LAS VEGAS - The winter meetings will conclude Thursday (noon EST) with the Rule 5 draft.
This is the event in which the Phillies once landed Shane Victorino, Odubel Herrera and Dave Hollins. It is how they lost MVP George Bell. It is how the Pittsburgh Pirates landed Roberto Clemente in 1954.
The draft works this way: A player must be added to his team's 40-man roster after his third or fourth year in pro ball, depending on the age at which he signed his first pro contract. If he is not protected, he can be selected by another club for $100,000. That player must then be added to the new club's 40-man roster and stay there all season or be offered back to his old club for $50,000.
In anticipation of the Rule 5 draft, the Phillies added three young prospects to their 40-man roster in November - pitchers Edgar Garcia and Adonis Medina and middle infielder Arquimedes Gamboa. All three of those players will be in big-league spring training camp in February.
Notable players who were not protected and are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft Thursday include outfielder Jose Pujols, catcher Deivi Grullon and lefty reliever Tyler Gilbert.
Pujols, who turned 23 in September, was the Florida State League player of the year in 2018. He hit .301 with 18 homers, 58 RBIs and an .887 OPS in 95 games at Single A Clearwater. However, he struck out 127 times in 352 at-bats. It might be difficult for him to survive on a big-league bench with that many strikeouts.
Grullon, a rugged 22-year-old, hit .273 with 21 homers, 59 RBIs and an .825 OPS in 90 games at Double A Reading. Catching is a premium position and Grullon has impressive power. There's a chance he could be selected. If he is not, he will likely be in Triple A with the Phils in 2019.
A number of baseball people think the Phillies could lose Gilbert because he profiles as a lefty specialist and could more easily be stashed in the deep bullpens that teams carry these days.
Gilbert, who turns 25 this month, was the Phils' sixth-round pick in 2015 out of USC. He had a 3.25 ERA in 48 games at Double A and Triple A in 2018. He struck out 69 and walked 15 in 69⅓ innings and lefty batters were just 15 for 89 (.169) against him.
The Phillies have the 13th pick in the draft, but it's not clear if they will make a selection.
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