Look After Your Own: Dodgers Protect Two Double-A Hurlers from Rule 5 Draft

Will GrapperhausContributor IIINovember 22, 2012

photo by Tim Evearitt
photo by Tim Evearitt

Rule 5 draft diamonds are few and far between. MVP-caliber players like Josh Hamilton and Johann Santana, both Rule 5 draftees, may come along once or twice a generation.

With talent evaluation as competitive as ever, the odds your team will snag an All-Star via Rule 5 are virtually nil. But you can bet every team needs to make sure it doesn't lose a diamond in the rough that was laying around in its own backyard.

On Tuesday, the Dodgers added two under-the-radar pitchers to the 40-man roster, both righties with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts: starter Matt Magill and closer Steve Ames.

Baseball clubs are always tempted to grab two types of players in this draft: highly-athletic position players who may be late bloomers and pitchers who, well, can get batters out consistently.

All kidding aside, franchises are quickly learning that stockpiling quality pitchers is the best way to lay a strong foundation for your minor league system. And in the Dodgers' case, it's a system that has been depleted by the flurry of high-profile trades the club has made in the past year.

Neither Ames nor Magill has been close to being ranked among the Dodgers' top 10 prospects, but both pitchers have established a pattern success clubs can't ignore. They don't have big arms, but both have multi-year runs of success going. 

And that is precisely why the Dodgers needed to protect these pitchers.

Magill just turned 23, so he still has the value of a prospect. He was 11-8 in 2012 with a 3.75 ERA and had an impressive 168 strikeouts in 146.1 innings. Even more impressive, he only surrendered eight home runs this year.

Meanwhile, Ames will be 25 when the season starts, but he still has a lot of value as a reliable bullpen arm. Positioned as a closer since he broke into the pros, Ames had his best season yet—a 3-3 record, 1.56 ERA and 18 saves. He had a nice 72-13 K-BB ratio with just two homers surrendered.

Even if they never become permanent residents in Los Angeles, Magill and Ames are quality arms that bring value and depth to the Dodgers' rebuilding effort.