Johan Santana was a Rule 5 pick. So was Josh Hamilton and Shane Victorino (twice) and Dan Uggla. More often than not, though, Rule 5 picks hang around spring training for a while without ever having a realistic shot of making the big league roster. You might remember that the Yankees lost a whopping four players in last year’s Rule 5 and exactly none of them stuck with their new teams.
After the Brian Bruney trade, the Yankees have the top pick in this year’s draft (unless they trade it). Even at No. 1, though, this year’s class seems thin.
“There’s nothing,” said one scout who’s not with the Yankees. “I don’t think we’re going to be active at all.”
• The scout mentioned left-handed hitting catcher Brian Jeroloman as someone who has drawn some interest, but the scout wasn’t sure Jeroloman would fit with the Yankees. He’s been highly touted for his defense and on-base percentage, but Jeroloman’s strikeouts went way up this year. In the Rule 5 draft, it’s doubtful the Yankees could find a better backup catcher than Francisco Cervelli, but they might find someone to compete for the job.
• Steve Henson has reported that the Yankees are planning to take hard-throwing right-hander Arquimedes Caminero. Baseball America has called Caminero, “one of the best arms available with premium arm strength.” He could be a legitimate bullpen option. My only hesitation in thinking the Yankees might go after him is that the Yankees chose not to protect two of their own “premium arm strength” right handers, Grant Duff and Kevin Whelan. Maybe Caminero is a lot better, I honestly don’t know. He’s barely pitched above short season ball.
• After trading Phil Coke, the Yankees could be in the market for a left-handed reliever. Of course, one Rule 5 preview lists the Yankees own Zach Kroenke as one of the top lefties available. Baseball America didn’t rank a single lefty among the top 10 Rule 5 prospects, and the two lefties who ranked in the top 20 were described as having “fringe” fastballs. Mike Dunn might be a better option.
• My own thinking says Chad Tracy (Jim Tracy’s son, not the big leaguer) or Matt McBride might make sense. Both are right-handed hitting outfielders/first basemen with fairly substantial experience at catcher. Both have some power as well. One of those two could add some outfield depth on the bench — something the Yankees might need — while also giving the Yankees a third catcher for days when Jorge Posada starts at designated hitter.