The last-minute rules and regulations that drastically changed the protection rules were expected to turn the 2006 Rule 5 draft into a marked non-event. In a nutshell, the new rules meant that only a handful of players who had not been eligible to be taken in 2005 would now be available in the December draft.
The joking and chatter around the Lake Buena Vista Dolphin Hotel, where Major and Minor League front office people gathered, revolved around the "over/under" regarding how many players would be taken in the Major League phase of the draft (the popular answer, by the way, was six).
Those who bet the over were winners, as a shocking 19 players changed hands in the Major League phase, which went three rounds. Of that group, 10 made Opening Day rosters, with another three currently residing on those teams' disabled lists. Once back to full health, those three must remain on their new club's 25-man roster for 90 days or else they will be offered back to their original team.
Here is a quick look at that group of 19, the winners and...well...not-winners (there are no losers on Opening Day) and how they fared this spring.
1. RYAN GOLESKI, OF, to Oakland from Cleveland. Returned to Cleveland.
Taken by Tampa Bay with the first pick and then sent in a pre-arranged deal to Oakland, Goleski may have been the odd man out in a crowded Indians outfield prospect picture, but his numbers certainly had people talking as he combined to hit .306 with a .557 slugging percentage (27 homers and 106 RBIs) between Advanced A Kinston and Double-A Akron.
Expected to win the fourth outfield spot with the Athletics, it was discovered after the draft that Goleski was rehabbing from a right wrist injury which cut into his workout time in the offseason. The 24th-rounder from 2003 was healthy by the time Spring Training rolled around but struggled with the bat in big-league camp, hitting just .152 in 46 at-bats over 21 games. He did not make the club and was returned to the Indians.
With a loaded outfield of older veterans at Triple-A Buffalo, Goleski will return to Akron to start the season where he will add even more firepower to a team that may be one of the best in the Minors on paper as he joins Trevor Crowe and Brian Barton in the outfield.
2. JOAKIM SORIA, RHP, to Kansas City from San Diego. Made club. (Did not pitch on Opening Night).
Soria had been the buzz of the pre-draft chatter and was rumored to be the first overall pick but he slipped to the Royals and made the club's bullpen, though don't rule out a move to the Royals' rotation this season.
He slipped through the cracks somewhat in 2006 as he spent much of his time pitching in the Mexican League, combining to go 1-0 with a 3.51 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 49 innings between Mexico City and the Class A Fort Wayne Wizards.
He really got on the radar screen, however, during winter ball as he flashed his lively low 90s fastball. Two days after the draft he tossed just the third perfect game in Mexican Winter League history.
A reliever for now, he certainly was the talk of Spring Training when he made a start against Colorado and pitched four scoreless innings of one-hit ball, showing outstanding command.
3. JOSH HAMILTON, OF, to Cincinnati from Tampa Bay. Made club. (Pinch-hit and went 0-for-1, staying in to play left field in the Reds' 5-1 victory over the Cubs on Opening Day).
He may not have been the first pick this time, but the former No. 1 draft pick was certainly the biggest news of the Rule 5 draft. Taken by the Cubs and shipped to the Reds in a pre-arranged trade, the 25-year-old Hamilton seems to have conquered the injury and substance abuse demons that derailed a promising career and has found new life with the Reds.
His appearance in the Reds' season opener marked his Major League debut almost eight years after being the first player taken overall in the 1999 amateur draft.
Last year, Hamilton returned to the field with the Devil Rays' short-season Hudson Valley club after three years away from the game, hitting .260 in 50 at-bats before a knee injury derailed him.
The Reds would appear to be a perfect fit for Hamilton. Manager Jerry Narron's brother Johnny was Hamilton's coach in youth ball. He fits in as a fourth outfielder who can play all three positions, and there is no reason to think his across-the-board tools are not still present and accounted for as long as he stays healthy and straight.
4. SEAN WHITE, RHP, to Seattle from Atlanta. Made club. (Did not pitch Opening Day).
Drafted by Pittsburgh and traded to the Mariners, it is a homecoming for White, a Seattle kid who pitched for the University of Washington. With Double-A Mississippi last season, he was 5-6 with a 4.40 ERA, walking 43 and striking out 73 in 102 innings while giving up 124 hits.
