• Teams set 40-man rosters in advance of Rule 5 Draft
Case in point was last year's Major League phase. Just 14 players were taken, but many of them not just stuck in the big leagues but made major contributions, even to postseason teams. Delino DeShields picked up more than 400 at-bats and was an everyday outfielder for the American League West-champion Texas Rangers. He went 7-for-24 in their AL Division Series vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. Lefty Sean Gilmartin gave the Mets 57 1/3 quality innings out of the bullpen and pitched in the World Series. Mark Canha with the A's (16 homers, 70 RBIs in 441 at-bats) and J.R. Graham of the Twins (63 2/3 innings pitched) also got significant playing time.
It might be too early to know who the 2016 version of DeShields will be, but after Friday's 8 p.m. ET deadline to add players to the 40-man roster came and went, it's at least known what the pool of talent teams can draw from looks like. Here's a quick look at 10 intriguing prospects -- a pitching-heavy list because arms tend to be popular in the Rule 5 -- who are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 10.
Corey Black, RHP, Cubs (No. 19): Black made the move to the bullpen for the first time in 2015. Though he struggles with command, he throws hard and could stick as a reliever if he throws enough strikes with his fastball-slider combination.
Onelki Garcia, LHP, White Sox (No. 22): Garcia actually made it to the big leagues in 2013 with the Dodgers. He missed nearly all of '14, then the White Sox claimed him off waivers. He struggled this year, but a lefty who touches 95 mph is often a popular selection.
Reymin Guduan, LHP, Astros (No. 16): Speaking of lefties who throw hard, Guduan works regularly in the upper 90s now that he's a reliever full-time. He doesn't always know where it's going, but the fastball-slider combo is intriguing.
Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Astros (No. 17): The Astros have six from their top 30 eligible, a testament to how deep their farm system is. Hernandez is a toolshed with an exciting power-speed combination, albeit an unfinished one who needs to work on his approach.
Zack Jones, RHP, Twins (No. 23): The Twins have so many hard-throwing relievers in their system, they can't keep them all. Jones is almost entirely all fastball, but it's one that sits in the upper-90s with movement.
Luis Perdomo, RHP, Cardinals (No. 11): The 2015 Futures Gamer is another flamethrower, one who is developing as a starter. But if he's put in a bullpen, he can run his fastball into the upper 90s, with a hard breaking ball and even a feel for a changeup.
T.J. Rivera, SS, Mets (No. 26): Though he may not be as exciting as a pitcher who can approach triple digits, all Rivera has done in the Minors is hit. He carries a career .318 average and .366 on-base percentage through five Minor League seasons, and he's seen considerable time at all four infield positions.
Sam Selman, LHP, Royals (No. 27): The former Vanderbilt standout and second-round pick struggled as a starter when he started moving up the ladder, so the Royals moved him to the bullpen. He can touch 97 mph and his slider shows flashes of being a plus pitch, but he struggles finding the strike zone.
Dwight Smith, OF, Blue Jays (No. 13): Perhaps the choice as next year's DeShields, if only because he is also the son of a former big leaguer. He has shown an ability to hit for average and draw walks, albeit without much power.
Alberto Tirado, RHP, Phillies (No. 14): Part of the return from the Blue Jays for Ben Revere, Tirado gave up just one earned run in 16 innings following the trade. He struck out 16 and held opponents to a .130 batting average, but he also walked 18. He's yet to pitch above Class A Advanced, but if he can harness his upper-90s fastball, he has a chance.
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
In other words, an international player or high school Draft pick signed in 2011 -- assuming he was 18 or younger as of June 5 that year -- must be protected. A college player taken in the '12 Draft is in the same boat.