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All you need to know about today's Rule 5 Draft

December 13, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- Every year, the Winter Meetings unofficially conclude with the Rule 5 Draft. It might not be the headline-grabber of a blockbuster trade or free-agent signing, but every year, teams do find talent via this avenue. And recent history shows that many of the players selected are coming

LAS VEGAS -- Every year, the Winter Meetings unofficially conclude with the Rule 5 Draft. It might not be the headline-grabber of a blockbuster trade or free-agent signing, but every year, teams do find talent via this avenue. And recent history shows that many of the players selected are coming to a big league stadium near you next season.
This year's Rule 5 Draft takes place in Las Vegas today at noon ET, with a live audio stream on MLB.com. By virtue of finishing with the worst record in baseball in 2018, the Orioles get the first pick, followed by the Royals and White Sox.
:: 2018 Rule 5 Draft coverage ::
There are hundreds of eligible players, and teams are going through those lists and scouring past reports, as well as any from the Arizona Fall League or winter ball, to help determine whether they want to make any selections.
The Draft order
Below is this year's Rule 5 Draft order, based on the reverse order of the 2018 regular-season standings. A team must have room on its 40-man roster to make a pick, so each team's 40-man status is noted in parentheses.
2018 Rule 5 Draft order
Names to watch
As the Draft approached, several names were being mentioned as potential picks in the Major League phase. A's shortstop Richie Martin and Twins lefty Tyler Jay, two first round picks in the 2015 Draft, have come up often in conversations, though not necessarily in the Orioles' top spot.
How it works
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 Draft process. Players signed at age 19 or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.
For this year, that means an international or high school Draft pick signed in 2014 -- assuming he was 18 or younger as of June 5 of that year -- has to be protected. A college player taken in the '15 Draft is in the same position.
The success rate of the Major League phase has gone up over the past four years. In that period, 42 of the 66 players taken in this phase have seen big league time with the team that acquired them. Some have attributed this to the rise of advanced analytics, which allow teams to know more about players who previously seemed more like needles in a haystack.
There is also a Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, with the costs rising from $12,000 to $24,000 for a Triple-A pick (anyone not protected on a big league or Triple-A roster is eligible). The Double-A phase has been eliminated. Players selected in this portion of the Rule 5 Draft aren't subject to any roster restrictions with their new organizations.
Recent gems
There were 18 players taken in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft last year, and 11 of them saw time in the big leagues with the team that drafted them or traded for them immediately following the draft. Another three players made it to MLB after they were sent back to their original team. In 2016, 18 players were taken, and 10 spent time in the big leagues.
Of last year's group, Brad Keller had the most success with the Royals, finishing with a Wins Above Replacement of 3.6, the only positive tally in that statistical category among the 11 who played in the big leagues in 2018. It's one of the best rookie seasons for a Rule 5 pick in recent memory. It's right up there with Odubel Herrera's rookie campaign with the Phillies in '15. The outfielder compiled a 4.0 WAR that year, made the All-Star team in '16 and signed a five-year, $30.5 million extension with the Phillies almost two years to the day after being taken in the Rule 5 Draft. He's been a big league regular for four seasons now.
Other recent success stories include reliever Joe Biagini, who landed on the Blue Jays' postseason roster in 2016 after a solid first year in the big leagues, and Matt Bowman, who had a strong '16 campaign after his Rule 5 Draft selection in '15.
All-time best picks
The way the Rule 5 Draft works has changed over time. So while everyone's all-time list would undeniably start with Roberto Clemente, it's almost as if a "modern era" type qualifier is needed. Looking at 1990 through last year, here's how Rule 5 Draft picks line up in a top five, ranked by career WAR.
1. Johan Santana, LHP, 50.7

