Phillies opt out of MLB Rule 5 Draft, focus on system depth with 5 minor league picks

After foregoing their selection in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings, the Phillies found several organizational pieces in the minor league phase.

Midland RockHounds v Frisco Roughriders
Midland RockHounds v Frisco Roughriders / John E. Moore III/GettyImages
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The Rule 5 Draft is an opportunity for teams to find hidden talent across other organizations, or for players who are log-jammed in one team's system to get their chance to shine somewhere else.

Any player who isn't on the 40-man roster and has been in their system for four to five years (depending on age) is eligible to be selected. The teams who select said player must keep them on the Major League active roster for the entire season. Once the team foregoes their selection, they are done for the draft.

In what is a hilarious snippet of the draft, the Philadelphia Phillies decided that there was no talent within the Rule 5 Draft that would be able to stay on their active roster and make an impact throughout the season, and passed on the MLB phase completely.

Immediately following the MLB phase, there is a minor league phase where any player who meets the same requirements as the MLB portion but is also not on the team's 40-man roster can be selected with no roster requirements. They can join the new team and enter at any level.

This phase is where the Phillies were active, selecting five players, including three catchers, in an obvious attempt to bolster the organizational depth at a highly touted position.

While the Phillies didn't make a selection in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 Draft, just like 19 other teams, their five selections in the minor league portion tied for the most picks with the Miami Marlins. It will be interesting to see over the next few years if a change of scenery helps to develop any of these young players into serviceable Major Leaguers.

Round 1: William Simoneit, C/1B (OAK)

The 27-year-old spent his entire 2023 in the Double-A Texas League with the Midland Rockhounds. Over 72 games, he posted a .713 OPS with seven homers. Simoneit played 41 games at first base, with 30 behind the plate and one in the DH spot. Over his minor league career, he has posted a slash line of .259/.359/.408 with a .996 fielding percentage.

Round 2: Luis Caicuto, C (ARI)

Originally from Venezuela, Caicuto has spent his three-year career at the Arizona Diamondbacks' Rookie level, posting a .300 batting average in only 46 games. The 20-year-old was signed as an international free agent in 2019 and is still in the developmental stage of his career. Over those three seasons, he has played 29 games at catcher and tallied a caught-stealing percentage of 22 percent with 10 runners thrown out.

Round 3: Carson Taylor, C (LAD)

Taylor, who has been a part of the Los Angeles Dodgers system for the past six seasons, spent the last two years in Tulsa with the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate. With the Drillers, Taylor routinely started behind the plate, with games also logged at first base and DH. He has hit 23 homers and driven in 103 runs over his three minor league seasons and posted a slash line of .252/.340/.382.

Round 4: Trevor Schwecke, SS (TOR)

The former Toronto Blue Jays prospect split time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2023, posting an overall slash line of .278/.370/.431. Schwecke's value comes however in his positional flexibility, logging multiple games at first base, second base, third base, left field, right field, shortstop, and even pitcher. The 25-year-old has played almost every position in every level of the minor leagues.

Round 5: Bryce Ball, 1B (CLE)

Ball, who was once traded by the Atlanta Braves for Joc Pederson, spent time with two organizations in 2023 (CHC, CLE). In his four-year minor league career, the 25-year-old posted a .250/.351/.427 slash line and hit 50 homers while driving in 230 runs. Ball has only played first base and DH during his time in the minors but has shown some pop with his 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame.

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