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Cardinals Rule V Draft History

The Rule 5 draft has opened opportunities for teams to take other teams' top prospects who may not be ready for the major leagues. Prominent recent examples are Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton, and Jose Bautista. This, along with the relative successes of Matt Bowman this year, got me thinking about the history of Cardinals success at scouting and selecting Rule V talent. I went back to 1965 since this is when a rule change effectively ended the practice of selecting top prospects who had only one year of service in an organization, bringing my research more closely in line with current standards. Before I get into the research, however, I would be remiss to not include at least a cursory overview of the Rule V draft process.

The Rule V draft is a Major League Baseball player draft that occurs each year in December, at the annual Winter Meeting of general managers. The Rule V draft aims to prevent teams from stockpiling too many young players on their minor league affiliate teams when other teams would be willing to have them play in the majors. If chosen in the Rule V draft, a player must be kept on the selecting team's 25-man major league roster for the entire season after the draft. The selecting team may, at any time, waive the Rule 5 draftee. If a Rule V draftee clears waivers by not being claimed by a new MLB team, he must be offered back to the original team for half of the $50,000 selection cost, effectively canceling the Rule V draft choice and costing the drafting team $25,000. Once a Rule V draftee spends an entire season on his new team's 25-man roster, his status reverts to normal and he may be optioned or designated for assignment. Players are eligible for selection in the Rule V draft who are not on their major league organization's 40-man roster and:

  1. were 18 or younger on the June 5 preceding their signing and have spent 6 years in the minor leagues; or
  2. were 19 or older on the June 5 preceding their signing and have spent 5 years in the minor leagues.

Without further ado, I’ve simply done a quick search as to Cardinals Rule V selections dating back to 1965 and included a small blurb about each. Not surprisingly, most selections that lasted the season with the team ended up being used primarily as bench/utility players or low-leverage middle releivers.

1968

Bo Belinsky P Houston Astros

Bo Belinsky is best remembered for throwing a no-hitter for the Los Angeles Angels. Originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1956, Belinsky played several years in the Baltimore Orioles chain before being selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the 1961 Rule V Draft. He joined the Angels rotation in 1962, and in only his fourth big league appearance on May 5th, he hurled a no-hitter against the Orioles, striking out 9 in the process. Back in the minors with the Hawaii Islanders in 1968, he threw another no-hitter. He was sold to the California Angels on April 3, 1969 before making an appearance with the Cardinals.

1969

Milt Ramirez IF Baltimore Orioles

After two seasons in the minors, Ramirez was taken by the Cardinals in the 1969 Rule V Draft. The 20-year-old spent all of the 1970 campaign with St. Louis but played rather sparingly, primarily backing up Dal Maxvill at shortstop and hitting .190 in 62 games. He made 4 appearances for the Cards in 1971 but spent most of the summer with the Arkansas Travelers of the Dixie Association. Following the 1972 campaign, Ramirez was traded to the Houston Astros in a four-player deal.

1970

Cecil Cooper OF Boston Red Sox

Possibly the "one that got away" as Cooper became a star for the Red Sox and Brewers, even playing against the Cardinals in the 1982 World Series while batting third and playing first base for the Brewers. He was returned to the Red Sox during Spring Training in 1971.

1976

Roger Freed 1B/OF Montreal Expos

Freed spent three seasons with the Cards, largely appearing as a pinch hitter and wowing fans with late-inning heroics, such as his walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 11th inning to beat the Astros 7-6 on May 1, 1979. In his 206 AB’s with the Cards, he slashed .306/.375/.495 for an OPS+ of 138. Freed was released on April 2, 1980.

1980

Orlando Sanchez C Philadelphia Phillies

Sanchez also spent three seasons with the Cards, being used even more sparingly. In his 92 total AB’s for the Cards, he managed to slash .228/.280/.293, while serving in the "Tony Cruz" role of rarely used backup catcher, for a very Cruz-ian OPS+ of 61. In 1983, he was selected in the Rule V for the second time by the Kansas City Royals.

Carlos Lopez OF Mexico City

Lopez appears to have never taken an at-bat with the Cardinals as his last game appearance was for the Orioles in 1978. No transactional information was available after his Rule V selection in 1980, however, so I must assume that he rode off into the sunset like the immortal Amaury Cazana.

