When it comes to the Rule 5 Draft, the Phillies have had solid levels of success. In December 2004, the Phillies selected Shane Victorino from the Dodgers organization in the Rule 5 Draft. Victorino would go on to become the most accomplished position player to ever come from Hawaii. He went to 2 All-Star Games, won 3 Gold Gloves, batted .279 with the Phillies, and stole 179 bases.
More recently, the Phillies selected *NAME REDACTED* in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft from the Texas Rangers. He’s batted .276 with the Phillies and was their lone All-Star in 2016.
Before 2020, it is no secret that the Phillies have holes to fill. Usually, it’s hard finding space for a Rule 5 pick on a 25-man roster, BUT MLB has blessed all 30 teams with a 26th roster spot going forward.
This could give the Phillies the option of picking out a lucky lottery ticket and seeing if they won the jackpot. I’ll list potential Rule 5 picks by position, mostly looking at relievers and third basemen with a couple of others sprinkled in.
Mikael Franco will not return in 2020 unless the Phillies have a huge change of heart. If they don’t feel confident in Alec Bohm yet, then they’ll need a stopgap.
Instead of shelling out much-needed cap space for a Moustakas or Donaldson, why not take a flyer on one of these guys.
If you don’t mind a hit of defense but would like a sizable bat in your lineup, then Jose Rojas is just the guy for you!
Rojas has hit at every level of the minors. In 4 seasons, he’s slashed .292/.350/.502 and at 26-years-old he’s 100% ready to get a big-league look. At AAA Salt Lake last year, he hit 39 doubles and 31 homers in 126 games.
He can also play 2nd base, 1st base, and a little outfield. Granted, he’s not above average defensively at any of those positions. Even third base has been an adventure with a .932 fielding percentage in 200 games.
That bat sure is tempting though.
Hailing from the San Diego Padres system, Jason Vosler had a great season last year at AAA. At El Paso, Vosler slashed .291/.367/.523 with 20 home runs. Another check in the plus column would be that Vosler is a New Jersey product (Although, closer to NY than PA).
Beyond 2019, there’s not much to look at with Vosler. The highest batting average he recorded before last season was .266 at low A. He’s also struck out over 100 times each of the last 3 seasons.
Vosler has some potential, but may not be super tempting.
Our last entry for 3rd basemen is the only ranked prospect of the bunch. Christian Santana is currently ranked #23 in the Dodgers’ organization by MLB.com.
Santana has shown good hitting ability at every level. His lowest batting average was .274 in high A. In his age 22 season at AA, Santana slashed .301/.320/.436.
You might have already spotted Santana’s biggest drawback. He hardly takes walks. His highest total of walks in any season has been 20. He also has a strong arm at 3rd, but can sometimes be inaccurate.
Santana would certainly be an interesting question mark for the Phillies.
The Phillies saw more than an entire bullpen’s worth of players go down with injuries last season. Why not carry an extra arm as the 26th man?
Here are several names that the Phillies should check in on.
Reid Humphreys comes in as the Rockies #19 prospect according to MLB.com. Humphreys may not even get selected in the Rule 5 Draft because of his lack of time playing in the higher minors.
Humphreys has one very attractive aspect, however: His arm.
The dude has a freakishly good fastball that sits around 95-99. He pairs that with a +cutter (grade 60) and a decent slider (grade 50). A shoulder injury cost him most of the season in 2019.
The Phillies should give the 25-year-old a look in Spring Training and if they like what they see, keep him around. You can never have too many power arms in the pen.
No one and I mean NO ONE was effected more by the juiced ball last year than Zac Houston. Let’s take a look at his ERA level by level, year by year.
2016: split between A- and A ERA: 0.30 2017: split between A and A+ ERA: 2.17 2018: split between AA and AAA ERA: 1.63 2019: Half in AA ERA: 2.72 in 39.2 IP
And then 2019 at AAA happened. Houston had a 10.00 ERA in 18 IP with 18 hits allowed and 14 walks issued.
Let’s ignore that for a second. Houston is 6′ 5″ and throws his fastball at 92-95 regularly with an evolving curveball to match. In 4 years in the minors, Houston has a strikeout rate of 12.9 K/9.
With a little more control and a regular ball, Houston would be a no-brainer for the Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft.
Have you always wished the Phillies could steal a prospect from right under the Atlanta Braves’ noses? Then boy, do I have a pick for you.
Thomas Burrows is currently ranked as the #16 top prospect in the Braves’ system. He’s a lefty with a decent fastball, but with a slider to die for.
His 2019 wasn’t fantastic as he too faced the juiced ball in AAA. In 36 IP, Burrows posted a 4.75 ERA. In comparison, Burrows has a minors ERA of 2.96. He also shined in the AZFL against other prospects in 2018, posting a 2.25 ERA.
MLB.com describes his floor and ceiling as such, “At the very least, he’s a left-handed specialist. At the top end, he’s a seventh-inning type reliever, with an Eric O’Flaherty career path.”
Another solid option for the Phillies.
The rest encompasses every other position as there weren’t many middle infielders, catchers, or outfielders available.
Ka’ai Tom OF
Remember how I talked about Shane Victorino being selected in the Rule 5 Draft and becoming the greatest Hawaiian position player?
Guess who else is a Hawaiian outfielder who could be selected in the Rule 5 Draft? If you guessed me, you’re really bad at context clues. If you guessed Ka’ai Tom, congratulations you’re correct.
Tom took a leap forward in 2019. He started at AA Akron where he slashed .285/.386/.512. There, he set a new personal record for home runs with 14. That was only in 81 games before his AAA promotion. In Columbus, Tom added 9 more homers while slashing .298/.370/.564.
If you want a lot of Victorino mentions during your Phillies broadcast, then Ka’ai Tom is awe-some.
Brett Cumberland C
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of Andrew Knapp. Knapp has exactly 0.0 WAR in his time in Philadelphia and has only hit .204 the last 2 seasons.
So here’s a novel idea: draft a catcher in the Rule 5 Draft! JT Realmuto has said multiple times that he doesn’t want to rest, so most days he’ll be the backstop.
Brett Cumberland is a switch-hitting bat-first catcher. MLB.com ranks Cumberland as the Orioles #29 prospect. He grades at a 50 for power, so he can provide pop off the bench. Similarly to Knapp, he has a high walk rate. His OBP is routinely at least 100 points higher than his average. He owns a career .376 OBP in the minors.
Eli White UTL
The Phillies love players who can play multiple positions. With that in mind, Eli White could fit the bill perfectly.
White offers a little bit of everything. In 4 seasons, White has hit .277 through 4 levels of the minors. He also has shown decent speed, stealing at least 12 bags every year. He’s shown an increase in power every year, going from 2 to 4 to 9 to 14 home runs.
MLB.com ranks him as the Rangers’ #30 prospect with his highest grade being a 60 for his speed. He ranks average to above average in hitting, arm strength, and fielding. His power is below average at a 40 grade.
White’s biggest negative would be his strikeouts. He’s struck out 440 times in 426 minor league games.
Who will the Phillies select? Will the Phillies pick anyone? We’ll find out on December 12th at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.