frank Catalonotto
). But Fontenot, who is now 26, does not have the speed or power to play a corner OF slot. He also doesn't have the athleticism or versatilty to be a utility player. So if anybody takes a shot at Fontenot, it probably would have to be with the idea of giving him a chance to be an everyday MLB second-baseman. What MLB club that would be, I don't know. But maybe there is one, somewhere.
C Jake Fox
: Rich Hill
's battery-mate at the University of Michigan and probably the best "prospect" among the 50 Cubs players exposed in the draft, Fox is a true "project." He has plus-power at the plate, but he also is a first-ball fastball hitter who strikes out way too much. He has a decent arm behind the plate, but has poor receiving skills and catching mechanics. If he improves his receiving, and becomes more selective as a hitter, he could possibly be an MLB #1 catcher. Or at least maybe a platoon-catcher. Eventually. But that could be two, three, maybe even four years from now. And at 24, he's not getting any younger. A more-likely projection for Fox is that he will develop into a back-up C-1B-3B-LF-RF-RHPH who can provide some "pop" off the bench.
1B Micah Hoffpauir
: After a disappointing 2005 season at AAA where he got a mid-season demotion to AA, Hoffpauir did the exact opposite this past season, starting the year at AA, and then hitting (bashing) his way back up to AAA. Once at Iowa, Micah claimed the starting 1B job from Brandon Sing, but had his season cut-short by a strained oblique in August, probably costing him a chance to get a look in Chicago in September. Even though he missed a month at the end of the season, Hoffpauir still tied Scott Moore
for the HR lead (with 22) among all Cubs minor leaguers in 2006 (and Hoffpauir did it in 15 fewer games than Moore), and so the strapping 24-year old lad from Lamar University could be attractive as a back-up or (even) platoon 1B and LHPH for an MLB club looking for cheap bench help.
RHP Lincoln Holdzkom
: One of two pitchers acquired from Florida at the end of Spring Training for Todd Wellemeyer
, the 24-year old Holdzkom was once a promising relief prospect and was even added to the Marlins 40-man roster at one point (2003), before tearing an elbow ligament in 2004 that required Tommy John surgery. Still trying to find his way back, Linc throws hard cider (mid-90's heater and biting slider), and when he's "on," he can be unhittable... and when he's "off"... he can't hit the side of a barn. On the mound, he sort of resembles ex-Piniella "Nasty Boy" Rob Dibble
. If Holdzkom can get his mechanics straightened-out and then replicate it, and find a consistent release point, he could be another Bobby Jenks
. If he can't, he could be out of baseball this time next year.
3B-1B-C Casey McGehee
: After spending all of 2006 at AAA Iowa as the I-Cubs everyday third-baseman, the 24-year old McGehee is having an outstanding go of it right now in the Mexican Pacific League. He could be a back-up 3B-1B-C-RHPH option for a small market team in '07. He has a nice line-drive stroke, he is a patient hitter, he's versatile in the field, and fundamentally sound in all areas.
LHP Carmen Pignatiello
: Split 2006 between AA and AAA, and then pitched in the Arizona Fall League. Once just a journeyman starting pitcher, then a fairly useful "swingman," and now a full-time reliever, the 24-year old Pignatiello was eligible to be a Six-Year Minor League Free-Agent after this past season, but opted to re-sign with the Cubs for 2007, probably after the Cubs guaranteed him a slot in the AFL and an NRI to Spring Training (as happened with Brandon Sing
a year ago). Piggy looked just great in the AFL, and guys who do well there usually are the first to get attention in that year's Rule 5 Draft (see Dan Uggla
CF Chris Walker
: His game is speed, and he is a good base-stealer. And he is a better hitter than Dwaine Bacon
. In fact, he has improved a lot as a hitter, and he can bunt, too. But he is also 26 years old and has yet to reach AAA, although he has been making steady progress through the Cubs system. Some MLB club desperate for a lead-off hitter who can play CF (Florida or Colorado, maybe?) might pay 50K to take a look at Walker in Spring Training, but he would certainly be a long-shot to make it long-term in the big leagues.
