With the annual Rule 5 Draft coming up in a little over an hour down in the Grand Ballroom here at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, thought I’d chime in briefly (pre-caffeine, be forewarned) to throw out a few names who have intrigued me from the list of available players and see if any of them match the names who ARE selected when the fun begins … needless to say, I will be back later to blog about that event and also about what the last few days have been like here in Sin City (where my biggest sin has been snagging a few chilled Frappuccinos from the overpriced mini-bar in the room).

When the lists came out, my colleague Jonathan Mayo and I each jotted down a short list of players we thought would draw some interest …

Now, the thing about the Rule 5 Draft is, there are always guys that get a lot of play and are taken high that none of us would know about were it not for the legions of amazing scouts and player development guys out there … kids still playing in the Latin American countries or for short-season teams here or in situational roles in A ball, who have great stuff they haven’t quite put together yet.

The Joakim Sorias of the world … and I suspect there will be a few of them who go today that I may know their names from having heard about them this past week but I won’t include them here yet …

This is just for the guys I’ve seen or know that I think could be of interest …

Obviously, if you have been reading this blog, you know I think Cleveland Indians 1B Jordan Brown (check out the entry before this) should draw interest from teams. I also think a few of his teammates could change organizations for the time being at least, such as LHP Chuck Lofgren (the 2006 Carolina League Pitcher of the Year and 2007 Futures Game participant), sidearmer RHP Randy Newsom, or possibly 1B Stephen Head among others.

Another sidearming reliever who might draw interest is Boston Red Sox RHP Beau Vaughan, who walked one and struck out 18 in the AFL this year.

Chicago Cubs LHP Donnie Veal is big, strong, left-handed and has great stuff. Two years ago he was ranked among the top prospects in the game. Though he’s struggled with control over the last two seasons, it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be teams clamoring for the chance to see what they can do with him and many think he could get lefties out in the bigs right now even without a makeover.

I got to see St. Louis Cardinals RHP Luis Perdomo pitch the final inning in the Carolina-California League All-Star Game this summer and all I could think was “where the heck did this guy come from?” He was with the Cleveland system at the time, dealt to the Cards for Anthony Reyes later that summer, and could have a third home by the end of the morning.

Colorado Rockies IF Corey Wimberly is one of the “four amigos” who were buddies at Tulsa this summer (along with Eric Young Jr., Chris Nelson and Dexter Fowler) but the Rockies’ glut of speedy middle infielders with live bats saw Wimberly blocked out of the 40-man picture. The kid can run like the wind, and hit a little bit too (he was the NCAA batting champion at Alcorn State his draft year and won the AFL title in 2007 with a .407, with his buddy Little EY winning it this past season). Coming off a hamate bone injury that shut him down towards the end of the year, he should be a guy to watch. Rockies OF Matt Miller also had an outstanding year at Tulsa and might get some Rule 5 love.  

Another sleeper I like is Detroit Tigers C James Skelton who looks more like a second baseman or shortstop than a catcher but the kid can hit. A broken finger cost him some time this summer but he could get some play here when catchers are always a valuable commodity.

Among the 2008 AFL alumni who could see their names called, Yankees RHP Kevin Whelan, among the AFL ERA leaders this past season, could be on the move, as could Tampa Bay 1B Rhyne Hughes who hit .397 there and was among the leaders in RBI; San Diego OF Mike Baxter, who topped the .400 mark in the league; or multi-tooled Cincinnati Reds OF Sean Henry. .

Finally, there are always a few older “veterans” who could be good role players in the bigs right now, guys who have signed six-year free agent deals which make them eligible, and among those I will toss out the names of two former White Sox players I wrote about in an earlier blog entry, IF Jason Bourgeois, who is now with Milwaukee, and RHP Jason Childers, just inked with Tampa Bay. Both could be keepers.

With a few thousand players eligible for this draft, it’s always a crapshoot. This year’s model seems to be baffling people more than ever, with no obvious No. 1 picks but a lot of interesting names … we’ll know in an hour!!!



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