With the Major League Baseball Rule 5 draft growing closer and closer I thought now would be an excellent time to take a look at the top five players that will be available in this year’s crop of players. This annual tradition is an excellent way for a club to swipe a young talent such as Johan Santana, Dan Uggla, or Josh Hamilton for virtually nothing. This year’s batch of players could have that next big superstar just waiting for their opportunity to show what they have. So with that being said, here are the top 5 players ranked 1-5 that teams should give a shot to:
Brian Barton | CF | Cleveland Indians | Age: 25 | Bats/Throws: R/R
Brian Barton was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 38th round of the 2000 entry level draft. Then in 2004 he joined the Cleveland Indians as a non-drafted free agent after leaving the University of Miami. The outfielder has produced very solid numbers as a professional putting up a .316/.416/.473 career line and has developed into a solid defensive player. While he doesn’t possess the power or run production of a corner outfielder, he does hit well enough and has the ability to steal bases (could steal 15-20 as an everyday player) but would be a great (and cheap) option for many teams to fit in as a fourth outfielder. He is definitely worth the roster spot for a team that is looking to fill out their 40-man or could use some outfield help.
Justin Hedrick | P | San Francisco Giants | Age: 25 | Bats/Throws: R/R
Justin Hedrick was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 6th round of the 2004 amateur draft out of Northeastern University. Hedrick made the move to the bullpen in the Minors and made a nice transition posting very solid career numbers with a 2.65 ERA and 10.94 K/9. Since teams are always looking for bullpen help, Hedrick may fit in nicely for a team looking to fill out their bullpen going into 2008.
Dusty Hughes | P | Kansas City Royals | Age: 25 | Bats/Throws: L/L
Coming out of Delta State University, left handed pitcher Dusty Hughes was drafted in the 11th round of the 2003 amateur draft by the Kansas City Royals. I’m a little confused as to why the Royals are leaving Hughes eligible for the Rule 5 Draft especially considering how lefties are a very hot commodity in Major League Baseball which means he will most likely be picked up. This is especially true when you consider his 3.26 career ERA and the fact that he is a former all-star and best pitcher award winner in the Arizona Fall League. There is little doubt that Hughes will be selected in this year’s draft and will help fill a lefty void in some MLB team’s roster.
Jamie D’Antona | 3B | Arizona D-Backs | Age: 25 | Bats/Throws: R/R
Jamie D’Antona was drafted out of Wake Forest University in the 2nd round of the 2003 amateur entry draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. D’Antona started his pro career out on a pretty mediocre note. But over the past two seasons he has improved immensely and managed to increase his OPS by almost 170 points. He also a little pop to his bat (combined for 73 doubles and 30 homers the past two years) and posted a low 10.7 K% in 2007 cutting it nearly in half from the previous year. D’Antona would be a nice bench player as he has shown the potential to hit as well as having the ability to play third base, first base, and even catcher.
David Smith | OF | Toronto Blue Jays | Age: 26 | Bats/Throws: R/R
Coming out of West Virginia State College, David Smith was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2002 amateur entry draft. Smith is most likely the most powerful hitter to be available in this year’s draft which will catch the attention of many teams. He hit 24 homers in 2007 and has driven in 68 or more runs in each of the last four seasons. While he is a little old (26) to still be in Double-A, he has shown improvements and is able to play all three outfield positions and could be a nice fourth outfielder for many teams.
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