Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rule 5 Losses?

UPDATE: Jan over at the DFTC Twins Forums has let me know that Beau Kemp has already left the organization, signing with the Blue Jays. I wasn't aware that he was a minor league free agent - and maybe he wasn't - but somehow he got loose and the Twins lost him. It's too bad - he seems to have been a solid pitcher on the verge of getting a shot at the Majors. Now, onto the original post:

With the Rule 5 Draft coming up on Thursday, it seems appropriate to take a look at who the Twins have that might be vulnerable to being drafted. A refresher on the rules: Any player who was signed at the age of 18 or younger is protected from being drafted in the first five Rule 5 drafts following that players signing, while players who were signed at the age of 19 or older are protected from being drafted in the first four Rule 5 drafts following the signing. The only way that I know of to prevent a player from being drafted if they meet this baseline of eligibility is to place them on the 40-Man Roster.

Now, the eligibility rules changed when the latest CBA was agreed to last month. Formerly, protection extended to players for just 4 years (for 18 and younger signees) or 3 years (for 19 and older). The result is that players who would have been eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time this year are now protected for an additional year. As a result, every player eligible in this years Rule 5 Draft was eligible last year as well (with the exception of those players who were removed from the 40-Man Roster in the last 12 months).

So, who might the Twins lose on Thursday? Here are some of the names I think could be drafted, along with reasons why. The list is by no means exhaustive, but I think that if the Twins lose anyone, it will be someone on this list.

Beau Kemp - RP (R) - Rochester Red Wings
Kemp had a 2.32 ERA last season in 49 games for Rochester. Over 7 minor league seasons, he has a 2.70 ERA. He doesn't strike out a lot of people, but he seems to have established that he's a very solid Minor League player who probably deserves a shot at the next level. The fact that the Twins didn't protect him could reflect that he's not Major League ready - or it could be an indication that the Twins are content with their bullpen and didn't want to spend another roster spot on a reliever. If I were a team like the Royals or Nationals, however, I would draft Kemp and give him a shot to prove himself in spring training.

Kevin Cameron - RP (R) - Rochester Red Wings
Cameron had a terrible time of it in the Arizona Fall League, with an ERA of 8.58 in 11 relief appearances. However, he had a solid regular season, posting a 2.98 ERA and striking out 65 while walking just 25. He's had a solid Minor League career, and like Kemp he may be a guy that a bad team takes a chance on for the spring.

Josh Rabe - OF - Rochester Red Wings
I like Rabe - I think he showed that he could play, hitting .286 and belting 3 homeruns in just 49 at-bats. Now, I'm not sure about his eligibility for this draft - the Twins just signed Rabe to a Major League contract, but they immediately outrighted him off the 40-man Roster. To me, that means he's eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, because he was drafted all the way back in 2000, and isn't on a 40-man Roster. I think Rabe would be an excellent pickup for most teams.

Garrett Guzman - OF - New Britain Rock Cats
Trent Oeltjen - OF - New Britain Rock Cats

Both of these are probably far-fetched. Neither has played above AA, and both are still probably too raw to do anyone any good this year. However, a team could take a chance, stick one of these guys on the bench for a year, and then send them back to AAA for more seasoning. Remember - when the Twins drafted Johan Santana, they essentially had to hide him for a year because he was still much, much too raw. In the same spirit, I think it's at least possible that one of these guys could get selected.

Bottom Line
I would be very surprised if Beau Kemp and Josh Rabe were still the property of the Twins when this thing is over. It really all depends on how many teams are going to take chances on young players, and how many opportunities exist on the market. Not having looked at who is eligible everywhere else throughout the league, I can't say whether there are better players available. If I were a GM, however, I would look long and hard at Kemp and Rabe.


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