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The history of the Rockies and the Rule 5 Draft

Patrick Lyons Avatar
December 13, 2018

LAS VEGAS – On Thursday, MLB teams with room on their 40-man roster will have an opportunity to pluck a player from another organization in the annual Rule 5 Draft with the hopes of finding a true diamond in the rough.

Though a much different version of the Rule 5 Draft has existed as far back as 1892, the 2018 variety no longer allows teams to uncover lesser known minor leaguers to immediately become valuable assets to the major league roster.

Not all minor league players are eligible for selection. Teams retain control over players for five years when signed at age 18 or younger and four years when signed at 19 or older.

So, while each organization may have multiple prospects with enticing upside, most are safe from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft.

Players selected in this draft must be active on the 25-man roster for 90 days; if the player doesn’t meet his new team’s expectation, he can be offered back to his original team or re-acquired through a trade.

Some notable players have been taken in the Rule 5 Draft, such as Hall of Famers Hack Wilson and Roberto Clemente under previous and much different rules, along with All-Stars Johan Santana, Dan Uggla and current Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera.

Though the Rockies have made nine selections in the Rule 5 Draft in their twenty-six seasons, five of those picks were either sent back to their original team and in one instance, they were allowed to keep Kevin Logsdon from the Cleveland Indians in 1994 and he played with Colorado’s AAA affiliate during the 1995 season.

Two of their nine selections were traded to another club: in 2015, right-handed pitcher Luis Perdomo was taken from the St. Louis Cardinal and traded to the San Diego Padres for cash; and in 2014, outfielder and first baseman Mark Canha was taken from the Florida Marlins and traded to the Oakland Athletics.

Only once have the Rockies selected a player in the Rule 5 Draft and kept that player for the duration of the season: left-handed reliever Tommy Kahnle in 2013.

Kahnle had finished his Double-A season with the New York Yankees affiliate Trenton Thunder and put up solid numbers, but his command was far from ideal, walking 45 batters in just 60 innings.

Colorado selected Kahnle fourth in the Rule 5 Draft that year and the three players taken before him would never come close to contributing to a major league team.

The first overall selection, Patrick Schuster, was sent back to his original club, but would eventually pitch 8.2 innings in 2016; next came Adrian Nieto, who played in just forty-eight games in 2014 for the Chicago White Sox and has yet to return to the majors; and Kevin Munson, selected just one pick ahead of Kahnle, has yet to play in the major leagues.

Kahnle would have a serviceable two season with the Rockies before being dealt to the White Sox. The significance of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft is still being felt by the organization today, as the player acquired from Chicago is current 24-year-old pitcher Yency Almonte.

When it comes to losing players from their organization in the Rule 5 Draft, Colorado hasn’t been nearly as fortunate.

The first player ever taken from the Rockies was former infielder and current AT&T Sportsnet broadcaster Jeff Huson.

Huson signed a minor league with Colorado and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners to compete for a spot on their bench, which he would earn, playing in 31 games for the M’s in 1998.

In the years that followed, nine more Rockies players were taken by other teams in the Rule 5 Draft, most notably shortstop Everth Cabrera in 2008, who was an All-Star for the San Diego Padres in 2013, and right-handed reliever Dan Winkler in 2014, who just completed his first full-season with the Atlanta Braves after rehabbing through his a second elbow surgery.

Last year, 22-year-old Asheville Tourists right-hander Julian Fernandez was selected by the San Francisco Giants before succumbing to ulner collateral ligament surgery in Spring Training. He was selected off waivers by the Miami Marlins in November where he remains on their 40-man roster.

Upwards of fifty current Rockies minor leaguers are available for all teams with an open 40-man roster spot to select, but those with the greatest likelihood of being selected are pitchers Logan Cozart, Breiling Eusebio, Jordan Foley, Alexander Guillen, Mitch Horacek, Matt Pierpoint, catcher Dom Nunez, first basemen Brian Mundell and Roberto Ramos, and outfielder Wes Rogers.

If the Rockies are going to use their open roster spot – the 40-man currently has 39 players – it might be with an eye on a young left-handed pitcher that has favorable statistics against left-handed hitters, much like Kahnle in 2013.

One interesting wrinkle in the Rule 5 Draft is the minor league portion. This phase of the draft is for players not even on a 38-man Triple-A reserve roster, so talent is even harder to find.

Current major leaguers such as free agent and first baseman Justin Bour and the Mariners catcher Omar Narvaez were taken in minor league Rule 5 Draft.

Two Rockies minor leaguers selected by other clubs in this phase that went on to have respectable careers at the highest level of their sport: outfielder-turned-pitcher Jorge Sosa and outfielder-turned-quarterback Russell Wilson.


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