The Rule 5 Draft is finally upon us. And, while there doesn't appear to be that one standout name that everyone is talking about, there are some quality players out there that teams feel can be contributors in 2012. But, there is also a lack of top flight talent that teams will be devastated to lose. In other words, look for role players to come out of this draft rather than a future Dan Uggla.
Nick Barnese, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Nick Barnese doesn't do one particular thing that stands out in a big way. But, the overall package is something a club might find very enticing on Thursday morning. He throws enough strikes to pitch effectively in the big leagues, and has the stuff to stack up against major league hitters. He works in the low 90s with his fastball, and also throws a quality slider and changeup. The 22-year-old righty has room for improvement, but could most likely hold his own in the big leagues in 2012.
Philippe Valiquette, LHP, Seattle Mariners
One thing there never seems to be a lack of in the Rule 5 draft are pitchers with huge fastballs and issues with the rest of their game. Valiquette is that guy in 2011. He's had serious issues with his command of the strike zone in the past, and his secondary pitches need a lot of work, but he has touched triple digits with his fastball in the past and consistently sits in the upper 90s. There would have to be a team out there capable of hiding him in their bullpen for a full season.
Drew Sutton, SS, Atlanta Braves
He hasn't been a Brave very long, but many industry sources in Dallas feel that Sutton could be one of the early picks in this draft. He brings some versatility with him and his bat will likely play in the big leagues in 2012. He has big league experience and is a little older, so while people tend to think of younger prospects with the rule 5, players like the 28-year-old Sutton are often more realistic picks.
T.J. McFarland, LHP, Cleveland Indians
McFarland may not be the most exciting prospect out there, but he's one of the more polished ones that a club could pick up on Thursday in Dallas. He brings with him some deception from the left side, which allows his 87-90 mph fastball to play up a couple ticks. He also commands his breaking ball well enough that a big league club may give a chance to be a lefty out of the bullpen.
Jiwan James, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Any team who considers Jiwan James will have to have a very deep roster. But, there's no one who will doubt James' often electric tools. Scouts are waiting for his bat to catch up with his fantastic raw tools, but his speed, athleticism and defense could bring a lot to a big league roster even without the bat coming around. He's a long shot selection, but all it takes is one team to believe in his bat.