Rule 5 Preview: Part I

The first installment of our Rule 5 draft preview





The Rule 5 draft isn't what it used to be. Ever since Major League Baseball changed the rules before the 2007 draft, giving teams an extra year of protection for players, the success stories have become rare.

The Orioles picked Ryan Flaherty from the Cubs in 2011 and he started for the team in the playoffs, the first Rule 5 pick to do so in his protection year since 1995. Other successful picks under the new rules include Scott Diamond (2010) and Evan Meek (2007), though both of the teams picking those players sent compensation to the previous organization to retain the player's rights.

The 2012 Rule 5 draft takes place Dec. 6. Here are 10 players who could hear their name called in the draft and five who were interesting additions to their team's 40-man roster.

Jesus Aguilar, 1b, Indians: A 2012 Futures Gamer and the Indians' No. 9 prospect, the 257-pounder finished the year in Double-A and has big raw power. He's limited to first defensively and dropped from 23 home runs in 2011 to 15 in 2012.

Ryan Chaffee, rhp, Angels: The Angels left Chaffee unprotected last year, but he's more likely to be taken this year, as his stuff took a leap. His fastball now sits in the 94-96 mph range with good life and he throws a slider that shows flashes of being a plus pitch.

Josh Fields, rhp, Red Sox: Fields, 27, has battled control throughout his career, but in 2012 he improved his delivery, regained his velocity (up to 97 mph) and sharpened his power curveball. His Triple-A experience and newfound success (78-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2012) make him a likely selection.

Randy Henry, rhp, Rangers: Henry dominated in 2012 when pitching out of the bullpen (0.98 ERA at high Class A Myrtle Beach). He faltered in a mid-season move to the rotation. With a 91-93 mph fastball with cutting action and an average slider and changeup, he could fit in a big league bullpen.

Jon Keck, lhp, Royals:
Keck started pitching as a college junior. He has a big arm (91-96 mph fastball) but his secondary stuff is still raw and he struggles to throw strikes.

Marc Krauss, of/1B, Astros: Krauss has a solid lefthanded bat with the ability to hit for average and power. Overall in 2012, the 2009 second-round pick hit .271/.397/.491 with 31 doubles and 20 home runs. He's a poor but versatile defender at the corner spots.

Braulio Lara, lhp, Rays: From a pure scouting standpoint, Lara has the biggest upside on this list. He has a lean, athletic build and an easy delivery producing a mid-90s fastball with good life. He also has a hard, downer curveball in the upper 70s but went just 6-10, 5.71 in high Class A in 2012.

Chris McGuiness, 1b, Rangers: The 2012 Arizona Fall League MVP, McGuiness has shown consistent on-base skills to go with good power. With a full season in Double-A under his belt to go with his AFL, McGuiness is one of the more polished bats available.

Juan Sosa, rhp, Phillies: He's yet to pitch above Class A but Sosa has some of the best stuff among Rule 5 eligibles with a 92-96 mph fastball and a curve that flashes plus.

Coty Woods, rhp, Rockies:
Woods throws from a low, sidearm slot that gives a little extra deception and life to his 89-92 mph fastball. He has a big-breaking, upper 70s slider and a decent changeup. Woods pitched well in the AFL (3.18 ERA in 11 IP).

They Were Protected?

Alex Hassan, of, Red Sox:
Athletic and patient (.391 career OBP), the former Duke two-way player profiles more as a fourth outfielder with solid speed and a plus arm.

Dixon Machado, ss, Tigers: Perhaps sensitive to losing another light-hitting, slick-fielding shortstop in last year's Rule 5 draft (Gustavo Nunez), the Tigers added Machado, who hit .195/.283/.252 in 490 PA for high Class A Lakeland.

Yorman Rodriguez, rf, Reds:
The Reds lavished $2.5 million on Rodriguez in 2008. Plus raw power and arm strength still intrigue scouts, but a lack of effort and performance (.247/.294/.381 in 167 games at the Class A level) frustrate them just as much.

Kyle Skipworth, c, Marlins:
Amateur scouts saw shades of Joe Mauer when evaluating Skipworth for the 2008 draft, and the Marlins took him sixth overall. He hit 21 homers in 2012, so despite a .219/.282/.377 state line, scouts still see Joe Backup potential.

Michael Ynoa, rhp, Athletics: Oakland made a splash in 2008 by signing the heralded Dominican righty for $4.25 million, a record bonus amount for an international amateur at the time. Four and a half years later, Ynoa has missed two entire season (2009, 2011), has had Tommy John surgery, has yet to pitch above the short-season New York-Penn League and has racked up a 6.13 ERA over a scant 40 pro innings.