By Jeff Louderback
Josh Fields, a 2008 first round draft by Seattle who was acquired with Erik Bedard in 2011, and Ryan Pressly, an 11th round selection of Boston in 2007 who thrived after a conversion from starter to reliever, were Red Sox players chosen in this morning’s Rule 5 Draft.
The Red Sox, who drafted from the No. 7 spot, plucked second baseman Jeff Kobernus from the Washington Nationals and then traded him to Detroit for left-handed hitting corner infielder and outfielder Justin Henry, who will give Boston utility depth at Triple-A Pawtucket.
The Rule 5 Draft, an annual event that marks the end of the MLB Winter Meetings, is composed of players who have four or five years of minor league experience (depending on the age when they signed) and are not on their respective team’s 40-man roster. Teams are not required to select a player, but if they do they pay his former team $50,000 and must keep the player on the Major League active roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25,000.
Fields was the first overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft by Houston.The power right-hander struck out 78 in 58.1 innings between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket in 2012, logging a 2.62 ERA in 32 games at Portland and a 0.00 ERA in 10 games and 13.2 innings at Pawtucket.
It is surprising that the Red Sox chose to keep Pedro Beato on the 40-man roster instead of Fields, but the organization has right-handed relief depth on the roster and space is needed for free agent signings and trades.
While Fields will likely stick with the Astros, which will make their American League West debut in 2013, Pressly could be offered back to the Red Sox. The 23-year-old right-hander was stalled as a starter at advanced Single-A Salem, but he was moved to the bullpen in 2012 and responded by rebounding at Salem and then posting a 2.93 ERA in 14 games at Double-A Portland.
f they do choose a player, they pay his former team $50K and must keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25K.
As for Kobernus, a second round pick by the Nationals in 2009 out of the University of California at Berkeley, the 24-year-old right-handed hitting second baseman was traded to the Tigers since they have a need at second base and can keep him at the Major League level for the entire season.
The 27-year-old Henry, a ninth round pick of the Tigers out of Ole Miss in 2009, has a .293 average over six minor league seasons in the Tigers organization. He has minimal power – swatting just four home runs in 2,738 plate appearances – but he hits for average, steals bases and can play all three outfield positions as well as all four infield spots.
In 2012, at Triple-A Toledo, he batted .300 with 22 stolen bases while primarily playing second base, third base, center field.
Kobernus hit .282 with 42 stolen bases at Double-A Harrisburg in 2012. He has little power, collecting one home run and 19 RBI last season and nine home runs over three full minor league campaigns.
Jeremy Hazelbaker, the 25-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder who belted 19 home runs and swiped 33 bases at Double-A Portland in 2012 was not selected, so he will remain in the Red Sox organization and likely open the 2013 campaign at Triple-A Pawtucket.
A fourth round pick out of Ball State University in 2009, Hazelbaker can proficiently play all three outfield spots, hits for power and is fast on the basepaths, but he is prone is striking out (122 in 520 plate appearances last season and 457 whiffs in 1,766 plate appearances in four minor league seasons.
The Red Sox were also able to keep Miguel Celestino, the 23-year-old right-handed who has a promising future but posted a4.68 ERA in 26 starts at Salem in 2012. Celestino will likely open 2013 at Portland.