  1. Shane Victorino, OF, 31.2
  2. Josh Hamilton, OF, 28.1
  3. Dan Uggla, 2B, 17.5
  4. Joakim Soria, RHP, 17.5
    Keep an eye on Herrera, though. He's at 10.7 WAR already after four years. And Keller's rookie WAR was better than anyone on this list.
    Top available prospects
    There are 78 players on teams' Top 30 Prospects lists who were not protected and are thus eligible to be selected and given the chance to stick on a 25-man roster. There are nine first-round picks from the 2014 and '15 Drafts available this year, led by '14 No. 2 overall pick Tyler Kolek, the Marlins right-hander who returned from Tommy John surgery at the end of '18. Jay, who was taken No. 6 overall by the Twins out of the University of Illinois, is the highest-drafted player from '15 who is available to teams on Thursday.
    30 intriguing Rule 5 prospects
    Here's a list of all 30 teams' Top 30 Prospects who are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft:
    Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. Marcus Wilson, OF
  6. Alex Young, LHP
  7. Cody Reed, LHP
    Atlanta Braves
  8. Travis Demeritte, OF
  9. Josh Graham, RHP
    Baltimore Orioles
  10. Luis Gonzalez, LHP
    Boston Red Sox
  11. Josh Ockimey, 1B
  12. Jhonathan Diaz, LHP
  13. Roldani Baldwin, C
  14. Roniel Raudes, RHP
    Chicago Cubs
  15. Trevor Clifton, RHP
  16. Jhonny Pereda, C
  17. Erling Moreno, RHP
    Chicago White Sox
  18. Spencer Adams, RHP
    Cincinnati Reds 
  19. Michael Beltre, OF
    Cleveland Indians 
  20. Oscar Gonzalez, OF
    Colorado Rockies
  21. Breiling Eusebio, LHP
  22. Roberto Ramos, 1B
  23. Brian Mundell, 1B
  24. Dom Nunez, C
    Detroit Tigers
  25. Jose Azocar, OF
  26. Tyler Alexander, LHP
  27. Derek Hill, OF
    Houston Astros
  28. Riley Ferrell, RHP
  29. Jonathan Arauz, SS
    Kansas City Royals
  30. Elvis Luciano, RHP
  31. D.J. Burt, SS
  32. Foster Griffin, LHP
  33. Ofreidy Gomez, RHP
    Los Angeles Angels
  34. Leonardo Rivas, SS
  35. Luis Pena, RHP
  36. Joe Gatto, RHP
    Los Angeles Dodgers
  37. Drew Jackson, SS
  38. Cristian Santana, SS
  39. Andrew Sopko, RHP
    Miami Marlins
  40. Christopher Torres, SS
  41. Brayan Hernandez, CF
  42. McKenzie Mills, LHP
    Milwaukee Brewers
  43. Jake Gatewood, 1B
  44. Cody Ponce, RHP
  45. Carlos Herrera, RHP
    Minnesota Twins
  46. Lewin Diaz, RF
  47. Tyler Jay, LHP
    New York Mets
  48. Luis Carpio, SS
  49. David Thompson, 3B
  50. Ali Sanchez, C
  51. Patrick Mazeika, C
    New York Yankees
  52. Dermis Garcia, 1B/3B
    Oakland A's
  53. Richie Martin, SS
  54. James Naile, RHP
    Philadelphia Phillies
  55. Daniel Brito, SS
  56. Jose Gomez, SS
  57. Tom Eshelman, RHP
    Pittsburgh Pirates
  58. Gage Hinsz, RHP
  59. Brandon Waddell, LHP
  60. Domingo Robles, LHP
    San Diego Padres
    None
    San Francisco Giants
  61. Sandro Fabian, OF
  62. Juan De Paula, RHP
  63. Jordan Johnson, RHP
    Seattle Mariners
  64. Art Warren, RHP
  65. Rob Whalen, RHP
  66. Ian Miller, OF
  67. Anthony Jimenez, OF
  68. Luis Liberato, OF
  69. Ronald Rosario, OF
  70. Anthony Misiewicz, LHP
    St. Louis Cardinals
  71. Max Schrock, 2B
  72. Junior Fernandez, RHP
  73. Wadye Ynfante, OF
    Tampa Bay Rays
    None
    Texas Rangers
  74. Pedro Gonzalez, OF
  75. Edgar Arredondo, RHP
    Toronto Blue Jays
  76. Forrest Wall, OF
  77. Jordan Romano, RHP
    Washington Nationals
  78. Telmito Agustin, OF
  79. Tomas Alastre, RHP
  80. Jose Marmolejos, 1B/OF
  81. Drew Ward, 3B/1B

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.