Rule 5 Draft Blog


See also: Major League Rule 5 Draft Selections
See also: Minor League Rule 5 Draft Selections

The 2006 Rule 5 draft is here, and Chris Kline and John Manuel are blogging live from the Northern Hemisphere ballroom at Disney’s Swan & Dolphin resort.

8:40 a.m.: Early word in the Northern Hemisphere has the Athletics–after paying $100,000 to the Devil Rays for the rights to make the first pick–selecting outfielder Ryan Goleski with the draft’s first overall pick. Goleski, a 24th round pick in 2003 out of Eastern Michigan, has had ups and downs in the minors but finished 2006 at Double-A Akron, hitting .296/.370/.528 with 17 homers and 63 RBIs. Another source, however, indicates the Rockies are concerned righthander Pedro Strop could be the first overall pick. We’ll find out for sure a little after 9 a.m.

8:55 a.m.: Still big buzz on Padres righthander Joakim Soria; still uncertain what Royals and Cubs will do at No. 2 and 3, but it appears the Pirates will sell off the No. 4 spot for an undisclosed amount of cash. Also strong word on former Phillies and Giants farmhand Alfredo Simon, who had signed as a minor league free agent last month with the Rangers.

9 a.m.: And Roy Krasik of Major League Baseball is about to start. If all the plans come together, one of MLB’s broadcast partners–ESPN, Fox or new partner Turner Broadcasting–will put together something similar and televise the Rule 4 draft, also known as the amateur or first-year player draft. First comes roll call, and then the picks . . . as soon as we hear ‘em, we’ll type ‘em.

9:01 a.m.: We keep thinking of early-morning conversations. Several clubs have heard from the Nationals, Padres and Mets that they will be active in the minor league phases, plugging holes in their farm systems. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Royals were active there as well, as they have one more roster to fill, having added a third short-season team, Rookie-level Burlington.

The Devil Rays just drafted Ryan Goleski No. 1 overall. Off to Oakland, Ryan Goleski.

9:03 a.m.: Bombshell time! After Goleski and Joakim Soria go 1-2, the Cubs and Tim Wilken drop the biggest name in the Rule 5 in years, selecting Josh Hamilton off the Devil Rays’ roster. Hamilton, of course, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft but has battled injuries and drug problems since 2001, his only full season in the minors.

Other picks are coming fast and furious–the first seven teams all made picks. The Rockies, at No. 8, were the first team to pass.

9:15 a.m.: Here’s the whole major league phase.

Major League Phase

First Round
Team: Player, Pos., Previous Org.
1. Devil Rays: Ryan Goleski, of, Indians (to be traded to Oakland)
2. Royals: Joakim Soria, rhp, Padres
3. Cubs: Josh Hamilton, of, Devil Rays
4. Pirates: Sean White, rhp, Braves
5. Orioles: Alfredo Simon, rhp, Rangers
6. Nationals: Jesus Flores, c, Mets
7. Brewers: Edward Campusano, lhp, Cubs
15. Reds: Jared Burton, rhp, Athletics
17. Astros: Lincoln Holdzkom, rhp, Cubs
19. Phillies: Adam Donachie, c, Royals
20. Red Sox: Nick DeBarr, rhp, Devil Rays
21. Blue Jays: Jason Smith, ss, Cubs
23. Padres: Kevin Cameron, rhp, Twins
26. Athletics: Jay Marshall, lhp, White Sox
28. Twins: Alejandro Machado, if, Nationals
30. Yankees: Josh Phelps, 1b/dh, Orioles

Second Round:

1. Nationals: Levale Speigner, rhp, Twins
2. Phillies: Jim Ed Warden, rhp, Indians

Third Round:

1. Phillies: Ryan Budde, c, Angels

9:22 a.m. Some musings on the major league phase while the minor league phase progresses . . .

