This year's Rule 5 Draft saw 27 players selected from various franchises around the league. Here is a review of the top ten selections.
1. Florida- Dennis Rice, P, selected from Montgomery.
- Chosen in the first round of the Season 13 draft out of the U, Rice came with high expectations and the potential to be a front of the rotation starter for the Burns. Rice, whose temperment was a red flag for some teams, did not progress through the minors as he thought he should. There is some speculation that several clubhouse incidents took place between Rice and AA coaches, which may have led to his poor work ethic in Season 15. He has made only marginal improvement in the quality of his pitches since then, but the Gators were willing to take a flyer on him as the overall #1 pick in hopes that a change of scenery will revive his zest for the game.
2. Dover- Frank Sisco, P, selected from San Diego.
- A 12th round pick from Central Arizona College in Season 12, Sisco was not projected to make it as a Major League starter initially. Some scouts have changed their perspective on this 24 year old hurler, projecting he could potentially make a run at the majors in a few years. Other scouts believe he won't be able to develop his pitches well enough to get past AAA. He has the makeup and control of a solid starting pitcher, but his ability to get skilled hitters out will determine whether or not Dover made a good decision here.
3. San Antonio- Bobby Whitfield, P, selected from Honolulu.
- Another 12th round pick and coming from Bloomfield High School in Indiana, Bobby Whitfield was drafted by Honoulu to provide some down the road bullpen help for the major league club. His minor league numbers were solid, but Whitfield languished in A ball for 4 seasons while a part of the Tropics organization. His hard sinker and curveball are plus pitches, but he may struggle with control from time to time. Despite the lack of promotion Whitfield has continued to work hard, and will likely make significant contributions to the Smashboyz bullpen this season.
4. New Orleans- Art Miller, SS, selected from Florida.
- Miller was a supplemental pick out of Chattanooga State in Season 13. Like Whitfield he too put up great numbers in A ball, but stayed there until last season. He hit .346 with 29HRs and 144RBI between High A and Low A ball in Season 15, but he was not promoted until halfway through Season 16. This may have affected the confidence of lesser players, but not Miller. He has worked through adversity and should reach his full potential. Miller will be a role player for the Cajuns this year, while backing up 3B and OF positions.
5. Atlanta- Hoss Shirley, SS, selected from Florida.
- Florida leaves another quality player unprotected in Hoss "Don't Call Me" Shirley. A supplemental pick in Season 13, Shirley came out of high school with a reputation as a hard worker, but a bit of a loner. In 1200 minor league at-bats he hit .318, and spent most of his time in the field as a CF, SS, and 1B. A career .883 fielding percentage as a SS, and numbers at CF which aren't much better, Shirley could see time at the corner OF positions for the Lone Wolves. Projects as a bench player at the major league level.
6. Kansas City- Phillip Holliday, P, selected from Norfolk.
- Holliday was on the radar of many teams during this years Rule 5 draft, and KC decided to pull the trigger at #6. He didn't make it any further than High A ball for the Nala Dogs' organization, but put up fantastic numbers in the last two seasons, winning 34 games combined as a starter. He boasts great control, a good work ethic, and good velocity. With time Holliday can make an impact as a back of the rotation starter. His stuff isn't where it needs to be however, so he will likely serve in long relief or mopup this season.
7. Chicago- Russell Russell, SS, selected from San Diego.
- The man with two first names....or two last names, depending on how you look at it, was acquired via trade by San Diego on July 2nd. 5 days later he was selected via the Rule 5 draft. At 27 years of age Russell has been around the league, making stops in Pittsburgh and Texas before the trade to the Firemen. In 1185 ML ABs Russell is hitting .255, with 26HRs and 32SBs. Russell is a fine defensive player, but lacks the range to play a good SS. Smart selection for a team that needed some depth.
8. St. Louis- Lefty Yearwood, C, selected from Kansas City.
- Needing to add talented hitters to one of the worst offensive teams in the league last season, the Cardinals selected Yearwood at #8 to pair up with Hawk Hardtke. Lefty, who is right handed and got the nickname when he took the term 'punching cattle' a bit too literally, has good power, great eye at the dish, and hits left handed pitching very well. He's not tremendous behind the plate, but figures to spend some time there this season. Yearwood hit 17HRs in limited duty at AAA last season.
9. Hartford- Mark Chen, C, selected from Salem.
- Chen, a 7th round selection in Season 12, put up terrific offensive numbers at every level until a dissapointing Season 16 which saw him hit .220 in almost 200ABs. He is a solid defensive catcher, however, and calls a good game. If he can stay healthy Chen can provide some pop (33HR at AA in Season 15) to the Hartford lineup, but likely won't hit for much of an average. Chen draws comparisons to Jason LaRue.
10. Cincinnati- Sergio Rigby, 2B, selected from San Antonio.
- Hailing from Sulphur Springs, TX, Rigby was selected in the 2nd round of the Season 13 amateur draft. He has great defensive skills for a man his size, and plays 2B like a natural. He never made it out of A ball, however, even after hitting .297 with 17HR and 75RBI in Season 15. Cincinnati decided to offer him back to San Antonio after the draft, but the Smashboyz declined. Sergio was then waived by the club, and claimed by New Orleans on July 10th. He figures into their plans as a backup CF/2B.