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Nine First-Round Picks Left Unprotected In First Year Of Rule 5 Eligibility

Tyler Kolek, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft and the highest drafted player from that draft to sign, will be available in the Rule 5 draft as the Marlins opted not to add him to the 40-man roster.

The 40-man roster deadline is an acid test for teams when it comes to evaluating drafts from four or five years ago. If a team leaves its first round pick unprotected in that player’s first year of Rule 5 eligibility, it’s a pretty clear sign that things have not worked out as planned.

There are nine first-round picks from 2014 and 2015 who will be available to be picked in the 2018 Rule 5 draft on Dec. 13.

Tigers outfielder Derek Hill, Royals lefthander Foster Griffin and Braves outfielder Braxton Davidson are the other 2014 high school first-round picks who were left unprotected in their first year of Rule 5 eligibility. That’s 27 percent of all Rule 5 eligible prep picks from the 2014 first round who teams opted to leave off of their 40-man rosters.

Twins lefthander Tyler Jay, Brewers righthander Phil Bickford (a Giants first-round pick), Athletics shortstop Richie Martin, Yankees shortstop Kyle Holder and Blue Jays righthander Jon Harris were the five college first round picks from 2015 who will be Rule 5 eligible. That means that 27 percent of all eligible 2015 first-round picks were left unprotected.

Kolek’s velocity immediately backed up upon signing as the 100 mph fastball he showed in high school often sat at 91-93 mph when he was put on a five-day schedule. He then injured his elbow ligament and needed Tommy John surgery. Upon returning, he has battled control troubles.

The hit rate on the 2014 supplemental first round is even worse. There were four prep players picked that year in the supplemental first round and all four (the Rockies’ Forrest Wall, the Marlins’ Blake Anderson, the Royals’ Chase Vallot and the Brewers’ Jake Gatewood) will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Nathan Kirby, the lone supplemental first round pick from 2015 who needed to be added to a 40-man roster, was also left unprotected.

That Marlins 2014 draft will not be remembered fondly by Marlins fans. The Marlins picked second overall and also had supplemental first and third round picks that year. The club handed out $200,000-plus bonuses to 13 different draftees. But only two of those 13 (Brian Anderson and Jordan Holloway) are on the 40-man roster.

In fact, those are the only two players from that draft who are on the club’s major league roster. The club spent more than $11 million on high school picks that year, but only protected Holloway, a 20th-round pick who signed for $400,000. Every other player from that draft is either out of the organization or will be Rule 5 eligible.

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