• Brilliant move by the Cubs on Josh Hamilton; why didn’t we think of that? No one has his upside in this draft, he’s the biggest Rule 5 name Jim Callis or I can recall, and if he can tame his demons, he could produce a big payoff. Perhaps being around big leaguers and a big league atmosphere will bring out the best in Hamilton, and Lou Piniella certainly has been around him from his days in the Devil Rays organization. Same for Tim Wilken, the Cubs’ scouting director. Smart, low-risk move, and maybe it will help the Rays as well. Now they don’t have to deal with Josh Hamilton questions anymore.

• The best prospects lost in the major league phase include catcher Jesus Flores from the Mets to the Nationals, where new manager Manny Acta–who came over from the Mets–should be familiar with Flores. Still, it’s hard to imagine a catcher jumping from high Class A to stick in the major leagues. Then again, these are the Nationals.

Among the other players picked, Josh Phelps was once the Blue Jays’ No. 1 prospect, and his righthanded power bat could find a fit with the Yankees, who are heavy on lefthanded hitters. He might be taking some of Andy Phillips’ playing time. Relievers Levale Speigner (low 90s fastball, hard curve) and Jim Ed Warden (lowered arm slot, heavy, low-90s sinker) both could stick, Speigner with the Nationals and Warden with the Phillies, if they are at their best next spring.

• The Cubs lost three players in the major league phase, more than any club. The Phillies were the most active team, with three picks. Pat Gillick was the master of the Rule 5 in his days as the GM in Toronto, plucking Kelly Gruber and George Bell, as well as Manny Lee, in the Rule 5 process. All became key starters for the Jays.

I’m taking the easy part, pontificating and typing in the list. Chris Kline did the hard work–you knew about these players before we ever started this crazy thing. So kudos to Kliner-Medley.

–JM

9:30 a.m.: Twenty-four picks in the Triple-A phase, and we’re already rolling with the Double-A phase. Interesting Triple-A picks:

• Elvis Andrus’ brother Erold gets picked again, this time from the Twins to the Devil Rays with the first pick of the Triple-A phase. See you in Durham, Erold.

• The Royals took Richard Lewis–the former Georgia Tech infielder, not the comedian and friend of Larry David–No. 2. Justin Jones, the lefthander who was once a Cubs’ second-round pick and big deal, was taken by the Nationals. I have a feeling no one with the Twins will be sorry to see him go. He had not made a positive impression since coming over from the Cubs in the 2004 Nomar Garciaparra–Doug Mientkiewicz four-team deal.

• The Nationals were hit hard in the Triple-A phase, losing five players from their already thin system–James Henderson, a Canadian righthander, to the Cubs; catcher Salomon Manriquez to the Rockies; middle infielder Trey Webb, a former Baylor star, to the Giants; Josh LaBandeira, another middle infielder, to the Marlins; and second baseman/third baseman Brandon Powell to the Padres.

Doggone it, I missed a SIXTH Nationals farmhand picked in the Triple-A phase: lefthander Ricardo Morales by the Mets.

9:45 a.m.: Biggest new rumor of the first round: Josh Hamilton won’t be a Cub. BA has learned Hamilton will be traded to the Reds for cash.

RULE 5 MINOR LEAGUE PHASE

Triple-A Phase

1. Devil Rays: Erold Andrus, of/1b, Twins
2. Royals: Richard Lewis, 2b, Cubs
3. Cubs: James Henderson, rhp, Nationals
4. Pirates: Moises Robles, rhp, Mets
6. Nationals: Justin Jones, lhp, Twins
7. Brewers: Michael Carlin, 1b, Pirates
8. Rockies: Salomon Manriquez, c, Nationals
10. Giants: Trey Webb, ss/2b, Nationals
12. Marlins: Josh Labandeira, if, Nationals
15. Reds: Francisco Mateo, lhp, Blue Jays
16. Rangers: Johany Abreu, ss, Giants
18. Cardinals: Omar Falcon, c, Giants
19. Phillies: Victor Hall, of, Yankees
23. Padres: Brandon Powell, 3b/2b, Nationals
26. Athletics: Andy Shipman, rhp, Cubs
28. Twins: Jesse Floyd, rhp, Giants
29: Mets: Ricardo Morales, lhp, Nationals

