Phils hope to again strike gold in Rule 5 Draft

Phils hope to again strike gold in Rule 5 Draft

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies will come home from next week's Winter Meetings with at least one new player on their 40-man roster. They have the No. 1 pick in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, and they plan to use it.

Pro scouting director Mike Ondo said the Phillies have not decided who they will select, but they hope he will be as talented as some of the players they have selected in previous Rule 5 Drafts, like Shane Victorino, Odubel Herrera and Ender Inciarte.

The Phillies are on the hunt for pitching, so it might seem obvious they will take a pitcher.

Then again, how can they pass on a talented position player?

"I can tell you, when we were playing well and had more of a veteran club I think we drafted more toward need at that point," Ondo said. "Obviously, last year we tried to take more of the prospect with ceiling."

Herrera proved to be a gem in last year's Rule 5 Draft. After the Phillies plucked him from the Rangers' organization, he hit .297 with 30 doubles, three triples, eight home runs, 41 RBIs and a .762 OPS in 537 plate appearances. He had no problem sticking on the Phillies' 25-man roster the entire season, which was required in order for him to remain in the organization.

From 2006-14, 33 percent of players selected in the Rule 5 Draft (48-of-144) have remained with the teams that selected them, including 11 of 14 players last year. So while the odds are against a player sticking with the team that selects him, the Phillies have the advantage of being thin on talent with an opportunity to let that player develop.

"As we narrow down the list to a more manageable 10 names or so, we'll discuss whether we select a player based on need or take the best player available," Ondo said.

MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo recently listed 10 of the best prospects available in this year's Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies' selection could come from this group.

Of course, the trick isn't necessarily finding a talented player. It's finding a talented player who can stay in the big leagues an entire season.

"Are they ready to handle it?" Ondo said. "How ready are they to survive or flourish? In Herrera's case, he took the ball and ran with it."

Ondo and his team will continue to pore over reports through next week's Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., before settling on somebody. They hope to find the next Herrera. If so, it will be a nice victory for the rebuilding Phillies.

"There's talent on these lists," Ondo said. "It's just a matter of feeling comfortable with the player that we choose."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.