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Dodgers' Next-Level Cleverness, Plus Other Minor League Rule 5 Draft Takeaways

Editor's Note: The original team for Tyler Gilbert has been corrected. We apologize for the error.

A few quick thoughts on the MiLB Rule 5 draft.

1. Some familiar stars of the MiLB phase were left on the sidelines.

Because there was no MLB phase of the Rule 5 draft before the MiLB phase, there were five teams with full 38-man Triple-A rosters. That meant those five teams had to sit out the MiLB Rule 5 draft. If there had been an MLB phase, it’s possible that MLB Rule 5 picks (which almost always are plucked off Triple-A rosters) would have freed up spots for those teams to pick.

Why is that important? Because a couple of the teams with full rosters are among the teams that use the Rule 5 draft the best. The D-backs drafted Dodgers righthander Tyler Gilbert in last year’s MiLB phase of the Rule 5 draft. He threw a no-hitter and was one of the best Rule 5 picks of last year—outperforming most of the MLB Rule 5 picks.

The Rays were also stuck with a full roster. A couple of years ago, Tampa Bay found righthander Ryan Thompson in the MiLB phase of the Rule 5 draft. Thompson ended up becoming a valuable part of the Rays bullpen, earning a spot on their playoff roster in 2020.

2. The Dodgers pulled off some next-level cleverness.

With their second-round pick, the Dodgers selected RHP Carson Fulmer. Fulmer was sitting on the Reds Double-A roster, having been outrighted last season. A round later, the Dodgers selected RHP Jon Duplantier off the Giants roster. Duplantier had signed a minor league contract with the Giants on Dec. 3. But because he was assigned to Double-A Richmond, he was MiLB Rule 5 eligible.

Fulmer has been a disappointment so far in his MLB career. The sixth pick in the 2015 draft, he reached the majors in 2016 and has spent at least some time on an MLB roster every year since. But he’s never established himself, which explains why he has just 130 innings in six MLB seasons.

Injuries have so far derailed the career of Duplantier, a one-time top D-backs prospect. Neither is by any measure a sure-fire big leaguer in 2022. But both are the type of players teams tend to sign to MiLB contracts with an invite to spring training. The Dodgers just picked up two of those potential depth pieces in one MiLB Rule 5 draft.

It should be noted that the Braves may have done something similar by picking first baseman John Nogowski off the Giants Double-A roster. No one is suggesting that Nogowski is going to replace Freddie Freeman, but he does provide the Braves with a first baseman with limited MLB experience, something the team utterly lacked heading into the lockout.

3. The Giants and Padres were raided

San Francisco led all teams with six of its players being selected in the MiLB Rule 5 draft. The Padres were second with five. The Rangers and Royals each had four players selected. At the other end of the spectrum, there were six teams that had no one picked: the Angels, Nationals, Orioles, Phillies, Red Sox and White Sox.

The Nationals, Orioles and Red Sox have not had a player taken in the MiLB Rule 5 phase in back-to-back years.

4. It’s all about pitching

Of the 52 players selected, 35 (69%) were pitchers, with 26 righthanders and nine lefthanders being picked. There were eight outfielders selected, six middle infielders, one first baseman and one catcher. Normally, catchers are more popular in the minor league Rule 5 draft—last year seven were selected, the most of any non-pitcher position.

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