Minnesota Twins: The Best and the Worst of the Twins Rule 5 Draft History

Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins pitches in a game against Cleveland. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins pitches in a game against Cleveland. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers center fielder Akil Baddoo hustles out a ball against Cleveland . /

Minnesota Twins Worst Rule 5 Losses

Akil Baddoo: I understand the Twins’ logic when they decided to leave Akil Baddoo unprotected in 2020. He played more than 38 games just once in his minor league career and even underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019. He was 22 and failed to play above High-A. It’s safe to assume the Twins thought if a team were to take Baddoo, they’d probably return him anyways.

You don’t need me to tell you that’s not what happened. The Tigers took the young outfielder third overall, and he played well enough to lock up a starting role midseason. You might think this is recency bias, but there’s no denying that Baddoo outplayed the Rule 5 draft pick expectations. He ended up with a .259/.330/.436 slash line, 13 home runs, and 18 stolen bases.

Even if he’s an average hitter the rest of his career, that’s much more than the Tigers could have hoped for, especially with his speed and raw power. Baddoo will remind the Twins what they lost every time they meet.

Rudy May: Rudy May was a left-handed pitcher who amassed a sixteen year MLB career. but he got his start signing with the Twins as an amateur free agent in 1962. He spent the 1963 season, at age 18, with the Bismarck-Mandan Pards, the Twins A-Ball team at the time, posting a 4.29 ERA and wasn’t added to the 40-man roster that offseason.

The rules were a bit different back then, and May was grabbed by the White Sox in the first-year player draft, almost identical to the Rule 5 Draft. He wound up making his major league debut in 1965 with the California Angels before making stops with the Yankees, Expos, and Orioles.

May ended up with a 3.46 ERA (99 ERA-), 3.38 FIP (94 FIP-), 12 saves, and a 36.3 WAR in 2622 innings and 535 games. There were a few dominant seasons during his career, particularly in ‘79 and ‘80 when he posted a 2.31 and 2.46 ERA, respectively, appearing mostly as a reliever.

The lefty was never an All-Star and never placed in the Cy Young voting. Regardless, his above-average numbers and longevity help him stand out from the usual Rule 5 draftee.

Reggie Smith: The Twins lost a lot of talent in 1963. Like May, Reggie Smith was taken in that year’s first-year player draft after spending one season in the Twins system. The Red Sox snagged him, and the rest is history.

Not only is he the best player Twin ever picked in the draft, but he’s one of the best all-time. He played 17 seasons, compiling a .287/.366/.489 slash line, 314 home runs, 137 stolen bases, and was a plus defender. Add it all up, and it was good for a 64.6 career fWAR.

Smith was a seven-time All-Star, placed in the MVP voting seven times, including two fourth-place finishes, was awarded a Gold Glove in ‘68, and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1967. In ’88, he was a World Series champion while still a member of the Red Sox. The BBWAA included him on the 1988 Hall of Fame ballot, but he didn’t receive enough support to stay on for the following year. He currently stands as one of the best outfielders not in the Hall.

No matter which way you look at it, Smith was a star and someone who could’ve elevated the Twins in the 1970s, when the playoffs were a rare occurrence for the organization.

Next. Minnesota Twins: Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat finally get the HOF call. dark