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Rule 5 Draft Update: See Which Players Are Sticking On MLB Rosters

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Richie Martin (Photo by Cliff Welch)

With Opening Day just three days away, here’s a look at how the 14 MLB Rule 5 picks from the 2018 draft have fared so far.

As of noon on March 25, four of the 14 picks have already been sent back to their original team. Any of the remaining 10 players must remain on the 25-man roster (or the injured list) for Opening Day and then be carried on the big league roster all season.

If the Rule 5 pick is dropped from the major league roster they must be placed on waivers, giving other MLB teams the option of claiming the player under the same Rule 5 roster restrictions (carried on the MLB roster all season). If the player goes unpicked, they are then offered back to their original team—the team that picked the player gets back $50,000 of the $100,000 they originally paid to draft the player if the original team takes him back.

1. Orioles — Richie Martin, SS (from Athletics)
After a fast start this spring, Martin slumped and is hitting only .208/.269/.313. But after the Orioles released Alcides Escobar, Martin’s only real competition for the starting shortstop job is the Orioles' other Rule 5 pick Drew Jackson.

2. Royals — Sam McWilliams, RHP (from Rays) – RETURNED
The Royals have offered McWilliams back to the Rays after he struggled, going 1-1, 15.43 with eight hits and six walks in only 4.2 innings.

3. Rangers — Jordan Romano, RHP (from Blue Jays) – RETURNED
Romano pitched reasonably effectively, posting a 3.86 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP with six strikeouts in 9.1 innings, but the Rangers have sent him back to the Blue Jays.

4. Marlins — Riley Ferrell, RHP (from Astros) – INJURED
Bicep tendinitis means that Ferrell will begin the season on the injured list, but he showed flashes of dominant stuff to go with wildness before the injury. Ferrell struck out 10 (while walking five and allowing five hits) in 6.2 innings.

5. Tigers — Reed Garrett, RHP (from Rangers)
Garrett is making a strong case for a spot in the rebuilding Tigers’ bullpen. He’s shown a swing-and-miss splitter to go with a mid-90s fastball that helped him strikeout 11 hitters in 10.1 innings. Garrett has given up 10 hits and seven walks this spring, but his promise may be enough for a team with plenty of roster holes.

6. Reds — Connor Joe, C (from Dodgers)
Joe looks ready to make a big league roster, but it’s not going to be Cincinnati’s. The Reds traded Joe to the Giants last week in exchange for reliever Jordan Johnson. Joe has played first, second and third base as well as left field this spring and is hitting .240/.309/.380. Joe hasn’t cemented a spot on the Giants’ roster, but with a rebuilding club, his path to a big league role seems relatively set as a backup outfielder/infielder with plenty of versatility to go with a decent bat.

7. Royals — Chris Ellis, RHP (from Cardinals)
After a slow start, Ellis has pitched reasonably effectively out of the bullpen for the Royals and is in the mix for one of the final spots in the team’s bullpen. He’s posted a 9.00 ERA overall this spring, but nine of those 10 runs came in his first two outings. Since then, he’s allowed five hits and one earned run in six innings while striking out seven and walking three.

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Ranking The 2018 Rule 5 Draft's Top Unpicked Players

The 2018 Rule 5 draft has largely proved to be a dud, but there were some very productive players who went unpicked.

8. Giants — Travis Bergen, LHP (from Blue Jays)
Bergen has done everything he can to earn a job with San Francisco. He didn’t allow a run in his first eight spring appearances and still sports a sparkling 1.69 ERA and 13-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 10.2 innings. He’s a lefthander who has shown he can get righthanders out, which is important with looming rules changes on the horizon.

9. Blue Jays — Elvis Luciano, RHP (from Royals)
Luciano was known to be far away from being big league ready when the Blue Jays picked him. He was available because his contract was renegotiated after he signed with the D-Backs. That meant he was immediately eligible for the Rule 5 draft far before his signing class reached Rule 5 eligibility. Having not pitched in full season ball before, he’s shown he’s not really ready. He’s allowed 13 hits and an 11.42 ERA in 8.2 innings with eight walks and 10 strikeouts. He failed to get an out in one outing and has allowed runs in five of his 10 appearances. But the Blue Jays are rebuilding, so they may keep him around, knowing the 19-year-old offers long-term potential.

10. Mets — Kyle Dowdy, RHP (from Indians)
Results-wise, Dowdy shouldn’t make the Mets' bullpen, but the club has been impressed enough with his mid-90s fastball and varied arsenal to consider keeping him around despite a 5.56 ERA and a 7-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Dowdy has pitched better lately, allowing one run in seven innings while striking out six in his last two appearances.

11. Orioles — Drew Jackson, SS (from Dodgers)
Jackson has done everything he can to earn a roster spot. He’s hitting .327/.367/.400 while playing second and third base, shortstop and all three outfield spots. The Orioles are likely to keep him as a versatile utilityman.

12. Diamondbacks — Nick Green, RHP (from Yankees) – RETURNED
The D-backs sent Green back to the Yankees on Sunday. He walked 11 while striking out eight and 13.1 innings.

13. Mariners — Brandon Brennan, RHP (from Rockies)
Brennan has already made the MLB roster, as he pitched for the Mariners during the team’s Japan Series against the A’s and got a double-play ball to get out of an inning in a tie game. Brennan was on the 28-man roster, so he still has to survive the cutdown to the regular 25-man roster for the rest of the season.

14. Giants — Drew Ferguson, OF (from Astros) – RETURNED
Ferguson was placed on waivers when the Giants acquired Joe, another Rule 5 pick, from the Reds. He has since cleared waivers and been sent back to the Astros.

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