Rule 5 Draft picks that can have an impact on their new team

Most Rule 5 draftees never make it in the big leagues, but these four players can prove to be an exception.

The Rule 5 Draft, held on Thursday at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meeting in Las Vegas, is a chance for teams to find young prospects that can turn into future stars.

Any team with an open spot on their 40-man roster can make a pick among players left unprotected by other teams. The player must remain on their new team’s 25-man roster during the following season, or be offered back to their previous team for $50,000.

Players picked in the Rule 5 Draft are usually Minor Leagues who never make an impact in the Majors. There have been exceptions, however. Most notably, in 1954 the Pittsburgh Pirates grabbed a 20-year-old outfielder named Roberto Clemente from the Brooklyn Dodgers. Two-time All-Star Shane Victorino was picked twice in the Rule 5 Draft, while the Florida Marlins picked future Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana in 1999 before trading him to Minnesota. More recently, Philadelphia Phillies All-Star center fielder Odubel Herrera was drafted in 2014.

These four players picked on Thursday have the best chance to join that select group.

1) Richie Martin

Richie Martin, the first pick of the Rule 5 Draft by the Baltimore Orioles, is arguably the most Major League ready player taken on Thursday. Originally drafted by the Oakland Athletics 20th overall in 2015, Martin spent the entire 2018 season at Double-A Midland, hitting .300 and stealing 25 bases.

While Martin only had six home runs last season, he did hit 29 doubles, sixth in the Texas League, while adding a league-leading eight triples. He’s also a solid defender, committing just 16 errors in 437 chances at shortstop.

Martin, who turns 24 later in December, was the 12th-ranked prospect in the Athletics’ system, according to MLBPipeline. With the depleted Orioles in desperate need of exciting young talent, he could make the jump to the Majors in 2019.

2) Drew Jackson

Drew Jackson, 25, joins a Philadelphia Phillies organization that believes they are ready to compete in the National League. The Phillies selected Jackson with the 11th pick on Thursday after he spent the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Tulsa.

Jackson has struggled to reach base consistently at Tulsa, batting just .247 over the last two seasons. When he does, however, he’s a threat. He hit 15 home runs in 2018 while also stealing 22 bases. He’s also a versatile fielder, spending time at second base, shortstop, and center field last year.

A fifth round pick of Seattle in 2015, Jackson was traded to Los Angeles in 2017 and was the 19th-ranked prospect in the Dodgers system.

3) Elvis Luciano

At first glance the Blue Jays selection of pitcher Elvis Luciano is puzzling. The 18-year-old must spend all of 2019 on the 25-man roster after not pitching above rookie ball in his career.

Luciano, however, displays the type of stuff that big league clubs covet. He had a 3.90 ERA in 13 games in rookie ball for the Kansas City Royals organization last year, striking out 70 in 67 innings. While at Idaho Falls he didn’t give up a run in 11 innings and averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings. Luciano possesses a mid-90s fastball while also throwing a good curveball and changeup.

Luciano signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. Arizona traded him to Kansas City in a deal for Jon Jay in June. He was the Royals 23rd-ranked prospect before being selected by Toronto with the ninth pick on Thursday.

4) Riley Ferrell

Hard-throwing RHP Riley Ferrell dominated in Double-A in 2018. His 1.90 ERA in 21 games for the Houston Astros’ affiliate in Corpus Christi ranked sixth in the Texas League among pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched. He also converted all seven save opportunities and struck out 33 in 23.2 innings.

Ferrell, picked by the Miami Marlins with the fourth pick on Thursday, has a fastball that can reach 98 plus a good slider. He struggled after a promotion to Triple-A, however, with a 6.75 ERA in 28 innings for Fresno. He also had trouble controlling his pitches, walking 34 batters in 51.2 innings.

With his strong fastball, though, the Marlins feel he could be a dependable arm out of the bullpen if he works on his command.

Houston drafted Ferrell in the third round out of TCU in 2015. He was the 17th-ranked prospect in the Astros organization before Thursday’s draft.

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