Baseball's winter meetings will, as usual, end with the Rule 5 draft on Thursday.
First, the scene — at least in a typical year:
The event usually takes place at 9 a.m., local time, in a huge ballroom at whatever hotel is hosting the meetings. A handful of officials from each team sit at tables in front of laptop computers while a representative from Major League Baseball moderates the event from a dais, calling on each team to make a pick in inverse order of that season's standings.
While all this goes on, the outer rim of the room is filled with hundreds of other team and league officials, scouts, agents and media members. All are sipping on 16-ounce coffees. The draft, which consists of a major-league phase and a minor-league phase, moves quickly and is usually over in less than an hour.
It's a mad dash to the airport.
After four days of breathing recycled hotel air, people can't wait to get out of there.
This year it's different.
The in-person winter meetings, scheduled to be held in Dallas, were canceled because of the pandemic and replaced with remote meetings
Thursday's Rule 5 draft will be held remotely and via conference call. There will still be coffee, if one chooses, though not for $8.50 in the hotel lobby. There will be no mad dash for the airport because everyone will already be at home.
Anyway, the Phillies have a long history of doing business in the Rule 5 draft, and they've snagged some pretty good players, from Dave Hollins to Shane Victorino to Ender Inciarte and Odubel Herrera, in the event. They also lost a pretty good one in future American League MVP George Bell. Crafty Pat Gillick and the Toronto Blue Jays plucked him out of the Phillies system in 1980.
The Phillies will pick 13th in this draft. They have two openings on their 40-man roster so they have room to make a pick or two. They tend to like to make at least one pick.
Players who signed their first pro contract when they were 19 or older and have played for four years, or players who signed their first pro contract when they were 18 or younger and have played five years are eligible for the Rule 5 draft — unless they are protected on a team's 40-man roster. It costs $100,000 to draft a player. Players who are selected must spend the next season in the majors or be offered back for $50,000 to the team from which they were drafted.
The Phillies added six young players to their roster last month to shield them from being selected. Four of them were pitchers — Damon Jones, Kyle Dohy, Francisco Morales and Bailey Falter. In addition, the Phils protected outfielder Simon Muzziotti and infielder Nick Maton.
On the list of unprotected players that the Phils could lose, there are a couple that stand out. Given the state of pitching and the need for depth, a club could take a chance on right-hander Enyel de los Santos, who has big-league time with the Phillies but was knocked off the 40-man roster last summer. Lefty reliever Zach Warren, whose high strikeout totals in the low minors earned him an invite to big-league spring training camp last year, could also intrigue another club.
Other notable Phillies pitchers who are eligible to be picked include lefty starter David Parkinson and right-hander Kevin Gowdy, the team's second-round draft pick in 2016. Gowdy was a highly touted high school pitcher on his way to UCLA before the Phillies drafted him. He has pitched just 86 pro innings because of an arm injury and would be a long shot for selection.
Position players who are eligible to be selected include first baseman Darick Hall, infielder Arquimedes Gamboa, catcher Rodolfo Duran and outfielders Austin Listi and Jhailyn Ortiz.