Twins Retain Rule 5 Pick

The Deal
The Twins worked out a trade with the Yankees to retain full rights to big league Rule 5 pick Jason Jones, a righthander who has registered five strikeouts and three walks to go with a 2.70 ERA in 10 innings this spring. By completing the trade, they now can option Jones to the minor leagues rather than make room all season on the active roster for a pitcher who has no real experience above Double-A and who profiles best as a middle reliever.

Minnesota sent righthander Charles Nolte to New York as compensation.

The Young Players
Jones, 26, has spent all or part of the past three seasons with Double-A Trenton, compiling a 3.68 ERA in 330 innings, while striking out 197 (5.4 per nine innings), walking 98 (2.7) and allowing 33 home runs (0.9). A fourth-round pick from Liberty in 2004, Jones relies on a vast repertoire—which includes a low-90s four-seam fastball, a split-finger, a sinker, a slider and a curveball—rather than overpowering stuff to get results.

A 24th-round pick out of San Diego State in 2007, the 23-year-old Nolte also profiles as a middle reliever, though his stuff is quite different. A Tommy John surgery alumnus (he had the procedure while in college), Nolte lives and dies with a low-90s sinker, a pitch that helped him generate 4.82 groundouts for every airout last year with low Class A Beloit. Working exclusively in relief, he went 4-3, 2.05 with 75 strikeouts, 35 walks and one home run allowed in 70 1/3 innings. But like many young sinkerballers, he struggled against opposite-side batters, allowing lefties to hit .292/.394/.375 against him in 120 at-bats.

Quick Take
The Yankees ought to be pleased with the return they got on Jones, who would have cost $25,000 (half the Rule 5 draft fee) to bring back to the system and who didn’t seem to fit in the organization’s long-term plans—not with the pitching depth building at Double-A and Triple-A. While it’s not uncommon for a college arm like Nolte to dominate Midwest League competition, especially when working out of the bullpen, the Yankees have ample time to find out if the live-armed righthander can make gains with his control and against lefthanded batters.

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