LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It was billed as a Rule 5 Draft that wouldn't measure up to previous years, but there were interesting selections made Thursday morning at the Winter Meetings, including a former high school standout, a nephew of a one-time All-Star and a Pro Bowl quarterback.
Seven of the nine players taken in the Major League Phase were pitchers, continuing the trend of the Rule 5 Draft being heavy on pitching, and all nine will now get a chance next spring to make a big league roster. Teams with room on their 40-man rosters were allowed to make selections in the Major League phase for $50,000. Players taken have to stick on the 25-man big league roster all of next season or be offered back to their original teams for $25,000.
The run on pitching started right out of the gate with the Astros taking 23-year-old left-handed reliever Patrick Schuster from the D-backs, though Houston wasn't taking him for its own purposes. Schuster, who made a name for himself in high school in 2009 by throwing four consecutive no-hitters, was sent to the Padres as the player to be named in Wednesday's Anthony Bass trade.
"I had no idea. I completely forgot about it," Schuster said in a phone interview. "My agent called me [Wednesday] night and reminded me that the Rule 5 Draft is tomorrow and keep your eye on it. Something may happen, you never know. I was on my way to the gym this morning when it happened and he gave me a ring and let me know. It was pretty exciting."
A 13th-round pick of the D-backs in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, taken when current San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes was the GM in Arizona, Schuster had a 1.83 ERA in the Class A Advanced California League in 2013, holding hitters to a .191 batting average.
"I have a little history with him," Byrnes said. "We drafted him with Arizona. He's progressed through professional ball. The last two years he's been a reliever and we had a really good report on him this summer from the Cal League. He's gotten some lefties out and actually has pitches for right-handed hitters and also keeps the ball on the ground. He was worth a shot in the Rule 5."
Schuster wasn't the only player taken in the Major League phase to be dealt afterward. The Blue Jays traded their pick, left-hander Brian Moran, who had been with the Mariners, to the Angels for $244,000 of international amateur free-agent cap space. The Mets also traded their selection, right-hander Seth Rosin, who they had taken from the Phillies, to the Dodgers for cash.
"He's been a terrific Minor League performer," Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said of Moran. "He's annihilated left-handed hitters in Triple-A is probably the best way to put it. I saw him pitch quite a bit in college in North Carolina.
"It's a good baseball family. Colin Moran, a third baseman who went in the first round [this] year with the Marlins, is his brother. B.J. Surhoff is his uncle. He's been in the Triple-A [Pacific Coast League] for the last few years, he's really torn it up, and left-handed hitters just don't see this guy very well."
Catcher Adrian Nieto, a former high school classmate of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, was the first position player taken when the White Sox nabbed him with the No. 2 pick. The former fifth-round pick of the Washington Nationals had a bit of a breakout in the Class A Advanced Carolina League in 2013, hitting .285/.373/.449 with 11 homers in 452 at-bats. He also threw out 33 percent of would-be basestealers before going on to have a successful Arizona Fall League campaign that included a trip to the Fall Stars Game.
"It's something I was looking forward to after not being protected on the 40-man [roster]," Nieto said. "It's a good place to be at. They need some catching help and I'm looking forward to hopefully being one of their big league guys.
"I've been through a lot and I've turned it around. This was my first real season where I was healthy for a full season, so I was able to show what I could do. This is icing on the cake, but it's just going to make me work harder. I want to make the team."
The biggest buzz of occurred in the Triple-A phase when the Rangers took Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson had been drafted by the Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 June Draft and spent two summers playing Minor League ball before turning his full attention to his NFL career. It may sound a bit like a gimmick -- Wilson won't suddenly change his career path now that Texas has spent $12,000 to take him -- but the Rangers hope that perhaps they can build a relationship with someone they respect and admire.
"We scouted him as an amateur, and have admired what he's accomplished with the Seahawks on the football field," Rangers pro scouting director Josh Boyd said. "We put serious consideration into making this pick because we felt it was an opportunity to add a special person, competitor and leader to our organization, even if it doesn't develop into anything more than a name on a piece of paper. If there is a chance for him to get some face time with our young players in Spring Training or anytime, we viewed that as a huge value to our development system, potentially.
"He's about preparation, consistency, domination and performing in the clutch and has shown every Sunday how he can bring a group of athletes together to achieve something great. I give a lot of credit to Jay Matthews, the scout with the Rockies who identified him and signed him originally, and we're excited to add him to our organization and hopefully develop a mutually beneficial relationship."
2013 Rule 5 Draft
Acquiring teams in bold; former organizations in parentheses
Major League Phase
HOU: Patrick Schuster, LHP, Reno (ARI) -- Sent to SD to complete trade for Anthony Bass
CWS: Adrian Nieto, C, Syracuse (WAS)
PHI: Kevin Munson, RHP, Reno (ARI)
COL: Thomas Kahnle, RHP, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY)
TOR: Brian Moran, LHP, Tacoma (SEA) -- Traded to LAA for $244,000 of international cap space
NYM: Seth Rosin, RHP, Lehigh Valley (PHI) -- Traded to LAD for cash
MIL: Wei-Chung Wang, LHP, Indianapolis (PIT)
ARI: Marcos Mateo, RHP, Iowa (CHC)
BAL: Michael Almanzar, 3B, Pawtucket (BOS)
HOU: Ravel Santana, OF, Trenton (NYY)
FLA: Justin Bour, 1B, Tennessee (CHC)
CWS: Evan Crawford, LHP, New Hampshire (TOR)
CHC: Charles Cutler, C, Altoona (PIT)
MIN: Kevin Thomas, RHP, Springfield (STL)
TOR: Roberto Espinosa, RHP, Altoona (PIT)
NYM: Jonathan Velasquez, RHP, New Britain (MIN)
MIL: Kevin Mattison, OF, Jacksonville (MIA)
SD: Jacob Lemmerman, SS, Springfield (STL)
LAA: Jose Valdivia, RHP, Jackson (SEA)
ARI: Michael Lee, RHP, Mississippi (ATL)
BAL: Julio Borbon, OF, Tennessee (CHC)
WAS: Theodis Bowe, OF, Pensacola (CIN)
CIN: Michael O'Brien, RHP, Trenton (NYY)
TEX: Russell Wilson, 2B, Tulsa (COL)
TB: Enderson Franco, RHP, Corpus Christi (HOU)
PIT: Tyler Sample, RHP, Northwest Arkansas (KC)
OAK: Tim Atherton, RHP, New Britain (MIN)
BOS: Jonathan Roof, SS, Reading (PHI)
STL: Gregory Miclat, SS, Frisco (TEX)
HOU: Carlos Vazquez, LHP, Binghamton (NYM)
MIA: Brady Shoemaker, OF, Birmingham (CWS)
CWS: Omar Narvaez, C, Montgomery (TB)
MIN: James Fuller, LHP, Binghamton (NYM)
TOR: Richard Bleier, LHP, Frisco (TEX)
MIL: Vincent Catricala, 3B, Midland (OAK)
SD: Adolfo Reina, C, Erie (DET)
ARI: Hector Hernandez, LHP, Springfield (STL)
WAS: Martires Arias, RHP, Binghamton (NYM)
PIT: A.J. Morris, RHP, Tennessee (CHC)
STL: Jesus Ustariz, 3B, Erie (DET)
MIA: Tony Thompson, 3B, Midland (OAK)
TOR: Scott Shuman, RHP, Richmond (SF)
PIT: Felipe Gonzalez, RHP, Trenton (NYY)
HOU: Blaine Sims, LHP, Lynchburg (ATL)
MIA: Kelvin Castro, RHP, Charleston (NYY)