The results of Thursday's Rule 5 draft, and how they effect the Red Sox
The Red Sox lost two players -- neither of them unexpected -- in the first round of the 2012 Rule 5 draft. Relievers Josh Fields and Ryan Pressly were taken by the Astros and Twins, respectively. Boston added a player with the seventh pick in Jeff Kobernus, but he's already been dealt to the Tigers.
First, a reminder about Rule 5 rules. The players in question have to remain on the 25-man roster all year long, though, stints on the disabled list allow them to be removed, as do rehab assignments. In the past, teams have used those somewhat liberally to stick Rule 5 players in the minors for a month at a time, but supposedly, Major League Baseball plans to crack down on that sort of thing.
Fields is a likely candidate to stick, given his dominating efforts at Double- and Triple-A, as well as what is essentially a guarantee that the Astros will not be competitive this year. There is little reason for them to get rid of Fields, even if he has a rough go of things by jumping to the bigs, as they're in a position to stash talent that is under team control and can help them later on. Fields struck out hitters at an absurd rate this year, and finally seemed to deal with his control issues, resulting in career-high figures in just about every positive category.
The former first-round pick is much more likely to be gone from the Red Sox forever than the second player they lost, Pressly. The 23-year-old Pressly struggled as a starting pitcher for High-A Salem, but showed high velocity and better results as a reliever for Double-A. It's important to note, though, that even though his ERA was shiny in 27 innings for the Sea Dogs, his peripherals were not exactly enticing. He's a good bet to struggle in the majors, and the Twins might not have the patience to keep him all year, meaning they would have to return him to the Red Sox.
Boston selected Jeff Kobernus, a second baseman from the Washington Nationals system, with their one and only pick. (The Red Sox passed in the second round.) Kobernus is a former prospect, who ranked seventh, 21st, and 20th in the Nationals system in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and was not ranked in 2012. According to Baseball America, Kobernus has had issues staying healthy, and while he profiled as having fringe-average power and has been lauded for his athletic ability, things just haven't come together for him.
The 2009 second-round pick topped out at a 700 OPS in the minors, which shouldn't excite you. But don't worry: Kobernus has been traded. Boston has room on their 40-man right now, but only because the contracts of Mike Napoli and Shane VIctorino are not yet official. Kobernus will be dealt for a non-40-man player or cash, most likely, as Boston tends to deal their Rule 5 picks. Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reminds us that Boston hasn't kept a Rule 5 pick since 2008, and they aren't likely to start with Kobernus.
[Update 11:49 am -- Boston has received a player back for Kobernus, and it's Justin Henry. Britton has the details on him, but here's the quick version: not on the 40-man roster, utility type, left-handed bat who has hit well in the high minors. He's 27, though, so he's not a prospect, but he is a decent piece to add for depth and versatility.]
That's just the major-league portion of the Rule 5, though. There's also the minor-league Rule 5. The Red Sox took Jack McGeary, also of the Nationals, in that portion of the draft. McGeary is a 23-year-old Boston native, who was selected back in 2007 out of Roxbury Latin High School. He has had Tommy John surgery, and instead of just spending his time recovering, he decided to use the down time productively: McGeary went out and got a degree from Stanford, the university he planned on attending before the Nationals threw $1.8 million at him. At least we know he could afford the Stanford education.
McGeary has serious issues with walks, and doesn't strike out many hitters. But, since he's part of the minor-league portion of the Rule 5, he doesn't have to pitch in the majors, and the Red Sox don't have to return him. It's unlikely he'll ever get back to being the kind of pitcher he was when he was considered a top-five Nationals prospect, but then again, no one thought much of bringing someone like Michael Olmsted aboard back when that happened. You bring these guys aboard because you never know, even if you're only talking about a non-zero chance.
The Red Sox also selected Double-A reliever Jon Bachanov from the White Sox in the minor-league portion of the draft. Bachanov was selected by the Angels at #57 in the 2007 draft, as a late sandwich-round selection. He walked nearly as many batters as he struck out in 2012, though, and has all of eight innings at Double-A to his credit despite four seasons in the minors. He'll be 24 in 2013, and before this past season, didn't have serious issues with walks. Moving up the minor-league ladder will challenge a guy, though, so Bachanov has work to do to get back to being the kind of arm he was when Baseball America ranked him 24th and 19th in the Angels' system.