MLB Rule 5 Draft 2017: Date, Start Time, Format and Top Prospects

Each year when the Rule 5 Draft rolls around, a few of the teams in Major League Baseball look for a steal that could help their respective rosters for the next season. 

Although wading through the available prospects to find the hidden gems may be tough, there are plenty of teams who have found success during the Rule 5 Draft. 

Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana and Shane Victorino are just a few of the success stories to come out of the process.

When the selection process comes around in a week's time, teams will be hoping they can add their 2017 pick to the list of impact selections. 

        

Date: December 14

Start Time: 9 a.m. ET 

             

Format

The order for the Rule 5 Draft is the same used for the MLB Draft, with the team that has the worst record the previous year earning the No. 1 position, per MLB.com

 

Players who were signed at age 18 and have spent five years in professional baseball along with those who signed at age 19 and have been professionals for four years are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. 

Teams can only select players if they have a space on their 40-man roster, and selections are not mandatory. If a pick is made, the drafting team has to pay $100,000 to the team it chose the player from. 

Players selected in the Rule 5 Draft will be automatically added to the team's 25-man roster for the 2018 season. If the player clears waivers at any point in 2018, he is required to be offered back to his former team in exchange for $50,000. If the former team chooses not to reacquire the player, then he's allowed to be outrighted to the minor leagues.

          

Top Prospects

Mark Appel 

The name that stands out immediately on the list of available prospects is Mark Appel, who was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros. 

The 26-year-old righthander has bounced around in the minor leagues, with his most recent stop coming at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the Philadelphia Phillies system.

Appel was designated for assignment after the 2017 season and no team decided to take a chance on him, which could lead to him not being chosen in the Rule 5 Draft as well. 

Regardless of what recently happened when the Phillies designated him for assignment, Appel is the most curious case of the available players since he is a former No. 1 overall pick. 

A team may take a flyer on the Stanford University product to see if he can reach his potential and make an impact in the major leagues. Sometimes it just takes the right general manager and coaching staff to get the best out of the player, or to see something a previous staff didn't.

There's no doubt Appel is the most intriguing player in the selection pool, but he could also be the riskiest given his 24-18 all-time record in the minor leagues and a career ERA of 5.06.

             

Kohl Stewart

The fourth overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft is also available for selection in the Rule 5 Draft,

Kohl Stewart, who has spent his whole career in the Minnesota Twins organization, primarily played for Double-A Chattanooga in 2017, where he posted a 5-6 record and a 4.09 ERA in 77 innings of work. 

Stewart does have a career ERA of 3.03, but he's been hurt by injuries, including a knee problem that put him on the disabled list twice in 2017.

One of the 23-year-old's biggest strengths is his sinker, and he could be an option for a team in search of a ground-ball pitcher. 

The recent injuries could scare prospective suitors away, but Stewart's also proved he can produce when healthy. In 2016, he went 12-8 with a 2.88 ERA for Chattanooga and Single-A Fort Myers. 

              

Max Pentecost

Injuries are a familiar story for the players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, and Max Pentecost is another high draft pick who has failed to stay healthy on his quest to make the majors. 

The No. 11 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays has dealt with shoulder issues throughout his career, but he could be a low-risk, high-reward pick for a team looking for help at catcher and/or first base. 

For as intriguing as a prospect the 24-year-old is, though, he hasn't played more than 74 games in a season in his career. 

In 2016, Pentecost hit .302 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI in 74 games spread across Single-A Lansing and Single-A Dunedin. In 71 games in the Florida State League with Dunedin in 2017, the right-handed hitter belted nine home runs and drove in 54 runs. 

The production seems to be there when Pentecost is healthy, but the risk for teams would be taking a player who hasn't made it past Single-A with lingering shoulder issues. 

              

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

All statistics obtained from baseball-reference.com.

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