Rule 5 picks rarely work out. Many teams pass on acquiring players with five years of minor-league service because if they haven’t made it to the Show already, they may not have what it takes anyway.
Besides the endless tales of heralded prospects that fizzled out before reaching their potential, there is a constellation of players that carved out a big-league legacy after switching scenes through the Rule 5 process.
Josh Hamilton shot out of the Tampa Bay Rays system like a comet in 2006. The slugger combined an outstanding skill set with an endearing tale of resurrection that lifted Hamilton to baseball stardom.
Johan Santana was given a second life with the Houston Astros after grabbing him from the Miami Marlins in 1999. Santana’s final destination was with the Minnesota Twins where he established himself as a dominant ace.
Chicago White Sox fans remember Podsednik as the fleet-footed leadoff hitter that set fire to the base paths in 2005 on his way to a World Series championship.
Covey has a better shot than most to make the 25-man roster out of camp considering the White Sox aren’t interested in forfeiting $25,000 if the right-hander is demoted. Yet, the hurler needs to make rapid improvements if he wants to make it to the big leagues.
According to veteran scout and FanRag.com columnist Bernie Pleskoff, Covey is a long-shot to break camp with the major-league team.
Covey’s greatest strength is his depth of repertoire, flashing four good but not great pitches. The right-hander features a two-seam and four-seam fastball that hovers between 88-93 miles per hour. Covey can also cut and sink his fastballs, offering an array of possibilities if he commands the strike zone. An average change-up and curveball round out Covey’s arsenal and none of his pitches are identified as swing-and-miss.
Rather, Covey relies on pounding the strike zone and pitching to contact. Pleskoff notes that Covey’s pitch count becomes problematic in later innings as he lacks an out pitch. High pitch counts are the scourge of starting pitchers and although Covey has the potential to be efficient, the absence of swing-and-miss stuff is cause for concern. Even if he moves to the bullpen – which seems to be inevitable if he makes the 25-man roster – he profiles best in long-relief.
Pleskoff goes on to highlight Covey’s spiking walk rate and history of injury as more cause for concern. The right-hander didn’t sign with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010 after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and Covey was sidelined for most of the 2016 season after an oblique injury.
The Oakland Athletics sent Covey to the Arizona Fall League after the season to get back into the swing of things while ostensibly trotting him out as Rule 5 fodder.
The White Sox bit on Covey’s line and Rick Hahn is certainly hoping the right-hander’s pitches dance in the Arizona sun. Still, Covey’s success is unlikely. But what the heck; why not give the kid a shot?