Today at 12pm, General Managers from everything will have the ability to pluck talent from each others minor league system via the Rule 5 draft. The Rule 5 draft aims to prevent teams from stockpiling too many young players on their minor league affiliate teams when other teams would be willing to have them play in the majors.
Eligibility depends on the original signing dates of players when they were amateurs in high school or college. Players who were 18 years or younger on the June 5, 2010, or, 19 years or older on the June 5, 2011 are eligible for this year's draft. These group of players can be "protected" from the draft if their respective teams added them to the 40 man roster a few weeks ago.
The draft consist of 3 phases, a MLB phase, a AAA phase, and a AA phase. In the MLB phase, players who are eligible for the draft and are not on the 40 man roster are available for selection. If a team wants to select a player, they must have an open 40 man roster spot to place them on. The selecting team also needs to keep the selected player on the 25 man active roster for the entirety of the upcoming season. Failure to do so results in the player being returned to his original team, after he passes through waivers. Drafting teams must also pay $50,000 as compensation to the player's original team.
In the AAA phase, clubs have the ability to add talent to their AAA teams by selecting "unprotected" players on AA or lower rosters. Just like the MLB, minor league teams also have "reserve" rosters that are used to move players up and down through the system. This is why some prospects you would expect to be at a higher level, aren't there because they have not been added to a reserve roster. AAA teams can host 38 players on the reserve roster, AA teams can have 37, the remaining minor league affliates are limited to 35.
If a club makes a selection in the AAA phase, the player becomes permanent property of the selecting club. In return compensation of $12,000 must be paid to the player's original team. The only roster restriction for players selected in the AAA phase is that they must be added to the reserve roster only. If a drafted player fails to crack the ACTIVE roster during the 2015 season, the drafting club still retains his rights and does not have to return the player.
The AA phase has the same rules as the AAA phase. The only differences are, A) eligible players are from the A+ level or lower, and, B) the compensation cost is $4,000.
The MLB phase of the Rule 5 draft is generally only for show as most players selected are returned to their original clubs. In the entire history of the draft, only 1 player was ever drafted that went on to have a Hall of Fame career (Roberto Clemente).
That said, there have been a few hits every once in a while. José Bautista, Alfredo Simon, Jason Grilli, Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana, Joakim Soria, Dan Uggla, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, and R.A. Dickey were all former Rule 5 draftees who have had success in the MLB.
This year's crop of draft eligible players is certainly an interesting one. There are a number of unique players who could potential stick onto an MLB roster and contribute to a team's success:
(Courtesy of Baseball America)
Mark Canha, 1b, Marlins: with an above-average hit tool and average power, Canha can stick to an MLB as a back-up 1B, 3B, or even LF.
Edgar de la Rosa, rhp, Tigers: de la Rosa brings some serious heat to the table. The massive 6' 8" righty can crank it up to 100 mph at his best and pairs it with a usable changeup. Even though he's a minor league SP, he would fit in a big league bullpen.
Delino DeShields, of, Astros: despite being labeled as a "clubhouse problem" and "lazy" for not running out balls, DeShields still has the best tools in the Rule 5 draft. He is the only minor leaguer to ever hit 10 HR and steal bags in a season. DeShields could be an MLB teams starting CF.
Gregory Infante, rhp, Blue Jays: he's already made it to the majors once but was left unprotected this year. Infante struggles with control but still has a 97 mph fastball plus an average slider. He’s throwing well in the Venezuelan League for La Guaira.
Andrew McKirahan, lhp, Cubs: a full time reliever and former Tommy John recipient, Andrew brings plus velocity from the left side thanks to his 96 mph fastball. He mixes it with an average breaking ball as well.