Like Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, the former Tampa Bay overall No. 1 pick whose personal problems had made him an afterthought until the was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft and went on to hit .292 with 19 homers and 47 RBIs as a rookie during the 2007 season.
Like infielder Dan Uggla, taken from the D-backs by the Marlins in 2005. Uggla not only won Florida's second base job in '06, but became the first -- and so far only -- player to participate in an All-Star Game in his Rule 5 season, in which he hit .292 with 27 homers and 90 RBIs.
Like Royals closer Joakim Soria, taken from the Padres in 2006, who posted a 2.48 ERA and collected 17 saves as a rookie.
But not all of the Draft's most famous poster boys were overnight sensations.
Johan Santana, a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner, went from the Astros to the Twins via the Rule 5 route in 1999, but in 2000, his first full season in the Majors, he went 2-3 with a 6.39 ERA in 30 games -- five starts -- with opponents batting .302 off of him.
It's doubtful anyone was looking back at the 1999 Rule 5 Draft in 2000 and thinking "Wow, that Johan Santana sure was the steal of the draft."
Or what about Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino, the "Flyin' Hawaiian" who has helped propel his team to back-to-back National League titles and a World Series championship? He was actually drafted in the Rule 5 twice -- by San Diego from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002, after which he hit .151 in 36 games with the Padres before being returned to the Dodgers, who sent him back to Class A for more work. Three years later he was drafted again, this time by the Phillies.
So when we say that, at first glance, there were no huge success stories to write about looking back at the 21 players (16 of them pitchers) taken in last year's Rule 5 Draft, we temper that with the caveat that it does not mean that there won't be some Rule 5 success stories from 2008 down the road.
Two top possibilities both sit on the Padres' 40-man roster right now: speedy shortstop Everth Cabrera and hard-throwing right-handed reliever Luis Perdomo.
The Padres took Cabrera from Colorado with the third pick in the Draft after he led the Minors with 73 stolen bases at Class A Asheville. They knew the switch-hitting Nicaraguan was raw and maybe not ready to be a prime-time player, but his upside was irresistible. Cabrera ended up hitting .255 with 25 stolen bases in 103 games with the Padres, tied for fourth among big league rookies in steals.
Perdomo was actually taken with the sixth pick in the Draft by the Giants from the Cardinals. Armed with a plus fastball and hard slider, he seemed to be a lock for the Giants' Opening Day roster but was surprisingly designated for assignment on the final day of Spring Training. The Padres were quick to claim him. Though he missed a few weeks with a strained knee, he finished with a 4.80 ERA in 35 games in relief, fanning 55 in 60 innings. He currently has a 0.96 ERA in 11 games in the Dominican Winter League.
Eligible players left unprotected from their clubs' 40-man rosters may be selected in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft in exchange for $50,000. A player selected must remain on his drafting team's active Major League roster during the following season or be offered back to the original club for $25,000. The drafting team may also offer the original team a trade in order to maintain rights to the drafted player.
Here is a look at the rest of last year's Rule 5 draftees and where they are now heading into the 2009 Rule 5 Draft, which will be held at 9 a.m. ET on Thursday. MLB.com will carry the audio portion of the event live from Indianapolis with Jonathan Mayo and Mike Siano as co-hosts.
1. Terrell Young, RHP, by Washington (from Cincinnati): The hard-throwing right-hander combined for a 2.88 ERA in relief between two Class A stops in 2008 but was shelved by shoulder trouble in 2009 and never threw a regular-season pitch. On the Nationals' 60-day DL for most of the season, he was returned to the Reds and is on the Triple-A Louisville roster. Odds of his going first again are slim.
2. Reegie Corona, 2B/SS, by Seattle (from New York Yankees): The Yankees, who had four players drafted in the Major League phase of the 2008 Draft, won't lose Corona again. They placed the Venezuelan infielder, who was returned to them, on their 40-man roster last month. Corona hit .257 with six homers, 40 RBIs and 16 steals between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton.
4. Donnie Veal, LHP, by Pittsburgh (from Chicago Cubs): The Pirates took a shot on the 6-foot-4 southpaw who posses great stuff but has command issues. He posted a 7.16 ERA in limited action with the club, walking 20 and striking out 16 in 16 1/3 innings. Veal also spent nearly two months on the DL with a groin strain. He seemed to put it together in the 2009 Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 2.14 ERA in seven starts, walking seven and fanning 22 in 21 innings. Veal is on the Pirates' 40-man roster.