He had been something of an underachiever in his pro career due to inconsistencies with his mechanics, he has good stuff, highlighted by a lively fastball in the low 90s and an improving changeup. He showed his upside with a 1.59 ERA this spring to earn a spot in the Mariners' bullpen.
5. ALFREDO SIMON, RHP, to Philadelphia from Texas. Returned to Texas.
Signed by the Rangers as a six-year free agent, Simon was drafted just a few days later by the Orioles, who swapped him to the Phillies for another Rule 5 pick, catcher Adam Donachie (who did not make the Orioles either).
Simon was once a very highly regarded prospect who never quite lived up to billing, combining to go 2-10 with a 6.62 ERA for the Giants organization last year between Class A - Advanced San Jose and Triple-A Fresno. His fastball hovers in the mid 90s but he has still not developed reliable secondary offerings.
This spring, he posted a 12.46 ERA in three outings before being offered back to Texas.
6. JESUS FLORES, C, to Washington from New York Mets. Made club. (Did not play Opening Day).
One of the best pure prospects, Flores was left surprisingly unprotected in the draft. The Nationals wasted no time grabbing the power-hitting catcher and making him their backup to starter Brian Schneider.
The Venezuelan-born 22-year-old hit .266 with 21 homers and 70 RBIs for the Class A Advanced St. Lucie, putting on a show in the Home Run Derby prior to the Florida State League All-Star Game. He tied for that league's lead in homers on the season as well.
A fine catch-and-throw prospect, he was certainly a familiar face to new Nationals manager Manny Acta, who was formerly a coach in the Mets' system.
He tore up spring pitching to the tune of a .500 average, and while he may not see a lot of time at the plate or behind it this season, he projects as the club's catcher of the future.
7. EDWARD CAMPUSANO, LHP, to Detroit from Chicago Cubs. Placed on 15-day DL ("Tommy John" surgery).
Drafted by Milwaukee and swapped to Detroit, the southpaw collected 25 saves and posted a 1.46 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 55 innings between Class A Peoria and Double-A West Tenn in 2006.
Now the Tigers just have to wait out the year, at least, for him to return from Tommy John surgery and see what they have when he gets back.
8. JARED BURTON, RHP, to Cincinnati from Oakland. Made club. (Did not pitch on Opening day).
The Reds definitely made out in the Rule 5 draft, with two players sticking on their 25-man roster (Burton and Hamilton). An effective reliever, Burton posted a 4.14 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 74 innings at Double-A Midland for the Athletics last year.
He has closer potential stuff in his fastball and slider and, right now, the Reds don't really have a lights-out closer, so keeping Burton around could end up with nice payoff someday.
9. LINCOLN HOLDZKOM, RHP, to Houston from Chicago Cubs. Returned to Cubs.
Once a prospect in the Marlins system, Holdzkom came back from Tommy John surgery and posted a 1.76 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 46 innings in the Cubs organization last year, most of the time spent at Double-A West Tenn. He is expected to return to Double-A this year with the Cubs' new affiliate at Tennessee.
10. ADAM DONACHIE, C, to Baltimore from Kansas City. Returned to Kansas City.
Taken by the Phillies and swapped for fellow Rule 5 pick pitcher Alfredo Simon, Donachie was one of the later cuts from spring camp. He hit .247 between Class A Advanced High Desert and Double-A Wichita in 2006, making his name as a fine defensive catcher.
11. NICK DeBARR, RHP, to Boston from Tampa Bay. Returned to Tampa Bay.
DeBarr was 4-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 69 innings at Class A Advanced Visalia, an impressive ERA in the California League, walking just 17 while striking out 61 with a fastball in the 90s and a good slider.
He was sent back to the Devil Rays on March 13 in one of the first waves of cuts.
12. JASON SMITH, SS, to Toronto from Chicago Cubs. Made club. (Pinch ran and scored a run in the Blue Jays' 5-3 victory over Detroit on Opening Day).
Smith spent 2006 with the Colorado organization, hitting .291 at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but had just signed with the Cubs as a six-year free agent when drafted by the Blue Jays as a versatile veteran utility infielder.