ROUND TWO

10. Marlins: Cristhian Martinez, rhp, Tigers
14. Rangers: Kendy Batista, rhp, Orioles
16. Cardinals: Jose Contreras, ss, Nationals
19. Athletics: Josh Alliston, rhp, Brewers
20. Twins: Brian Buscher, 3b, Giants

ROUND THREE

1. Marlins: Lorenzo Scott, of, Orioles
2. Rangers: Brian Munhall, c, Giants

DOUBLE-A PHASE

1. Devil Rays: Paul Moviel, rhp, White Sox
2. Pirates: Kevin Cave, rhp, Marlins
3. Reds: Nick Moran, rhp, Devil Rays

10:15 a.m.: Hamilton Speaks

Josh Hamilton is the story of the Rule 5, having been selected third overall in the major league phase by the Cubs, then traded to the Reds for cash considerations. Kudos to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays media contingent, who quickly found Hamilton on a cell phone, made their way to a speaker phone in the media room and set up a quick phone interview.

I got there late and didn’t catch the whole thing . . . but here are some key passages, as I heard them. Frankly, if this weren’t a blog, I would be double-checking these quotes, but it’s nothing earth-shattering.

Hamilton said he wasn’t upset or surprised to be made available.

“I hadn’t been out there the last three years,” said Hamilton, who served two years on a Major League Baseball-imposed drug-related suspension but played briefly at short-season Hudson Valley this season, going 13-for-50. His season there ended early due to a left knee injury, and Hamilton said the knee feels fine, though he said the best indication was when he dragged a deer out of the woods after a successful recent hunt.

“I think (a change of scenery) could help,” Hamilton said. “I’ll be a little nervous because it’s a new group of guys to get to know . . . “

The best tidbit from Hamilton’s interview came when he was asked about jumping from A-ball to the major leagues: “I’m not really concerned. Baseball has never been the problem . . . I’ve been working out, and I can guarantee I will be in the best shape of my life when spring training comes.”

Baseball hasn’t been the problem; everything else has been. Here’s hoping Hamilton takes advantage of his opportunity and finally gives us all a look at his prodigious talent.

–JM

10:38 a.m.: Minor League Musings

I used to cover college baseball, so many of these names in the minor league phase are still more associated with college teams in my head. I see Richard Lewis, I think Team USA 2000, when Lewis was in the infield, sharing time at second with Chris Burke, with Mark Teixeira at first, those guys also played some shortstop to back up Bobby Crosby for a Mike Gillespie-coached team that went 27-3-1.

Of course, Lewis has had some fine pro moments as well. He hit .329 with power at Double-A West Tenn in 2004, but he’s been at West Tenn since then, with 380 poor at-bats mixed in at Triple-A Iowa. He’s had injuries . . . there’s a reason he’s available in the Triple-A phase.

Justin Jones, same thing. Yes, he was a second-round pick in 2002 by the Cubs. Yes, he was once the No. 2 prospect in the Cubs system. However, the Twins had soured on him significantly, due to concerns about his makeup, his inability to stay in shape, his inability to maintain his mechanics, his inability to maintain his stuff . . . his inability to be a professional. There’s a reason he was available in the minor league phase. Still, he’s a lefthanded arm with potential to have plus stuff, so he’s a guy worth taking a chance on, especially for the Nats, who lost a lot of talent.

10:47 a.m.: Husky Homecoming

BA has learned that the Pirates have sold the rights to their pick, the No. 4 overall choice in the Rule 5 draft’s major league phase. Pittsburgh selected righthander Sean White from the Braves, and now the Mariners have purchased his rights for cash, though we have not learned the amount.

