From Roberto Clemente (1954) to Johan Santana (1999), some special players have found their way to the big leagues through MLB‘s Rule 5 draft. As usual, this year’s iteration represents the last major event of the annual winter meetings, and it is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. ET Thursday.

How does it all work? Who is eligible? Here’s everything you need to know, courtesy of’s Jonathan Mayo:

  • Players who first signed at age 18 had to be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process.
  • Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons.”
  • “Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft. If that player doesn’t stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.”

A pair of relievers, St. Louis’ Matt Bowman (3.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) and Toronto’s Joe Biagini (3.06 ERA, 1.30 WHIP), were the standouts from last year’s draft, which saw 10 of the 16 players selected log time in the big leagues for their new clubs.

Will this year’s draft deliver more impact picks? Here’s a look at a handful of prospects who could contribute in the big leagues next season as Rule 5 selections.

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