Ruben Amaro warned that his team would be aggressive in this year's Rule 5 draft, an occurrence on the final day of MLB's Winter Meetings that allows teams to draft players who have been left off the 40-man rosters of any other team. The Phillies wound up taking two players: IF/OF Odubel Herrera from the Rangers and LHP Andy Oliver from the Pirates.
A 22-year-old Venezuela native, Herrera has shown prowess at the plate, being called an "advanced opposite field hitter" with the potential for plus speed. Herrera's swing has been characterized as level enough to allow for plenty of line drives, but at under six feet tall, his lack of stature takes away from his power.
With more consistent mechanics in 2014, he won the Texas League batting title hitting .321/.373/.402 and is said to have made huge improvements since last season, when he hit .264/.312/.345 for High A Myrtle Beach and Double A Frisco in the Rangers farm system. Currently in the Venezuelan Winter League, Herrera is hitting .374/.421/.565 with four home runs in 42 games.
The Phillies already have some big plans for the IF/OF, with Jayson Stark of ESPN reporting that they see him as a legitimate major league outfielder and may have a shot at being the everyday center fielder.
Oliver, a 27-year-old left-handed pitcher, was pulled off the Indianapolis Indians roster of the Triple A International League. He was originally drafted by the Tigers and appeared in seven games at the major league level, most recently in 2011. He threw 64.0 innings in 2014 with Indianapolis, accumulating a 2.53 ERA with 85 strikeouts and 47 walks.
This was markedly improved over his 2013 season, when he was a starter who appeared in 29 games (as opposed to his 45 relief appearances in 2014) and had a BB/9 rate of 8.1 and a 4.05 ERA.
The Phillies also lost three players to other teams: Lehigh Valley pitcher Kyle Simon, acquired from the Orioles along with catcher Gabriel Lino in the Jim Thome trade, was selected by the Colorado Rockies; outfielder Peter Lavin, a .287 hitter with Reading and Clearwater, was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers; and pitcher Delvi Francisco, who amassed a 7.44 ERA in 30 games between Lakewood and Williamsport, was taken by the Cleveland Indians.