White pitched at the University of Washington, and he was the Huskies’ ace when he was healthy, going 15-6 his final two seasons. White was never quite as good as scouts hoped in college, and the same was true of his career with the Braves. One club official speaking after the Rule 5 said White’s susceptibility to the big inning, often caused by mechanical breakdowns, short-circuited his ability.

White spent most of 2006 in Double-A, going 5-6, 4.40 for Mississippi. He’s 28-25, 4.00 for his career with a modest 270-142 strikeout-walk ratio in 414 innings.

11:01: As They Come To Me

This blog is turning the Website into the BA newsroom; I’m just going to bore you all with college stories of these players and other random musings. If you’re lucky, I’ll throw in a Jim Callis impersonation.

• You know, just three picks in the Double-A phase, but Paul Moviel sounds interesting to me. He’s big–listed at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, and if you’re going to take a chance on a guy, why not someone who starts off looking the part? Second–he throws strikes, with a combined 156-49 strikeout-walk ratio the last two seasons in 153 innings. Third, he’s from an athletic family with baseball bloodlines. Paul’s younger brother Greg pitched at Vanderbilt and is now in the Mariners’ system; youngest brother Scott, a 6-foot-10 righthander, has committed to pitch at North Carolina State.

• Giants fans will recall that I was a huge Brian Buscher fan early in his career. The guy hit in junior college, hit in college at South Carolina (leading the Southeastern Conference at .393 in 2003) and then, well, hasn’t quite hit as a pro. Buscher’s never had huge power, or even average power, at third base. He’s a contact hitter and he’s a grinder who’s had injury issues. He played a full season at Double-A finally this season with just a .687 OPS. Still, the Twins drafted him in Triple-A phases’ second round; they are smarter than me, and most teams. He’s an odd choice for an organization with Matt Moses and David Winfree already in the organization at third base, though, and both those guys have more power. The Twins also like three third basemen they drafted in 2006 in Danny Valencia, Whitt Robbins and Garrett Olson. Could this signal an impending move to the outfield for Moses, whose defense and inconsistent bat have taken him from elite prospect to a possible suspect the last two seasons? Maybe it just means Buscher will play another position . . .

• The Orioles once had high hopes for Lorenzo Scott, whose name was announced incorrectly during the third round of the Triple-A phase as Scott Lorenzo by the Marlins when they selected him. They corrected themselves and get to keep the pick. Scott was a football player as well as baseball player at Ball State but hasn’t translated his athletic ability to production with the Orioles, hence his availability. Even though he’s listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Scott has hit just 10 homers in 866 professional at-bats. The 24-year-old did have his best season since his Rookie-level debut, hitting .258/.367/.353 in 2006 at low Class A Delmarva. He also stole 29 bases in 39 attempts. The Marlins always have liked athletes who need polish, and with the graduation of so many rookies to their big league roster last year, their farm system had holes to fill and room for a raw, toolsy player such as Scott. He might bear watching.

• OK, I cheated and went back in at 3 p.m. Thursday for one last blog item. The Nationals may have found a pretty useful piece in Levale Speigner, who had an interesting career at Auburn, including a 10-0 effort his senior season in a spot-start/middle relief role. He’s spent the last two years between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester, and the Twins liked his development. He’s added velocity since moving from starting to the bullpen and served as closer part-time at New Britain, pumping his fastball as high as 95 mph, though it typically sits more in the 89-94 range. He can be a strikeout pitcher when he throws his average curveball for strikes. It’s not a putaway pitch, but Speigner’s fastball and a small improvement in his control could make him a productive middle reliever.

That’s it for the Rule 5 blog; Chris Kline’s report on the Rule 5 will follow shortly. Thanks for coming out, and don’t forget more Rule 5 Fu tomorrow on the BA Podcast with Alan Matthews and Matt Meyers.

Minors | #2006 #Prospect Bulletin

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