Each year, with the end of the Winter Meetings, the Rule 5 Draft takes place where teams can select players from other organizations in order to give then a chance elsewhere. The Yankees were unable to make a selection because their 40-man roster is full, but that didn't mean they can't have players taken away from them.
An all-time low nine players were taken in the major league portion of the Draft. The Colorado Rockies took Yankees right-handed reliever Tom Kahnle with the fourth overall pick. Kahnle will have to stick with the team for the entire MLB season or be offered back to the Yankees. Brian Cashman expected they would lose him in the Draft, however, he was apparently not worth protecting.
Drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB Draft, Kahnle has major strikeout potential with a career 12.0 K/9, however, he has also struggled mightily with control (5.2 BB/9). In 2013, his strikeout rate remained steady, but his walk rate hit over six per nine innings in Double-A. It was entirely possible that he could have been moved to Triple-A for 2014 and if his control improved, he would have been in line for a promotion. The Yankees likely found him to be a lost cause at the age of 24, so they left him unprotected.
John Sickels from Minor League Ball weighs in on Kahnle:
He can hit the upper-90s with his fastball and is often overpowering, as you'd imagine from his K/IP ratio and low hit rate. On the other hand, his command is troublesome, and his secondary pitches (slider, change-up) are erratic. He could be a useful relief arm if he can reduce the walks.
In the minor league phase of the Draft, where players do not have to be offered back to their original teams, Ravel Santana was selected by the Astros and Mikey O'Brien was taken by the Reds in the Triple-A portion, while Felipe Gonzalez went off to the Pirates and the Marlins drafted Kelvin Castro in the Double-A portion. All four are now full-time members of their new organizations.
Ravel Santana was one of the Yankees' more promising prospects at one time, but freak injuries derailed his career. He had a 172 wRC+ between the 2009 and 2010 seasons and became one of the organization's top players until a severe ankle injury and a broken arm cost him a lot of playing time. Now 21, and having missed the entire 2013 season, Santana still has the potential to make it, though he has only reached Short Season-A. Hopefully he can overcome his surgically repaired ankle.
Drafted in the 9th round of the 2008 MLB Draft, right-handed starter Mikey O'Brien compiled a 3.78 ERA and 3.34 FIP over the last six seasons. The 23-year-old was starting to at least show some promise in Double-A, by throwing 275.2 innings over the last two years, but he likely wasn't worth protecting; it's likely he ends up as nothing more than Triple-A depth with the chance to make it as a middle reliever.
A Yankee since 2008, Gonzalez finally pitched in rookie ball after four years in the Dominican Summer League and a lost 2012 season. As a 21-year-old right-handed starter, he threw 48.1 innings with a 2.35 ERA and 3.18 FIP with good control (2.98 BB/9).
In the system since 2007, Castro was a middle infielder with a career .616 OPS before he was converted into a right-handed reliever in 2012. In his age-25 season this year he had a 12.55 K/9 and 2.66 BB/9 over 23.2 innings in Staten Island before getting a call-up to Low-A Charleston.
Meanwhile, the Yankees decided to pass in the minor league portion of the Draft.
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