LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Hoping to find a hidden gem, the Red Sox snagged right-handed reliever Nick Debarr from the Devil Rays with pick No. 11 in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.
"[He has an] above-average fastball, quality slider, he has a split that's still a developing pitch," said Allard Baird, who serves as special assistant to general manager Theo Epstein. "He had Tommy John [reconstruction elbow surgery] in 2005. This past season, his numbers speak for himself in basically a hitters' league, the California League. We feel he's got some upside. He needs to gain some consistency with his delivery."
It would be a big jump for Debarr to break camp with the Red Sox in April, as he spent last season pitching for Class A Visalia. He posted a 4-3 record with a 2.74 ERA and saved nine games.
"If you look at his daily log, you'll notice that because of the Tommy John in 2005, they didn't use him on consecutive days, because they were bringing him back [from surgery], obviously," said Baird. "We got an early look at him, we got a very late look at him and we see some upside. Obviously, it's a Rule 5 guy that is coming from A-ball.
"There's some projection involved there. I think the key, especially being in Boston, is that we think he's a really tough makeup kid -- very aggressive. That's got to play into him even having a chance to make the club."
If Debarr does not make the Red Sox out of Spring Training, they must offer him back to the Devil Rays for $25,000, which is half the acquisition price.
The Devil Rays selected Debarr in the 14th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. His career record in the Minor Leagues is 20-17 over 108 games, 39 of which have been starts. But he is now exclusively a reliever.
With the addition of Debarr, the Red Sox now have 35 players on their 40-man roster. That number will jump to 37 next week, assuming free-agent acquisitions J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo pass their physicals.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.