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The best MLB Rule 5 Draft picks of the last decade

On Wednesday, the Rule 5 Draft takes place at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, giving teams an opportunity to take some low-risk gambles to find big league talent.

Rules

Players first signed at 18 or younger must be added to the 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organisations through the Rule 5 process. Players at 19 or older have to be added within four seasons.

Clubs will pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn’t stay on the 26-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000. 

Here is a list of the best Rule 5 Draft picks in the last decade.

Ryan Pressly (Houston Astros)

Pressly was selected by the Minnesota Twins from the Boston Red Sox in 2012. He spent nearly six seasons as a valuable part of the Twins’ big league bullpen after they took him as their No.4 overall pick in the 2012 draft. 

Pressly has since made two All-Star appearances since the Twins sent him to Houston. He was a big part of their World Series success in 2022. 

Garrett Whitlock (Boston Red Sox)

Whitlock was selected by the Red Sox from the New York Yankees in 2020. That year’s Rule 5 draft was clouded by the fact there were no Winter Meetings for officials to attend in person. 

Whitlock was the No.4 pick of the Rule 5 draft that year. He went 5-5 with a 5.15 ERA in 2023, splitting time between the starting rotation and the bullpen. His best season was 2021, when he went 8-4 with a 1.96 ERA.

Anthony Santander (Baltimore Orioles)

Santander was selected by the Orioles from Cleveland in 2016. It took a little while for the outfielder to settle into the big leagues, playing in just 46 games in 2017 and 2018 combined. 

In 2022, Santander hit 33 home runs and drove in 89 runs and he kept up his high level of play in 2023 with a .257 batting average, a career-best .325 on-base percentage, 28 home runs, and another career-best 95 RBI as the Orioles shocked the league to win the AL East. 

Mark Canha (Detroit Tigers)

Canha was selected by the Colorado Rockies from the Miami Marlins and then later traded to the Oakland A’s. Canha found himself with the New York Mets after signing a two-year-deal in 2022 as a free agent. 

Canha was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers from the Mets in 2023. Between the two teams, he batted .262 with a .355 on-base percentage, plus 11 home runs and 62 RBI. He traded again in the offseason, this time to the Detroit Tigers for a minor league player.

Brad Keller (Kansas City Royals)

Keller was selected by the Cincinnati Reds from the Arizona Diamondbacks before being traded to the Royals in 2017. He started in the Royals’ bullpen before becoming a consistent starter by the end of the season. 

He was a regular in the rotation for the next three seasons and spent most of 2022 as the same, although a lack of results pushed him back to the bullpen late in the season. Keller played in just 11 games, starting nine of them, in 2023.

Akil Baddoo (Detroit Tigers)

Badoo was selected by the Tigers from the Minnesota Twins in 2020. The outfielder took advantage of increased playing time in 2021 finishing with 13 home runs and 18 stolen bases in his rookie season. 

However, he didn’t build on that promise in 2022, playing in just 73 games and finishing with a .558 OPS. As a 24-year-old in his third MLB season, he batted .218 with a .310 on-base percentage with 11 home runs and 34 RBI.

Ji-Man Choi (San Diego Padres)

Choi was selected by the Los Angeles Angels from the Baltimore Orioles in 2015. He appeared in 54 games in 2016, then went from the Angels to the Yankees and then the Brewers as a free agent for the next couple of seasons. 

He landed with the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2018 season and spent the next four seasons there. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates before the 2023 season, and they traded him to San Diego. Between the two teams, he only played 39 games and batted .163.

Ryan Noda (Oakland Athletics)

Chosen in the 2022 Rule 5 Draft, Noda was one of the few bright spots in a dismal 2023 Oakland Athletics season.

He batted .229 with a .364 on-base percentage, as well as hitting 16 home runs with 54 RBI.

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