Nine players were selected this morning in the first phase of the 2013 MLB Rule 5 draft. Here's a brief look at the players selected. Each player must stick on the 25-man roster on Opening Day 2014 or be offered back to the original club.
Astros: Patrick Schuster, LHP, Diamondbacks:
White Sox: Adrian Nieto, C, Nieto was a fifth round pick in 2008 from high school in Plantation, Florida. The 24 year old catcher was considered a disappointment for most of his career, but he performed well in '13 with a .285/.373/.449 line in 110 games for High-A Potomac. He threw out 33% of runners and has reasonable receiving skills. He has no experience above A-ball but catchers who can field their position and have a chance to hit are in short supply.
Phillies: Kevin Munson, RHP, Diamondbacks: Munson was drafted by Arizona in the fourth round in 2010 from James Madison University. He was expected to reach the majors fairly quickly on the strength of his low-90s fastball and hard slider, but command troubles have held him back. He did make progress in '13, posting a 4.12 ERA with a 66/22 K/BB in 55 innings combined between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, collecting 14 saves. He profiles as a middle reliever. He is 24 years old.
Rockies: Thomas Kahnle, RHP, Drafted in the fifth round in 2010 from Lynn University in Florida, Kahnle had a successful '13 season with a 2.85 ERA and a 74/45 K/BB in 60 innings for Double-A Trenton, picking up 15 saves and allowing just 38 hits. The 24 year old can hit the upper-90s with his fastball and is often overpowering, as you'd imagine from his K/IP ratio and low hit rate. On the other hand, his command is troublesome, and his secondary pitches (slider, change-up) are erratic. He could be a useful relief arm if he can reduce the walks.
Blue Jays: Brian Moran, LHP, Moran was immediately traded to the Angels for an international bonus slot. Drafted in the seventh round in 2009 from the University of North Carolina, Moran was widely-rumored to be a Rule 5 choice thanks to his impressive season for Triple-A Tacoma in the Pacific Coast League: 3.45 ERA, 85/20 K/BB in 63 innings, holding lefties to a .235 average. Age 25, he doesn't throw hard but his deception and movement on his pitches are tough for left-handed hitters to read. Like Schuster, he could fit in the back end of the bullpen as an anti-lefty specialist. Brian's brother Colin was also a star at North Carolina and was drafted in the first round by the Marlins in '13.
Mets: Seth Rosin, RHP, Phillies. The Mets sold his rights to the Dodgers immediately after the draft. Rosin was originally selected by the San Francisco Giants in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, from the University of Minnesota. He was traded to the Phillies in the 2012 Hunter Pence trade. Age 25, Rosin posted a 4.33 ERA with a 96/35 K/BB in 127 innings for Double-A Reading this year, allowing 120 hits. He has a low-90s fastball, a curveball, and a change-up. He did not dominate as a starting pitcher but he usually throws harder in shorter stretches and had some success when used as a reliever in the Giants system, which will probably be his long-term role in the majors.
Brewers: Wei-Chung Wang, LHP, A surprise pick, Wang was originally signed by the Pirates out of Taiwan in 2011. At age 21 he would normally not be eligible for the Rule 5 draft, but his first contract with the Pirates was voided due to an elbow injury which required Tommy John surgery. A player whose first contract is voided becomes eligible for Rule 5. Wang looks to have made a successful recovery and pitched well this year in the Gulf Coast League, with a 3.23 ERA and a 42/4 K/BB in 47 innings. He throws strikes with a low-90s fastball and a good curve. It seems like a long shot that he would stick, but give the Brewers credit for deep knowledge of the draft rules.
Diamondbacks: Marcos Mateo, RHP, A 29 year old veteran from the Dominican Republic, Mateo was originally signed by the Reds back in 2005. He has 45 major league innings under his belt, pitching for the Cubs in '11 and '12, with a 5.04 ERA and a 51/19 K/BB ratio. He pitched 31 innings in the minors this year, split between three levels, with a 1.74 ERA and a 30/15 K/BB. Mateo got back on the radar by pitching well in winter ball, where he has nine saves and a 0.93 ERA for Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican. His mid-90s fastball and slider give him middle relief potential.
Orioles: Michael Almanzar, 3B-1B, : Age 23, Almanzar was signed by the Red Sox out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. It took him four years to get his bat on track, but he performed well in both 2012 (.300/.353/.458 in High-A) and 2013 (.268/.328/.432 with 16 homers and 13 steals in Double-A). Almanzar's tools have never been doubted, but questionable plate discipline and erratic defense held him back. He's made progress and would probably have been protected by some teams, but he had no slot for big league playing time in the Boston system. He's not ready for the majors yet so it remains to be seen how the Orioles will handle this.