He's seen time in the bigs with four other clubs and can play all four infield positions.
13. KEVIN CAMERON, RHP, to San Diego from Minnesota. Made club. (San Diego did not play on Opening Day).
Working in the Triple-A Rochester bullpen in 2006, Cameron was 6-4 with a 2.98 ERA, collecting nine saves as he struck out 65 batters over 66 innings. He was a longshot to make the Padres bullpen coming into Spring Training, but a fine camp earned him one of the two final spots.
It's been five years since shoulder surgery sidelined him, and in that time he's refined a mid-90s fastball, cutter and slider, all of which looked good and often great this spring.
14. JAY MARSHALL, LHP, to Oakland from Chicago White Sox. Made club. (Finished out the game with one-third of an inning in a 4-0 loss to Seattle on Opening Day).
The sidearming southpaw had an outstanding 2006 season at Class A - Advanced Winston-Salem, going 5-1 with a 1.02 ERA, walking eight and striking out 44 in 62 innings as a left-handed specialist. He limited left-handed hitters to an .096 average in that role, the same role he'll fill in the Oakland bullpen, three levels higher, to start 2007.
15. ALEJANDRO MACHADO, IF, to Minnesota from Washington. Placed on 15-day DL (labrum surgery).
Machado had signed with the Nationals as a Minor League free agent prior to the draft after spending 2006 with the Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate at Pawtucket. He hit .260 there with 21 steals.
Out indefinitely, and likely for the entire 2007 season, the Rule 5 clock will start on him with the Twins once he returns from his surgery and rehab.
16. JOSH PHELPS, 1B, to New York Yankees from Baltimore. Made club. (Phelps started at first base in the Yankees' 9-5 Opening Day win over Tampa Bay, drawing a pair of walks and making an error before yielding to Doug Mientkiewicz).
Like several of the other picks, Phelps had just signed with a club (in this case, the Baltimore Orioles) as a Minor League free agent when plucked by another team in the Rule 5 draft.
In the past, the Yankees had not been a big player in Rule 5 action, but they clearly knew what they wanted this time, as Phelps not only made the team but was the starting first baseman on Opening Day (surely a first for this historic team).
The well-traveled veteran batted .308 with 24 homers for Triple-A Toledo in the Detroit farm system in 2006, driving in 90 runs. He's spent parts of six seasons in the Majors, as recently as 2005, and could provide a very solid right-handed bat off the bench in New York.
Phelps won the last spot on the club when he beat out Andy Phillips on one of the final days of Spring Training after batting .400.
17. LEVALE SPEIGNER, RHP, to Washington from Minnesota. Made club. (The second of four pitchers in a 9-2 loss to Florida on Opening Day, he allowed one run on three hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings, striking out one).
The first player taken in the second round of the draft, Speigner is one of two "keepers" on the Nationals' roster and saw time in the bigs right away. Between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester in the Twins organization last summer, he posted a 3.57 ERA as he walked 19 and struck out 45 in 71 innings.
He throws a low 90s fastball and a curveball, and earned his spot honestly as he tossed 11 2/3 scoreless innings this spring.
Though he made the club as a reliever, he could also fill in as a spot starter if needed, and given the Nationals' thin pitching ranks, that is not out of the question.
18. JIM ED WARDEN, RHP, to Philadelphia from Cleveland. Returned to Cleveland.
Both Indians players taken in the draft have been returned to the organization as Philadelphia opted against holding on to the 6-foot-7 right-hander.
Warden posted a 2.90 ERA and 11 saves at Double-A Akron in 2006, walking 29 and scattering 35 hits over 59 innings while striking out 47. He throws a low 90s fastball from a three-quarters delivery, coupled with a slider and changeup.
With the Phillies this spring, he posted a 5.68 ERA in seven outings.
19. RYAN BUDDE, C, to Philadelphia from Anaheim. Placed on 15-day DL (strained intercostal muscle).
The lone player taken in the third round, to wrap up the Major League portion of the draft, Budde hit .233 in part-time play at Triple-A Salt Lake in 2006. He's known for his defensive acumen.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com.