RHP Randy Wells
: Like Carlos Marmol
, the 24-year old Wells is a converted catcher who is still learning how to pitch. After starting the year in the rotation at AA West Tenn and pitching "lights out," Wells got promoted to Iowa and struggled. He probably projects as an MLB middle-reliever (although he could be one of those Joe Mays
-types who can slot #5 in a rotation), and he probably needs another year of AAA experience, but that might not stop the Colorado Rockies or Washington Nationals of the world from investing $50,000 to take a look at Wells in Spring Training.
CUBS TOP FIVE BEST BETS TO ATTRACT ATTENTION AT THE RULE 5 DRAFT MEETING (AAA & AA PHASES)
Of the 17 players eligible in the AAA or AA (minor league) portion of the draft (where if they get selected, they don't come back), the most-likely candidates for selection are (listed alphabetically):
RHP Ryan Bicondoa
: Signed by the Cubs this past Summer, the now 27-year old Bicondoa spent three seasons (2004-06) pitching for North Shore in the independent Can-Am League. He had previously pitched in the NYY and NYM organizations (2002-03), during which time he was one of three pitchers traded to the Mets by the Yankees for Armando Benitez
, before being released by the Mets at the end of Spring Training 2004. He was used as a starter/reliever "swingman" at Daytona in '06 after the Cubs signed him.
3B-1B Matt Craig
: A switch-hitting corner infielder with power, Craig was a 3rd round draft pick out of the University of Richmond (where he was a teammate of Nic Jackson
) in 2002 and had a couple of good years at AA in 2004-05 before getting caught in a "numbers game" and getting demoted to Daytona this past season. Now 25, Craig is easily the best of the Cubs in the AAA/AA draft group and is practically a lock to get selected.
LHP Isaac Pavlik
: Spent the 2005-06 seasons pitching for New Jersey in the independent Can-Am league (where he was one of the best pitchers in th league), before signing a minor league contract with the Cubs this past Summer. Prior to his stint in Indy ball, Pavlik had been a 10th round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies (2002) out of Seton Hall, and spent three seasons in the COL organization before getting released in 2004. The 26-year old Pavlik worked mostly as a rotation starter at Hi-A Daytona and then AA West Tenn after signing with the Cubs. He is only 5'8, but he was a lefty closer with a high-velocity fastball in his college days at the Hall.
C Tony Richie
: A promising 4th round draft pick out of Florida State in 2003 (the same year the Cubs selected another catcher--Jake Fox--in the 3rd round), the now 24-year old Richie has not developed as hoped and has apparently settled into life as a AA back-up catcher.
RHP Andy Shipman
: Signed by the Red Sox as a NDFA out of the University of Missouri in 2003, Shipman, who will turn 25 next week, was acquired by the Cubs from Boston for LHP Jimmy Anderson
in 2004 and was the closer at AA West Tenn in 2005. He got promoted to AAA Iowa in 2006, where he was mainly used in middle relief.
MLB TOP TEN BEST RULE 5 CLAIMS SINCE WWII:
1. RF Roberto Clemente
(by PIT from BRK - 1954)
2. LHP Johan Santana
(by FLA from HOU, then immediately traded to MIN - 1999)
3. LF George Bell
(by TOR from PHI - 1980)
4. 3B Darrell Evans
(by ATL from OAK - 1968)
5. 2B Tony Taylor
from SF - 1957)
6. 2B Manny Trillo
(by OAK from PHI - 1969)
7. C Jody Davis
from STL - 1980)
8. RHP Elroy Face
(by PIT from BRK - 1952)
9. 2B Bobby Knoop
(by LAA from MIL - 1963)
10. 2B Dan Uggla
(by FLA from AZ - 2005)