The Major League Baseball Rule 5 draft offers a chance for teams, like the Boston Red Sox, to put their scouting departments to good use and get their hands on diamonds in the rough.
The Red Sox did so most recently back in 2020, by selecting a pitcher from the archrival New York Yankees and turning him into an integral piece on the big-league club over the past two seasons.
That player was none other than Garrett Whitlock, who spent three years in the Yankees farm system before the Red Sox stole him away. Whitlock’s been a revelation so far in his brief tenure in Boston that MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo ranked Whitlock as the second-best Rule 5 draft pick over the last decade.
“The 2020 Rule 5 Draft went a little bit under the radar since there were no Winter Meetings for folks to attend in person. But there was still good talent to be found, led by Whitlock, the No. 4 pick of the Rule 5 Draft that year,” Mayo wrote. “He fought through a hip injury for much of 2022 before having surgery in late September but still proved to be valuable in a number of roles. He has a 2.73 ERA, .227 BAA, 1.062 WHIP and a 5.09 K/BB ratio in two seasons with Boston.”
Whitlock has been one of Boston’s best pitchers over the last two campaigns, especially when coming out of the bullpen. But the 26-year-old right-hander is getting set for a role change for the upcoming season.
The only player Mayo slotted ahead of Whitlock has a connection to the Red Sox. Closer Ryan Pressly, who won a World Series with the Houston Astros this past season, was originally drafted by Boston in the 11th round of the 2007 MLB Draft.
Pressly pitched in the Red Sox farm system for five years, getting as high as Double-A in 2012. Like Whitlock, Pressly went No. 4 overall in the Rule 5 draft in 2012 with the Minnesota Twins claiming him. Pressley pitched five-plus seasons for the Twins before getting dealt to the Astros. That’s where the righty has truly developed into one of the best relievers in baseball as he earned All-Star nods in 2019 and 2020.
While there are due to be more swings and misses when it comes to the Rule 5 draft, every once in a while a team can hit big, just like the Red Sox did with Whitlock.
This year’s Rule 5 draft is scheduled for Dec. 7.