During the MLB lockout there’s no major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, at least not yet. But on Wednesday, the minor league Rule 5 Draft was held, involving players not on 40-man rosters. The Dodgers drafted three players in the minor league draft, most notably pitcher Carson Fulmer.
Fulmer was plucked from the Reds in the second round of the Rule 5 Draft, after taking catcher Kekai Rios from the Brewers in the first round. The Dodgers in the third round took right-handed pitcher Jon Duplantier, who like Fulmer pitched in the majors in 2021, from the Giants.
Unlike the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, players picked on the minor league side aren’t required to spend time on the major league roster. This is simply a transfer of players from the minor league side of one organization to another.
Fulmer was the eighth overall draft pick in 2015 by the White Sox, but in parts of six seasons in the majors with Chicago, the Tigers, Orioles, and Reds, the right-hander has a 6.41 ERA with 118 strikeouts (a 19.2-percent strikeout rate) in 130⅔ innings. Fulmer had a 4.61 ERA and 27.3-percent strikeout rate in 41 innings with Triple-A Louisville.
The Dodgers seem to be collecting former 2015 first-round picks. Fulmer joins Walker Buehler, the Dodgers’ own pick that year at 24th overall, along with No. 18 pick Phil Bickford and No. 22 Beau Burrows, the latter signed to a minor league contract in November.
If the Dodgers coaches and development staff can replicate the success they had with Bickford — a May waiver claim who proved durable and pitched in high-leverage innings into October — with either Fulmer or Burrows, that would be a boon to the pitching depth.
Or maybe the Dodgers just really enjoyed watching the 2015 College World Series. In addition to drafting Buehler that year, they also drafted his Vanderbilt teammate Phil Pfeifer in the third round. Fellow 2015 Commodores were drafted by the Dodgers in the first round the next two years, with Jordan Sheffield taken in 2016 and Jeren Kendall in 2017. Now, they have Fulmer. The Dodgers in 2015 also drafted Josh Sborz, the Virginia right-hander who was named Most Outstanding Player in that year’s College World Series.
Duplantier, now 27, was hit around in his four starts with the Diamondbacks in 2021, allowing 19 runs in 13 innings, including five home runs. In between injured list stints, the right-hander only pitched four times in the minors last year, allowing seven runs in eight innings between Triple-A and a rehab outing in the Arizona Complex League.
The Giants signed Duplantier to a minor league contract on Friday, but did not place him on the Triple-A reserve list, making him available in the Rule 5 Draft. Fulmer was also not on Cincinnati’s Triple-A reserve list, nor was catcher Kekai Rios with the Brewers.
Rios hit .270/.357/.410 with eight doubles, three home runs, and a 112 wRC+ in 42 games with High-A Wisconsin in 2021. He only has six games experience above Class-A, going 2-for-19 in a brief stint with Double-A Biloxi last season. Rios turns 25 in June.
The Dodgers also lost a pair of players in Wednesday’s minor league Rule 5 Draft.
Pitcher Nelfri Contreras, who had a 3.80 ERA with 47 strikeouts and 25 walks in 47⅓ innings with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga last year, is now a Cardinals minor leaguer. He originally signed with the Dodgers as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2017.
Venezuelan shortstop Carlos Santiago, who hit .168/.237/.305 in the Arizona Complex League and just turned 20 in July, is now in the Marlins organization.