PITTSBURGH—The Pirates had success selecting pitchers in the Rule 5 Draft in general manager Neal Huntington’s first two winter meetings as they are happy with the progress of righthanders Evan Meek and Donnie Veal. This time, they tried something different and selected a hitter.
Outfielder John Raynor was chosen with the second pick from the Marlins’ organization and will be given a chance to win a bench job in spring training.
Raynor, who turns 26 on Jan. 4, hit .257/.327/.360 in 447 at bats with Triple-A New Orleans last season with six home runs and 19 stolen bases in 27 attempts. The right-handed hitter played primarily left field for the Zephyrs but also saw some action at the other two outfield spots.
“He’s a guy who brings an interesting tools package,” Huntington said. “He’s got a combination of average, the ability to draw walks, he drives the ball from gap to gap and hits the occasional home run. It’s not a typical center field bat, more of a corner bat. With (PNC Park), the ideal arrangement is two center fielders, one in center and one in left. Depending on how other guys come on, this is a depth option for us.”
Raynor must stay on the major league roster throughout the 2010 season or be offered back to the Marlins for half the $50,000 draft price if he clears waivers. Teams can also work out trades to get around having to keep a player on the major league roster all season.
Raynor was the Marlins’ ninth-round draft pick in 2006 from North Carolina-Wilmington. He was the South Atlantic League MVP in 2007 at low Class A Greensboro when he hit .333/.429/.519 with 13 homers and 54 steals in 62 attempts in 445 at bats.
”Raynor’s a guy who is going to have to come in and make the club,” Huntington said. “He can run, play defense, throw and shows there is some bat potential. He had a little bit of a struggle in Triple-A but he can be a major-league fourth outfielder right now. He can go up and hit left-handed pitching. We like his bat enough to think he’s a viable option for our ballclub.”
• Shortstop Rodolfo Cabrera was selected from the Orioles in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Cardona, 23, hit a combined .218/.272/.324 with one home run and three stolen bases in 212 at bats with low Class A Delmarva, high Class A Frederick and Double-A Bowie last season.
• Righthander Jeff Sues, the Pirates’ minor-league pitcher of the year in 2008, was outrighted off the 40-man roster in advance of the selection of Raynor. Sues, 26, was a combined 2-6, 4.67 with two saves in 90 2/3 innings with Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis in 2009.