Position players don’t get selected as frequently as pitchers in the Rule 5 draft, and for two good reasons. Teams usually try to protect their promising position players, and even if an intriguing option is left out there, it’s easier to protect a pitcher than it is a position player. Here are the results of the Rule 5 draft over the last four years, detailing how many players were selected by position, and how many of those players were protected all season.
There have been 75 players selected in the Rule 5 draft over the last four years, and only 20 position players. The least popular positions selected are corner infielders. Not shown in the chart above is that most of the outfielders selected are of the athletic, speedy, center field option variety. The reason for all of this is that teams don’t usually leave a guy with power potential unprotected. Here is a look at the most interesting position players available for the Rule 5 draft this year.
ALSO SEE: 2010 Rule 5 Draft Eligible Pitchers
Steven Hill, C, St. Louis Cardinals
Hill was the #24 prospect in the Cardinals farm system heading in to the 2010 season. His main tool is his bat, and he’s listed as a catcher, although he lacks a true defensive position, and probably won’t cut it as a catcher in the majors. Hill is coming off a season in which he hit for a .280/.352/.543 line with 22 homers in 361 at-bats at the AA level. That was at the age of 25, and was after having over 600 plate appearances at the level between the previous two seasons. Hill had a brief stay in AAA, hitting for a .176/.263/.382 line with two homers in 34 at-bats. He made it to the majors, going 1-for-3 with a homer in his only game. Hill isn’t strong enough defensively to be a catcher, lacks the range needed as an outfielder, and at 5′ 11″ is a short option for first base. His upside is likely a good bat off the bench.
Ryan Adams, 2B, Baltimore Orioles
Adams was recently named the eighth best prospect in the Baltimore farm system by Baseball America for the 2011 season. He was a surprising exclusion from the Baltimore 40-man roster, after a .298/.365/.464 line and 15 homers in 530 at-bats at the AA level in 2010. Adams, who turns 24 next April, has played second and third base, but might be better at third. However, his power is limited, which doesn’t make him the best third base prospect long term. He could be protected by a team looking for a backup at second and third base, and his upside doesn’t project to be more than that utility role.
Brandon Waring, 3B, Baltimore Orioles
Waring was named the 17th best prospect in Baltimore’s system by Baseball Prospectus for the 2011 season. He’s got some of the best raw power in the Baltimore farm system, but struggles with strikeouts, with 179 in 472 at-bats at the AA level in 2010. Waring hit for a .242/.338/.458 line in 2010, with 22 homers. He mostly plays third base, and also plays first and left field, although his defense isn’t good enough to be a starter at any position. His upside is a power bat off the bench that can play the corner positions.
Brad Emaus, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
Emaus had a big season at the plate in 2010 after entering the season as the 25th best prospect in the Toronto farm system. At the AA level he hit for a .272/.402/.434 line in 136 at-bats, with five homers, and a 19:31 K/BB ratio. In his AAA debut, the 24 year old hit for a .298/.395/.495 line with ten homers in 309 at-bats, along with a 50:50 K/BB ratio. Emaus projects for 10-15 homers a year in the majors, which isn’t enough for third base, although he’s been working a lot at second base over the last two years, where his bat could make him a regular everyday player in the majors.
Daryl Jones, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Jones entered the 2010 season as the fourth best overall prospect and the top hitting prospect in the St. Louis farm system. He was coming off a .279/.360/.378 performance at the AA level in 2009, at the age of 22. Jones went back to AA in 2010, and saw his numbers regress, with a .244/.335/.361 line in 451 at-bats. Jones is a great athlete, although he might be limited to left field due to poor arm strength. He’s got gap power, and his speed turns that in to extra base hits. He’s obviously coming off a down year, and hasn’t played above the AA level yet, but he would be a good gamble for some team as a fifth outfielder, with the potential to realize his potential as a starter in the majors one day.