1982

Kurt Kepshire P Cincinnati Reds

Kepshire had a three year run of mediocre starting pitching for the Cards beginning in 1984. He made 46 starts, going 16-15, while logging 270 IP with a cumulative ERA of 4.16. He did win 10 games for the 1985 World Series Champion Runner-Up team, though, so that’s something.

1984

Willie Lozado IF Milwaukee Brewers

Lozado is another pick who never appeared for the Cards. He was released after splitting the 1985 season between the Cardinals’ AA and AAA affiliates.

1985

Clint Hurdle C New York Mets

Arguably the most recognizable name on the list, Hurdle was converted to catcher by the Mets in 1985 and subsequently taken by the Cards in the Rule V draft that November. In 1986, he played in 78 games, appearing in the OF, 3B, and at C, while slashing .195/.311/.299 for an OPS+ of 70 in 154 AB’s. He was granted Free Agency after the 1986 season and resigned with the Mets.

1994

Rich DeLucia P Baltimore Orioles

DeLucia had a serviceable year in the Cardinals bullpen in 1995, going 8-7 with a 3.39 ERA over 82 1/3 innings, for an ERA+ of 123. This turned out to be the best season of his career and the Cardinals sold high when they traded him, Doug Creek, and Allen Watson for Royce Clayton and Chris Wimmer in December of 1995.

1995

Andre King OF Chicago White Sox

The Cardinals organization picked up King in the 1995 Rule V Draft but he never played a game in their system. Instead, the Cardinals included him in a three-team trade, in which the Reds sent Mike Remlinger to the Royals, the Reds sent Luis Ordaz to the Cardinals, the Royals sent Miguel Mejia to the Cardinals and the Cardinals sent King to the Reds. He never made it above AA for Cinncinati, however, and enrolled in the University of Miami in 1997 where he became a wide receiver for the football team. Eventually, he would wind up as a kick returner for the Cleveland Browns from 2001-2004.

1998

Alberto Castillo C Philadelphia Phillies

Castillo played one season as a backup catcher for the Cards, slashing .263/.326/.341 for an OPS+ of 69 over 255 AB’s. On November 11, 1999, he was traded with Matt DeWitt and Lance Painter to the Toronto Blue Jays for Pat Hentgen and Paul Spoljaric.

2003

Hector Luna SS Cleveland Indians

As many of us may remember, Luna had a solid three year run as a super-utilityman for the Cardinals following his Rule V selection in 2003. In 533 AB’s, spread over 223 games where he appeared at every position but Pitcher and Catcher, he slashed .276/.336/.398 for an OPS+ of 90. On July 30, 2006, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Ronnie Belliard.

2005

Juan Mateo P Chicago Cubs

Mateo is another selection who never played for the Cards, as he was returned to the Cubs during the 2006 Spring Training.

2007

Brian Barton OF Cleveland Indians

Barton played one season for the Cardinals, slashing .268/.354/.392 for an OPS+ of 98, while serving as a reserve outfielder. During the 2009 Spring Training, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Blaine Boyer.

2009

Ben Jukich P Cincinnati Reds

The Cardinals picked Jukich in the 2009 Rule 5 Draft but did not keep him, returning him to Cincinnati.

2011

Erik Komatsu OF Washington Nationals

Following the 2011 campaign, Komatsu was picked in the 2011 Rule V Draft by the Cardinals, where he made the Opening Day roster and appeared in his first big league game on April 6th, recording his first major league hit. He appeared in 15 games for the Cards, totaling 19 AB’s, during which he slashed .211/.286/.211 for an OPS+ of 40. He was selected off of Waivers by the Minnesota Twins on May 4, 2012, and subsequently returned to the Nationals on May 29.

2015

Matthew Bowman P New York Mets

So far, Bowman has appeared in 21 games, going 1-2 over 27 2/3 innings with a 3.90 ERA. He’s compiled 21 strikeouts compared to 6 walks with 3 HR’s allowed, and has an ERA+ of 105, while serving as a low-leverage middle relief arm.