5. Lou Palmisano, C, by Baltimore (from Milwaukee): Palmisano, who was traded to the Astros on Draft Day, was expected to be a backup for then-likely starter Humberto Quintero, but the eventual signing of free agent Pudge Rodriguez made Palmisano expendable. He never played in pro ball in 2009, trying his hand in the independent leagues. Palmisano is currently a Minor League free agent playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
7. David Patton, RHP, by Cincinnati (from Colorado): Patton was traded to the Cubs on Draft Day. He posted a 6.83 ERA in 27 1/3 innings in the Majors, walking 19 and striking out 23 and wound up on the DL for the second half of the season with a groin strain. He is on the Cubs' 40-man roster.
8. Kyle Bloom, LHP, by Detroit (from Pittsburgh): Bloom returned to the Pirates after not making the Tigers. He went 6-9 with a 4.05 ERA at Double-A Altoona, striking out 71 with 57 walks in 104 1/3 innings over 22 games. He is on the Pirates' Triple-A Indianapolis roster.
9. Jose Lugo, LHP, by Kansas City (from Minnesota): Lugo was traded to the Mariners on Draft Day. He didn't make the Seattle roster and was returned to the Twins, for whom he went 4-2 with a 4.19 ERA and 67 strikeouts over 59 games in relief for Double-A New Britain. He is on the Twins' Triple-A Rochester roster.
10. Ben Copeland, OF, Oakland (from San Francisco): Copeland suffered a shoulder injury when he crashed into an outfield wall during Spring Training and landed on the DL. He was returned to San Francisco when he came off the DL. Copeland hit .282 with eight homers, 36 RBIs and 15 steals over 106 games in the Minors. He is on the Giants' Triple-A Fresno roster.
11. James Skelton, C, Arizona (from Detroit): The D-backs traded pitching prospect Brooks Brown to the Tigers to retain Skelton's rights when he didn't make the 25-man roster. Between Class A Visalia and Double-A Mobile he hit .207 with four homers, 42 RBIs and 14 steals and is on the club's Triple-A Reno roster.
12. Zachary Kroenke, LHP, Florida (from the New York Yankees): Kroenke was returned to the Yankees and went 7-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 36 games at Triple-A Scranton, striking out 55 in 72 1/3 innings. Still on the Scranton roster, there is buzz he could be drafted again.
13. Gilbert De La Vara, LHP, Houston (from Kansas City): Returned to the Royals, De La Vara posted a 5.74 ERA at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and is on the Royals' Triple-A Omaha roster.
14. Jason Jones, RHP, by Minnesota (from the New York Yankees): The Twins kept Jones' rights by dealing Minor League pitcher Charles Nolte to the Yankees. Jones went 5-11 with a 5.75 ERA at Triple-A Rochester and gave up 172 hits in 134 2/3 innings, getting hit at a .312 clip. He is on the Rochester roster.
15. Darren O'Day, RHP, by the New York Mets (from the Los Angeles Angels): O'Day had by far the best campaign of any of the '08 Rule 5 picks. After being designated for assignment following four shutout outings out of the bullpen for the Mets, the Rangers signed him and he dominated in relief, posting a 1.94 ERA in 64 games. O'Day was not a rookie when he was drafted, having used up his eligibility in relief with the Angels in 2008.
16. Eduardo Morlan, RHP, by Milwaukee (from Tampa Bay): Morlan was returned to the Rays and went 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA in 48 games in relief for Double-A Montgomery. He is on the club's Triple-A Durham roster.
17. Robert Mosebach, RHP, by Philadelphia (from the Los Angeles Angels): Mosebach was returned to the Angels, for whom he shined in relief between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Salt Lake with a 1.49 ERA and .197 average against in 52 games. He made his big league debut with the Angels in July, pitching in three games in Anaheim. He is on the Angels' 40-man roster.
18. Miguel Gonzalez, RHP, by Boston (from Los Angeles Angels): After missing all of 2008 with a knee injury, Gonzalez missed all of '09 as well, following elbow surgery. On the 60-day DL, he remains in the Red Sox system on the Triple-A Pawtucket roster.
19. Derek Rodriguez, RHP, by Tampa Bay (from Chicago White Sox): Rodriguez was returned to the White Sox and combined for a 3.09 ERA in 43 games out of the bullpen between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. He is on the Charlotte roster.
20. Ivan Nova, RHP, by San Diego (from New York Yankees): Like Corona, the Yankees protected Nova this time so they wouldn't lose him a second time. He combined to go 6-8 with a 3.68 ERA in 24 starts between Trenton and Scranton, striking out 90 in 139 1/3 innings.
21. Rocky Cherry, RHP, by New York Mets (from Baltimore): Released by the Mets at the end of Spring Training, Cherry signed with the Red Sox and spent most of the season at Triple-A Pawtucket before, released once again, he finished the year in the bullpen for the Padres' Triple-A club at Portland. Between the two stops he had a 3.58 ERA in 44 games and is currently a Minor League free agent.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less