The Giants last place finish in 2007 not only secured their 5th overall pick in the amateur draft in June but also for the Rule 5 Draft this December. The Rule 5 Draft is a little more popular in years past because some teams have found hidden gems in the draft. Probably the most well known Rule 5 selection of recent memory is Florida’s Dan Uggla who was a All-Star in 2006. Uggla was selected in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft and since then has spent two seasons as an above average second baseman for the Marlins, hitting 58 HR’s over that time.
With positions still up in the air at 1B and 3B, the Giants, who have 2 open spots currently on their 40-man roster, could decide to take a chance to fill one of those positions through the Rule 5 Draft. The basic premise is that anyone not on the 40-man after 3-4 years of their signing, can be drafted through the Rule 5 but they must be kept on the major league roster (if drafted in the major league phase) for a full year. If they are not kept for a full year, then they are sent back to the original team.
Here’s a good bit of information on the Rule 5 from Brewer Fan:
A player is eligible for the offseason Rule 5 draft if he is not on the 40-man Major League Roster if he was 18 or younger when he first signed a pro contract and this is the fourth Rule 5 draft since he signed or if he was 19 or older when he first signed a pro contract and this is the third Rule 5 draft since he signed. A player drafted in the Rule 5 draft must remain in the majors, be it on the 25-man roster or the disabled list, for all of the following season, or the club that drafted him must return him to his original club. Since a player to is returned must first be place on waivers, a third club can claim the player. The claiming club would then be responsible to the same rules placed upon the team that drafted him in the Rule 5 draft.
With some open space on the 40-man and a high draft slot, the Giants would be in good position to pick up whatever Rule 5 talent they could find. The risk is minimal because the team is in transition right now and they can afford to see if a Rule 5 player can handle a starting or backup position. Baseball America has a nice new article on some potential Rule 5 selections.
After looking over the list briefly and reading this thread on McCovey Chronicles, I’ve found what could be a intriguing match for the Giants at 1B or 3B. His name is Jamie D’Antona, he’s a 25 year old player in the Diamondbacks system, currently at the AAA level. He’s played both third and first and even caught a handful of games, he’s probably nothing more than a 3rd string emergency catcher but the versatility is nice.
For his minor league career, D’Antona is a (.290/.352/.472) hitter. He had troubles once he was promoted to AA in 2005 for a full season. In ’05, he only hit (.249/.322/.385) losing batting average, patience, and power. He repeated the league in 2006 and bounced back, quoting from a BA article on D’Antona:
“He got a little less free-swinging and a little more selective, and his power played better,” Hinch said. “He got into a good routine and he adapted well to the league the second time through.”
That bounce back season of 2006 found him producing a line of (.312/.383/.487). He then was promoted to AAA in 2007 and hit (.308/.362/.499) better numbers than any current AA/AAA Giants 1B/3B prospect. He appears to be a flyball hitter, hitting most of his HR’s from CF-to-LF, checking out his batted ball chart confirms this.
Courtesy of First Inning
Being a RHH, AT&T shouldn’t hurt his power too much. I found it interesting that when D’Antona hit the ball into the air, it was heading to CF (28.8% of his batted balls) instead of straight pulling the ball into LF (8%), he actually hit the 2nd most flyballs the opposite way when hitting them in the air, hitting them to RF (15.2%). Trying to go the other way, unless he can constantly find “Triples Alley” at AT&T might hurt his numbers some. He’ll probably want to try to hit balls to LF and CF more than RF when hitting at AT&T.
A previous report on D’Antona when he was struggling noted that:
His swing gets too long and he gets too pull-conscious, and he’s going to have to make adjustments.
Is it possible that he’s made those adjustments? Focusing less on just pulling the ball and instead focusing on making solid contact?
I have no idea what kind of runner he is, but looking at his minor league numbers, I’d guess he isn’t a fast one. His extremely low average when he batted the balls on the ground combined with his career 12 SB’s lead me to assume that he isn’t very fast. It’s understandable why he did so well when hitting flyballs in ’07, because he hit a lot of extra base hits (43 doubles, 5 triples, and 13 home runs). He also posted a strong line drive percentage of 21% in ’07. D’Antona’s approach seems to center around swinging hard and knocking the ball into the air, as evident by his high LD% and fly ball numbers.
I think D’Antona is a great example of a interesting potential Rule 5 buy . He’s young-ish at 25, has bounced back after struggles in 2005 to produce two solid seasons, and is versatile. He played 67 games at 3B and 47 games at 1B in ’07. He even appeared at catcher in 21 games. The only buyer-beware that I can think of is that I’m always a little leery of hitting prospects from the PCL (see: Linden, Todd) and while he had a solid 2007, a OPS of .861 in the PCL isn’t mind blowing. For comparison, Justin Leone, who is no longer with the Giants, OPS’d .881 last year in the PCL and never even sniffed the majors.
But, if the Giants have any scouting info that’s even remotely positive about D’Antona, I’d probably pull the trigger. We’ve got two open spaces and he’ll most likely out-produce Rich Aurilia or Dan Ortmeier at their positions of 3B and 1B.