Forty-five players were taken in this year’s Rule 5 draft, including nine in the major league phase, 34 in the Triple-A phase, and two in the Double-A phase. Among the highlights were top pick Patrick Schuster (who threw four consecutive no-hitters in high school), Brian Moran (the older brother of Marlins prospect Colin) and Russell Wilson, the Pro Bowl quarterback with the Seahawks who played two seasons in Colorado’s system before making the wise decision to stick with football full time.
We scoured our archives to find as much video of this year’s class as possible, and we found seven players: Catcher Adrian Nieto (from Nationals to White Sox), RHP Tommy Kahnle (Yankees to Rockies), RHP Seth Rosin (Phillies to Mets, then sold to the Dodgers), RHP Mikey O’Brien (Yankees to Reds), OF Ravel Santana (Yankees to Astros), RHP Kelvin Castro (Yankees to Marlins) and third baseman Michael Almanzar (Red Sox to Orioles).
Tommy Kahnle – RHP (Yankees to Rockies)
Kahnle, who closed at Double-A Trenton this year, couples a high-90s fastball with a decent changeup and a developing slider. He’s an imposing presence at a thick 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, and he fanned 74 in 60 innings this year, against just 38 hits. His command is an issue, however, as proved by his 45 walks. If he can iron out his command this spring, he’ll have a decent chance to stick in Colorado.
Adrian Nieto – C (Nationals to White Sox)
A Cuban emigre, Nieto has spent his career battling injuries and was suspended 50 games before the 2011 season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He’s made adjustments to his swing—including reducing a large leg kick—and has seen benefits. He hit .285/.373/.449 this year with high Class A Potomac, albeit as a 23-year-old, and then added a .271/.345/.333 mark with Mesa in the Arizona Fall League. At best, he could be an offensive backup catcher in the major leagues. The White Sox will see if he can do it this year.
Seth Rosin — RHP (Phillies to Mets, then traded to Dodgers)
One of the pieces landed by the Phillies in the Hunter Pence deal, Rosin spent the year with the Reading Fightin Phils, where he was 9-6 with a 4.33 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 126 2/3 innings. He also was an Eastern League All-Star. Rosin relies on a sinking heater that sits between 88-91 mph as well as slurvy slider and a changeup. Both offspeed pitches sit in the high 70s, and the slider will peek into the low 80s. He gets in trouble when he misses up in the zone, and he allowed 13 longballs last year. He’s a longshot to stick in Los Angeles.
Mikey O’Brien — RHP (Yankees to Reds)
A stocky righthander at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, O’Brien is a Type 1 diabetic who wears an insulin pump when he pitches. On the hill, he relies on command of a fastball, hook and slider to get his outs. His heater sits comfortably between 87-92 mph, though it has touched as high as 96 in the past. His curveball showcases soft, three-quarter break, and his slider will stay flat. Between high Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this year, O’Brien went 8-10 with 4.17 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 133 2/3 innings.
Ravel Santana — OF (Yankees to Astros)
Once one of the more heralded prospects in the organization, injuries have seriously derailed Santana’s chances. The first came on a slide into home plate in a Gulf Coast League game when Santana broke his ankle in two places and suffered serious ligament damage. After surgery, he looked a shell of himself in 2012 when he put up a .216/.304/.285 line with three homers and 19 RBIs in 60 games. A broken wrist cost him all of 2013, meaning he’ll have played just 101 games since over the past three seasons. The Yankees gave him $150,000 in 2008, and now the Astros will pay a fraction of that to bring him over to their system.
Michael Almanzar — 3B (Red Sox to Orioles)
Almanzar used a big uppercut swing to establish a new career high in homers with 16 over 131 games with Double-A Portland. All told, he hit .268/.328/.432 with 29 doubles and 81 RBIs. Scouts aren’t sold on his hitting approach, which is pull-oriented and sometimes susceptible to offspeed stuff. He’s a well below-average runner who charges the ball well at third and plays acceptable defense.
Kelvin Castro — RHP (Yankees to Marlins)
Normally, a 25-year-old who took seven years to make it to low Class A wouldn’t be worth a second look, even in the Double-A portion of the Rule 5 draft at a cost of just $4,000. Castro is a little different. He’s a former infielder whom the Yankees converted to the mound in the middle of the 2012 season, and has just 40 innings under his belt. He split 2013 between short-season Staten Island and low Class A Charleston, putting up a 2-2 mark with a 3.21 ERA and 44 strikeouts against 11 walks in 33 2/3 innings. He’s a project for sure, but comes equipped with a 89-93 mph fastball and an improving slider.