Blue Jays: Top 10 Rule 5 Selections in Team History

TORONTO - 1987: George Bell of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during an MLB game at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, Canada during the 1987 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
TORONTO - 1987: George Bell of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during an MLB game at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, Canada during the 1987 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO – 1987: Willie Upshaw of the Toronto Blue Jays bats during an MLB game versus the Chicago White Sox during the 1987 season at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
CHICAGO – 1987: Willie Upshaw of the Toronto Blue Jays bats during an MLB game versus the Chicago White Sox during the 1987 season at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Valuable contributors to the infield

#4. Manuel “Manny” Lee – 1984

Originally signed as a 16-year old by the New York Mets, Manny Lee was traded midway through the 1984 season to the Houston Astros and then selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rule 5 Draft later that year.  The Blue Jays got plenty of use out of Lee as he played on four different post-season teams for the Blue Jays and was the starting shortstop for the 1992 World Series Championship club.

When Lee first joined the team he was used primarily as a back-up infielder that could play both shortstop and second base.  He remained in that spot for his first three years until 1988 came along, and then he became the everyday second basemen, also filling in for Tony Fernandez at shortstop for his off days, and while Fernandez was hurt down the stretch. That season in over 400 plate appearances, Lee finished with a .291 batting average and .333 on base percentage.

In 1989, Lee moved back to being the utility-man for a season before becoming an everyday player again from 1990-1992.  In the 1992 ALCS, Lee batted .278 going 5-18 with a double and triple. Lee wound up playing eight years in Toronto and 753 games.  While he was known more for his defense, he did bat .254 with 100 extra base hits during his time with the Blue Jays.

After the 1992 World Series, Lee would depart in free agency.  Picking up your starting shortstop on your World Series team through the Rule 5 Draft has to be known as a huge success.

#3. Willie Upshaw – 1977

Coming off their first baseball season, the Blue Jays had a lot of holes to fill and they were able to get active in the Rule 5 Draft and claimed Willie Upshaw from the New York Yankees.  Upshaw was a fifth round pick a few seasons before and was coming off a season split between A and AA baseball where he hit .283.

The Blue Jays kept Upshaw on their active roster for the season to make sure they could retain his rights.  Over the next few years they kept him on the 40-man roster and he developed in AAA.  It wasn’t until 1982 when things started to really take off for Upshaw.  From 1982 until 1987, Upshaw would be the starting Blue Jays first basemen and appeared in at least 148 games in every season, playing 160 games in two of those seasons.

During his time in Toronto he twice received votes for the AL-MVP, the first being in 1983 when he batted .306 with 27 home runs and 104 RBI.  Upshaw finished his Blue Jays career appearing in 1,115 games, hitting 112 home runs and batting .265.  Upshaw is currently 18th all-time in franchise home runs. After the 1987 season the Blue Jays had youngster Fred McGriff progressing at first base so the team sold Upshaw to the Cleveland Indians.  He would play one year in Cleveland before retiring.