The Rule 5 Draft is this morning

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NASHVILLE — The last thing that happens at the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft. It goes down at 10 AM Eastern time this morning.

The draft itself is less-than-riveting. Tons of people in a big room. Team names get called out in rapid fire succession, some occasional players get selected but most responses are simply “pass.” The whole thing is over much more quickly than you think.

I covered the Draft in 2009 and 2010 because it seemed exciting to do so, but it quickly became apparent that it’s rather pointless unless you’re knee-deep in prospect-fu or unless your particular team has signaled ahead of time that it plans to do specific things in the draft. Heck, even some people who work for clubs struggle with identity and significance of players in the draft. I remember back in 2010 I spoke with a team official about his club’s plans for the Rule 5. After talking about how great his club’s scouts were and how hard everyone works, he said, only half-jokingly I think, “we are about 90% sure that a guy we’re looking at in the late rounds actually exists.”

So that’s how that goes. For this year we can say this much: the Phillies, who select first, are on record saying that they intend to select Rays outfielder Tyler Goeddel with the first pick. Goeddel was a supplemental first-round pick in 2011 and has, in the past, been a top-20 Rays prospect. He moved from third base to the outfield recently, however, and is a guy whose game is built on athleticism. All of which are the hallmarks of a “project,” and the Rule 5 Draft is great for projects. Or, as was the case with famous Rule 5 Draft selection Josh Hamilton all those years ago, guys who are special cases of one form or another.

As you probably know, players selected in the Rule 5 have to remain on the 25-man roster all season after being selected. If not, they are offered back to their original team for a nominal fee. Lots of teams eventually figure out that they really can’t carry their Rule 5 selectees on the roster, however, but do want to keep them in the organization. So, historically, a lot of Rule 5 draftees find themselves “injured” at some point early in the season and wind up on the disabled list, where they (a) don’t take up a roster spot; but (b) aren’t subject to being taken back by their old team.

Sometimes the Rule 5 draft spins out a gem for someone. Josh Hamilton was a Rule 5 guy. So was Johan Santana, Shane Victorino, Dan Uggla, and Joakim Soria. But those are the exceptions, not rules, so don’t expect your team to change its trajectory this morning, in that big ol’ ballroom where the draft takes place.

 

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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