Next week, the MLB Winter Meetings will take place in San Diego, and the Rule 5 Draft is part of the annual event. The opportunity is given to teams to select unprotected players from other organizations that meet specific criteria.
Rule 5 Draft eligibility is tied to when a player first signed with their club. Players signed at 18 or younger must be added to the 40-man roster within five seasons. Players signed at 19 or older have four seasons before they must be protected. For this year's draft, high school or international picks signed in 2018 had to be added to the 40-man roster, and college players signed in 2019.
There are also rules tied to the drafting of a player. During the MLB phase of the Rule 5 Draft, drafting clubs pay $100,000 to select a player. From there, the player has to stick on the team's 26-man roster for the entire season or be offered back to his former team for half the selection fee ($50,0000). Over the last decade, here are some of the players tied to the Twins through the Rule 5 Draft.
Minnesota's Best Pick: Ryan Pressly
The Twins had the fourth overall pick in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft after finishing with 99 losses the previous season. There were plenty of holes to fill on the roster, so the Twins selected Ryan Pressly from the Red Sox organization. Pressly spent six seasons in the Twins organization and posted a 3.75 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP. He had an 8.0 K/9 and a 112 ERA+ before the Twins traded him to the Astros at the 2018 trade deadline.
Pressly has gone on to have a tremendous career in Houston with multiple All-Star appearances and a World Series title. He provided plenty of value to the Twins before the trade, and both players acquired from Houston project to impact the 2023 roster (Gilberto Celestino and Jorge Alcala). Twins fans can play the "What if?" game with Pressly, but he likely wouldn't have reached the same level of success without moving to Houston.
Minnesota's Worst Loss: Akil Baddoo
Baddoo was Minnesota's second-round pick one year before the current front office took over. He had shown some promise as a prospect, but he had played fewer than 30 games above the Low-A level, making it easier to leave him unprotected. The Tigers took him with the third overall pick in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, and he went on to have a tremendous rookie campaign. In 124 games, he hit .259/.330/.436 (.766) with 20 doubles, seven triples, and 13 home runs. He provided 2.1 WAR for a Tigers team that started moving in the right direction.
From the Twins' perspective, losing Baddoo was challenging because the club desperately needed outfield depth during the 2021 campaign. Last season, Baddoo struggled at the big-league level as his OPS dropped to .558, and the Tigers sent him to Triple-A to find his swing. He posted a .905 OPS with 14 extra-base hits in 30 games, so there is some hope for him to return to his performance level from his rookie season.
The Jury's Still Out: Tyler Wells
Minnesota left Wells unprotected in the same Rule 5 Draft as Baddoo, and Baltimore took him in the second round with the 17th overall pick. The Orioles used him as a reliever throughout the 2021 season, and he compiled a 4.11 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP and 10.3 K/9. Last season, the Orioles transitioned him to a starting role, and the results were mixed. In 23 starts (103 2/3 innings), he had a 4.25 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP and a 76-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He ranked in the 59th percentile or higher in xBA, BB%, and chase rate. His fastball spin also is among the league's best, in the 93rd percentile.
Baltimore was a surprise team in 2022, and Wells tied for the second-most starts on the team. He will continue to get opportunities to start in 2023, and he plans to focus on consistency and endurance to become part of Baltimore's long-term plan.
The Rule 5 Draft can be challenging for teams to find big-league talent, but it's been nearly a decade since the Twins found a consistent big- league player. Do you think the Twins will regret losing Baddoo and Wells? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.