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2021 Could Be A Historically Good Year For Rule 5 Draft Picks



If Opening Day rosters are any indication, this is shaping up to be a historically good year for Rule 5 draftees.

Coming off a 2020 Rule 5 Draft that saw 18 major league picks, tied for the most MLB picks since 2010’s 19 selections, 14 of this past draft’s MLB picks have made it through spring training and onto Opening Day rosters. Two of those picks are on the injured list. The other 12 are on active rosters.

That’s quite notable as it is far beyond the number of Rule 5 picks that have stuck in any recent season.

On MLB Rosters
PickTeamPlayerPositionPrev. Team
1PiratesJose SorianoRHPAngels
2RangersBrett de GeusRHPDodgers
3TigersAkil BaddooOFTwins
4Red SoxGarrett WhitlockRHPYankees
5OriolesMac ScerolerRHPReds
6MarlinsZach PopRHPOrioles
7RockiesJordan SheffieldRHPDodgers
9PiratesLuis OviedoRHPIndians
10MarinersWill VestRHPTigers
12GiantsDedniel NunezRHPMets
13MarlinsPaul CampbellRHPRays
15IndiansTrevor StephanRHPYankees
16AthleticsKa'ai TomOFIndians
17OriolesTyler WellsRHPTwins
Returned To Original Team
PickTeamPlayerPositionPrev. Team
8AngelsJose Alberto RiveraRHPAstros
11RedsKyle HolderSSYankees
14CubsGray FenterRHPOrioles

Over the previous 10 Rule 5 drafts, 2014 (10) is the only time that a Rule 5 draft produced half that many players who fulfilled the Rule 5 eligibility requirements. Last year, even with a shortened 60-game season only four Rule 5 picks stuck to fulfill their eligibility requirements.

Three picks stuck through the 2019 season and six did so in 2018. Since 2011, on average 5.3 players have stuck per year.

If you need an explainer, the Rule 5 draft is held every December. Anyone on an MLB team’s 40-man roster is ineligible to be selected. But anyone else in an organization who has been a professional for a specified period of time (generally four seasons for college players and five seasons for high school and international signees) is eligible to be selected. A team picking a player in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft must carry that player on the MLB roster all of the next season. The player cannot be optioned to the minors without being placed on waivers (and offered back to their original team if they are unclaimed). They can be placed on the injured list, but a player must spend 90 days on the active roster to fulfill the Rule 5 requirements even if that stretches into multiple years.

So making the Opening Day roster is no guarantee that all 14 of these Rule 5 picks will remain with their new teams. Some may fail to live up to expectations. Others may simply get caught in a numbers game when a team needs some roster flexibility.

But the largest amount of attrition takes place during spring training as many players get offered back before the regular season ever begins. Players show up to spring training and fail to entice a team to consider putting them on the regular season active roster.

More than a dozen players have cleared that significant hurdle. Two of them are likely on the injured list for quite a while with significant injuries, but the other 12 have a chance now to stick around.

Akil Baddoo (Douglas P. Defelice/Getty)

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