The Houston Astros were first on the clock in the major league portion of the 2011 Rule 5 draft. Only teams with open spots on their 40-man rosters were eligible to participate in the draft. Twelve of the 30 teams elected to select players and no major league teams took more than one player in this year's major league portion of the draft. Players selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft must remain on their new team's 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the franchise they were selected from.
The first pick was right-handed reliever Rhiner Cruz, who went to Houston from the New York Mets' organization. Cruz split his 2011 season between High-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton. He held opposing batters to a .202 average and struck-out 69 in 71.2 innings, but he walked 45. Cruz turned 25 in November and is a native of the Dominican Republic. He has a solid fastball that sits in the low-90s and can touch 95 and a good slider, but command is still an issue for the 6'2'' right-hander. Given Houston's current roster situation, he has a strong chance of staying on the Astros' roster all season.
The Minnesota Twins were second on the clock and they selected Terry Doyle, a right-handed starter from the Chicago White Sox organization. Doyle had a big year, splitting his time between High-A and Double-A. In 173 innings pitched, he had a 3.07 ERA and walked only 33 while striking out 122. Doyle followed up on that performance with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, going 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 27.1 innings. He allowed only 12 hits and struck-out 22 while walking five. He is a high school math teacher during the off-season and was a 37th-round pick out of Boston College. He doesn't throw particularly hard, but has impeccable command.
The Seattle Mariners selected third and took left-hander Lucas Luetge, formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Mariners' front office, most of whom came from the Milwaukee organization, were very familiar with Luetge. A reliever, he struck-out 69 and walked 23 in 69 innings for Double-A Huntsville in 2011. He has a possible future as a left-handed relief specialist. Southpaws batted only .175 against him last season.
Ryan Flaherty became the first position player taken in the draft when he was selected by the Baltimore Orioles. Formerly of the Chicago Cubs’ organization, Flaherty is a power-hitting infielder, whose bat is ahead of his glove. He split his 2011 season between the Cubs’ Double-A and Triple-A teams and hit 19 homeruns in 475 at-bats. Flaherty posted a 907 OPS for Double-A Tennessee, but struggled with Triple-A Iowa, batting only .237 with a 676 OPS. The Vanderbilt alum is expected to battle Matt Antonelli for a spot on the Orioles’ roster this spring.
The Kansas City Royals had the fifth pick and they selected Cesar Cabral from the Boston Red Sox’s organization. Cabral, a left-handed reliever, struck-out 70 in 55 innings for Double-A Portland and High-A Salem in 2011. Cabral did an excellent job of inducing groundballs and allowed only three homeruns. He is currently pitching well in the Dominican Winter League and has an 0.87 ERA with 12 strike-outs and only two walks in 10.1 innings pitched. Cabral was selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft last season by Tampa Bay, but he didn’t stick with the Rays. As a two-time Rule 5 selectee, he can elect free agency if the Royals decide not to keep him on their 25-man roster.
The Chicago Cubs took right-hander Lendy Castillo from the Philadelphia Phillies’ organization. He was mostly a reliever last season for the Phillies’ High-A squad, and posted a 46:16 K:BB ratio in 46 innings. It was only Castillo’s second season pitching in the United States after he began his career pitching in the Dominican Summer League. He was originally signed in 2006 out of the Dominican.
Pittsburgh took shortstop Gustavo Nunez with the eighth pick in the draft. Nunez, who was in the Detroit Tigers’ chain, had a strong season with High-A Lakeland, but he struggled with Double-A Erie. He is a switch-hitter, but it is his glove that distinguishes him as a player.
Teams nine through 20 chose to pass on selecting players, so the next team to select was the Atlanta Braves, who took Angels’ left-hander Robert Fish with the 21st pick. Fish was also taken in the Rule 5 last season by the New York Yankees. He was eventually claimed by the Kansas City Royals before being returned to the Angels. A burly left-hander, Fish has excellent stuff, but delivery flaws have made him hittable at times. He had a strong 2011 season as a reliever, striking out 41 in 30.1 innings. Fish allowed only 21 hits.
St. Louis had the 22nd pick and they chose Erik Komatsu, an outfielder from from the Washington Nationals’ organization. Komatsu began the 2011 season with the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization, but was traded to Washington mid-season for Jerry Hairston, Jr. Komatsu played well for Double-A Huntsville, but he struggled after the trade. A high school teammate of Detroit’s Delmon Young, Komatsu had a big 2010 season in High-A, batting .323 with an 855 OPS.
The Boston Red Sox selected 23rd and took Chicago Cubs’ infielder Marwin Gonzalez. He split his 2011 season between Double-A and Triple-A in the Cubs’ chain. According to WEEI.com, the Red Sox are expected to trade Gonzalez to the Houston Astros for minor league Rule 5 pick Marco Duarte. He can play every infield position but catcher and all three outfield positions.
Brett Lorin, a right-handed pitcher from the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization, was selected in the 25th slot by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He walked only 19 in 117.1 innings for High-A Bradenton in 2011. Lorin was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners but came to the Pirates in the Jack Wilson/Ian Snell transaction. He is a rangy right-hander (6’7’’) and his fastball can touch 94 MPH.
The final selection made in the major league portion of the draft was Brad Meyers, who was taken by the New York Yankees in the 29th slot. He played at three levels in the Washington Nationals’ organization last season, but spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Syracuse. Meyers has excellent command (15 walks in 138.2 innings), but his stuff grades out as mostly average across the board. The right-hander is 6’6’’ and an alumnus of Loyola Marymount.
The minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft followed, with a Triple-A and Double-A phase. Twenty-five players were selected in the minor league portion. The most notable name came in the Triple-A portion when former first-round pick Aaron Poreda was selected out of the San Diego Padres’ organization by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 25th overall pick by the Chicago White Sox in 2007 out of the University of San Francisco, Poreda reached the big leagues in 2009, but he has struggled since then, especially with his command. The left-handed pitcher walked 63 in 69.2 innings for Triple-A Tucson last year. Poreda was traded to the Padres from the White Sox in 2009 as part of the Jake Peavy deal.