Here And Gone: Phillies History In The Rule 5 Draft

Johnny Gray was selected as the Phillies first ever Rule 5 draftee two years after its inauguration during the 1957 off-season. Gray pitched in 33 games, 24 as a starter with the Philadelphia/Kansas City A’s and Cleveland, compiling a less than stellar 4-18 record. Drafted by the Phillies from Cleveland, he would appear in 16 games as a reliever, pitching his final game in June of 1958.

So goes the Rule 5 draft.

I liken the Rule 5 draft to the analogy of going to Walmart and attempting to find a good movie in the 5 dollar movie bin. Most of the movies you have never heard of. But, from looking at the cover you can guess what the movie will be about by reading the title or summary on the back. You can examine its cover art or see who the title actors are. The movies may or may not turn out to be any good. But, for five dollars and tax you pick up a DVD from the bin because you are more than willing to give the flick a try for its cheap price, even if it’s starring Vin Diesel as the Tooth Fairy.

Luckily for you, a watched DVD can be returned within 30 days to Walmart. You won’t have the burden of embarrassment of your friends seeing you owning a copy of Disney’s ‘The Tooth Fairy.’ For baseball teams, they have to keep their Rule 5 draftee on their major league roster for an entire season. The penalty for not doing so equates to the player being returned to the team from which he came – for free.

The Phillies have drafted 33 players since 1957 and have let 27 unprotected players get scooped up by other clubs. Most of the 60 players in total who have become beneficiaries/victims of the Rule 5 Draft you have never even heard of. Due to the vast amount of cinematic time bombs waiting to go off in the discount bin that is the Rule 5 draft, the potential of retaining a hidden gem or acquiring a blockbuster player on the cheap is the next door neighbor to impossible. Here are some of the Phillies best finds, regrettable retreats and resilient retreads .

Those Who Got Away

Greg Walker

  • 20th round selection in the 1977 amateur draft
  • Rule 5 draftee of the Chicago White Sox in 1979

Walker played all but two weeks of his 9 year career with the Chicago White Sox from 1982 through 1990. He platooned at first base for the 1983 season until winning the job in 1984. At the time, his 27 home runs in 1984 were the most home runs hit by a White Sox since Dick Allen’s 32 homers in 1974. In the field, Walker ranked in the top five in fielding percentage in 1984, 1985 and 1987. Wrist injuries coupled with bouts of seizures cut Walker’s career short at age 30. Greg Walker is currently the hitting coach of the White Sox, for now.

George Bell

  • signed as an amateur free agent in 1978
  • draftee by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1980

George Bell spend nine seasons in Toronto where the left fielder became a two time American League All Star and Silver Slugger Award winner. He also was the A.L.’s Most Valuable Player in 1987. In that year, he hit 47 home runs, 134 RBI and was a premier power hitter for a good portion of the late 1980’s. His brother Juan Bell was unable to replicate his performance with the Phillies. In 1993 he was replaced by Kevin Stocker as the clubs everyday shortstop. Baseball authoritarians believe that he (George, not Juan) was apart of one of the best outfields ever assembled along with Llotd Moseby and Jesse Barfield. But, I think Billy Hamilton, Ed Delahanty and Sam Thompson would have something to say about that. There was a rumor that Bell feuded with Steve Jeltz over who’s hair was both more curlier and wetter at all times. History shows that Steve Jeltz won.

Honorable Mentions of Rule 5 players drafted from the Phillies : Derrick Turnbow, Graeme Llyod, future baseball announcer Buck Martinez

Those With Staying Power

Clay Dalrymple

  • obtained by the Milwaukee Braves as part of a working agreement with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League in 1959
  • Rule 5 draftee of the Phillies in 1959

Clay Dalrymple was the starting catcher for the Phillies from 1961-1968. He was best known from his defensive prowess and bazooka-like throwing arm. He led the National League in assists during the 1963, 1965, 1967 seasons. Dalrymple is thought to be pivotal to the 1964 teams’ pitching success. The pitching staff posted a 3.36 ERA – which was squanderd thanks to second largest collapse in baseball history (thanks for taking that over Mets!) Following the 1968 season, Dalrymple requested a trade because the Philadelphia fans became ultra critical of his play. He was traded to Baltimore for the start of the 1969 season.

Dalrymple is responsible for breaking up both Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry no-hitters. He was the only person to ever get a hit off of Nolan Ryan in any of his World Series appearances.

Dave Hollins

  • 6th round selection by the San Diego Padres in the amateur draft
  • Rule 5 draftee of the Phillies in 1989

Dave Hollins will forever be known for three things.

1. Being the third basemen for the 1993 team
2. Threatening Greg Maddux in Spring Training to never throw a pitch at him again or he would knock his lights out.
3. Getting bit by a spider during the 2002 season which forced his retirement.

Hollins spent parts of six seasons with the Phillies during his 12 year career. He had two very productive offensive seasons in 1992 and 1993. As an All Star in 1993, Hollins had a putrid post season only amassing four hits. One of those hits was his memorable home run off of Greg Maddux during the clinching game of the NLCS. Dave Hollins also happens to be my favorite Phillies from the ’93 team. He is a bad, bad man. That criteria alone should be sufficient for all.

Shane Victorino

  • 6th round selection in the 1999 amateur draft by Los Angeles
  • Rule 5 draftee of San Diego in 2002
  • Returned to the Dodgers in 2003
  • Rule 5 draftee of the Phillies in 2004

The Flyin’ Hawaiian is the best Rule 5 draft pick in Phillies history. Victorino is a two time N.L. All Star and has taken home three Gold Glove awards. He is a World !@#$%^& Champion. Shane’s speed has made him a huge asset to the outfield defense. He is currently the leagues active leader in outfield fielding percentage (.995). On offense he utilizes his speed as a hard runner and base stealing threat. Shane is the clubs all-time post season RBI king. No matter if it’s the regular season or the playoffs, you can’t argue that he has a flare for the dramatic.

Honorable Mention: Jack Baldschun, Todd Pratt, Mike Mimbs, David Herndon

The Sequels

By either some sick design or dumb chance, the Phillies have had 11 players they’ve let go in the Rule 5 draft return to the team via trade or free agency. Most notable of these players are 1980 NLCS MVP Manny Trillo, who was originally drafted by the Phillies in 1968. Willie Hernandez was drafted in 1973 would return to pitch in relief for the Wheeze Kids in 1983. Released the following off-season, Hernandez would go on to win the World Series, AL Cy Young and MVP with the Tigers in 1984.

How does the story of a Rule 5 draftee end? Usually not well.

Roberto Clemente is the only Hall of Famer to be a Rule 5 selection. 24 players have played in the mid-summer classic. 1 won an MVP and Cy Young in the same season.

Then there is everyone else.

Jeremy Greenhouse of Baseball Analysts calls the Rule 5 draft “a boring draft [that] makes for boring analysis”. After reading this I bet you can see where he is coming from.

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