Phillies legend Shane Victorino shares sweetest message on the anniversary of Rule 5 Draft that changed his life
For many prospects, the Rule 5 draft is a jumble of hope and rejection. On the one hand, your franchise did not see fit to protect you; on the other hand, a new franchise sees promise in you.
For Shane Victorino, the 2004 Rule 5 Draft was his last chance. It also wasn’t his first Rule 5 rodeo; the San Diego Padres had selected him in 2002 when he was a Los Angeles Dodgers prospect.
Victorino made his debut with the Padres in April 2003, but they returned him to the Dodgers by the end of May. He labored in their farm system for two more seasons before being selected by the Phillies on December 13, 2004.
However, the Phillies also tried to send him back. Had the Dodgers accepted, it would have dramatically altered the course of Phillies franchise history.
On Monday, the Phillies paid tribute to the anniversary on Twitter and Instagram:
And then Victorino shared a heartfelt message of his own, reposting the Phillies’ tribute to his stories:
Victorino also quote-tweeted the Phillies and took the time to reply to some of the fans who shared their favorite memories:
By 2006, Victorino was a starter. In 2007, he hit a walk-off home run on Shane Victorino Day, with his father in the stands all the way from Maui.
During the Phillies’ 2008 postseason run, Victorino played a key role. He hit a grand slam in the NLDS, and a home run in the NLCS. During the pennant series, he found out that his grandmother had passed away. Carrying that pain with him, he continued to contribute to his team, and they won their second World Series in franchise history.
Overall that postseason, he had 14 hits in 14 games, including three doubles, a triple, a pair of home runs, five runs scored, and 13 driven in. He walked more than he struck out, and was also intentionally walked four times.
By the end of his eight years with the Phillies, Victorino was a two-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove (consecutively), and a World Series champion. The Padres and Dodgers had to be kicking themselves.
After stints with the Dodgers, Red Sox, Angels, and Cubs, Victorino signed with the Phillies again in August 2018. This time, it was a one-day contract so that he could retire with the team that gave him a chance to live out his dreams.
On that day, he also “Mahalo, Philly,” to an emotional crowd at Citizens Bank Park.
The 2021 Rule 5 Draft was indefinitely postponed due to the MLB lockout
Victorino has long been vocal about the importance of the annual team-switching draft, which did not take place this season due to the lockout (the minor-league aspect still took place):
"“I’m a big advocate, a big fan of that draft. I’m an advocate for anything where a kid gets an opportunity. For me, it happened twice.”Victorino to ESPN in 2013"
In recent years, other Rule 5 Draft picks have made headlines as well, including Blue Jays legend Jose Bautista and Garrett Whitlock, whom the Red Sox claimed from the Yankees in 2020. He had a stellar debut season and postseason with Boston in 2021. But there aren’t many prospect stories with as many twists and turns as Victorino’s that turn out as happily as his did.