Looking back on Rule 5 picks in White Sox history

Looking back on Rule 5 picks in White Sox history
March 1, 2013, 9:15 am
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Chris Kamka

The Rule 5 Draft is nothing new. In fact, the process of Major League teams drafting players from other organizations dates back to the late nineteenth century. For example, the Reds drafted Christy Mathewson from Norfolk (Virginia-North Carolina League) in 1900. An even better known example through the years is Roberto Clemente, who was plucked from the Dodgers system by the Pirates in 1954. For years, what we refer to now as the "Rule 5 Draft" was known as the "Minor League Draft." It wasn't until the Rule 4 draft (Amateur Draft) came along in 1965 that " Rule 5" became a common term.

The White Sox made some key acquisitions through the years via the Minor League Draft/Rule 5 Draft. Let's take a look at their best selections.

White Sox top Minor League Draft Picks (Rule 5) 1901-1958

- Ed Walsh (1903, from Newark, Eastern League): Hall of Fame hurler dominated batters with perhaps the best spitball ever thrown in Major League history. There will never be another season like his epic 1908 campaign: 40-15 in 464 innings.

- Frank Smith (1903 from Birmingham, Southern League): Fine 108-80 record with 2.18 ERA over seven seasons with White Sox. Nicknamed "Piano Mover" due to his self-professed ability to carry pianos up several flights of stairs.

- Buck Weaver (1910 from York, Tri-State League): Best known for being one of the "Eight Men Out." Solid player; played the first half of career at short, moved primarily to third in 1916. Only White Sox player to hit a homer off Babe Ruth.

- Reb Russell (1912 from Fort Worth, Texas League): Few made the dead ball deader. Allowed 7 HR in 1291 2/3 career innings with White Sox and went 80-59 with 2.33 ERA. Came back with the Pirates as an outfielder after a two-year hiatus in 1922.

- Fritz Dorish (1950 from St. Louis Browns): Stocky righthander excelled in relief for several years, with an occasional spot start. Very effective after learning a "slip pitch" (much like a palmball) from Sox pitching coach Ray Berres. 3.02 ERA (129 ERA+) in five seasons with Sox.

With the "Bonus Baby Boom" beginning in the late 1940s, players given large bonuses were required to be kept on Major League rosters in order to avoid being subject to the Minor League Draft. In 1959, the "First-Year Rule" was put into effect, making any player who had completed one year in pro ball available to be drafted. This was done to make owners reluctant to hand out huge bonuses in the first place; now that they were at risk of losing their bonus players after just one year.

White Sox top Minor League Draft Picks (Rule 5) 1959-1964

- Rudy May (First-Year Rule, 1963 from Twins): 152 wins and a 102 ERA+ over 16 seasons. Unfortunately none of them came with the Sox. They traded him to the Phillies (who also traded him before he made his major league debut) for Bill Heath (one AB with the Sox) and a player to be named later (who never made the majors).

- Ed Herrmann (First-Year Rule, 1964 from Braves): Herrmann played six full seasons (and two games in 1967) as a solid backstop who was good at handling Wilbur Wood's knuckleball. Selected to 1974 All-Star Game.

Since Herrmann, there hasn't been been much success in the Rule 5 (or in other words, since it's been called the "Rule 5"):

White Sox top Rule 5 Picks 1965-present

- Bruce Kimm (1979, from Cubs): The 2002 Cubs interim manager finished his playing career with one season on the Southside, hitting .243 without a longball in 100 games.

- Bobby Bonilla (1985, from Pirates): This could have been the best on the list. Unfortunately, Bucs GM Syd Thrift realized he shouldn't have let the future All-Star go and dealt Jose DeLeon to then-Sox GM Hawk Harrelson in July 1986.

- Jason Grilli (2003, from Marlins): Grilli is the only White Sox Rule 5 acquisition to play for the Southsiders since Bonilla. He made eight appearances with the 2004 White Sox (all starts) and posted a 7.40 ERA in 45.0 IP (for what it's worth the White Sox were .500 in games Grilli started). Also, Grilli has the most career starts by a White Sox pitcher without a quality start. He's since turned into a decent reliever for the Pirates.

[Related: Sanchez isn't a typical Rule 5 draftee]

And here we are. Angel Sanchez will get his chance to add his name to the list of best Rule 5 picks in White Sox history in 2013.