Tampa Bay Rays Rule 5 Draft History: The Selections

The 2014 Rule 5 Draft is today at noon, and the Tampa Bay Rays will not be making any selections thanks to their full 40-man roster. Nevertheless, the Rays may have players taken from them and it will be an entire year before we get as good of an excuse to talk about the following obscure topic: Rays Rule 5 Draft history. Right now we’ll talk about the players the Rays have taken and acquired in the Rule 5 Draft, and we also discussed the players they have lost here.

1998: Drafted David Lamb

In their inaugural season, the D-Rays selected infielder David Lamb from the Baltimore Orioles and managed to keep him on their roster for all of 1999. He seemed like an intriguing pick because he was coming off a solid season between Double-A and Triple-A and combined strong plate discipline with the versatility to play shortstop and several other positions. However, Lamb hit to just a .226/.284/.306 line in 134 plate appearances for Tampa Bay and was claimed off waivers by the New York Mets in February of 2001. He made just 16 more big league PA’s before his career was through.

1999: Drafted Chad Ogea and Chris Reitsma, Traded for Damian Rolls

Ogea was an extremely bizarre Rule 5 case. From 1995 to 1997, Ogea was a solid pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, going 26-18 with a 4.37 ERA (109 ERA+) and winning two games in the 1997 World Series. However, after he slumped in 1998 and 1999, he was forced to take a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers, making him Rule 5 eligible. The D-Rays deemed him a worthwhile selection, but injuries prevented him from ever pitching another big league game.

Reitsma, a former first round pick and top prospect coming off a rough season at High-A, had more left in the tank. Reitsma pitched very well as a starter in 2002 and as a reliever from 2003 to 2005, even racking up 29 saves. However, that all came after Tampa Bay had returned him to the Boston Red Sox at the end of spring training.

Rolls wound up being the only one of the three to actually play for the D-Rays. He was another ex-first round pick and had delivered a strong season in his second go-around at High-A in 1999. Rolls did last five years in Tampa Bay from 2000 to 2004, but he hit to just a .248/.291/.337 line and never saw additional big league time afterwards.

2001: Drafted Kevin McGlinchy, Traded for Steven Kent, Claimed Jorge Sosa

McGlinchy was a very interesting pick by Chuck LaMar and the D-Rays. He had been dominant in a relief role in 1999, putting up a 2.82 ERA in 64 appearances, before shoulder issues had sidelined him for most of 2000 and 2001. However, the injuries turned out to be enough to prevent McGlinchy from playing in the big leagues again.

Kent had shown a good ERA (2.20) and strikeouts (10.1 per 9 innings) in a High-A relief role in 2001, and he managed to stick on the D-Rays’ roster. Unfortunately, he managed just a 5.65 ERA and a 41-38 strikeout to walk ratio before the Rays waived him following the year. He never returned to the majors.

Finally, Jorge Sosa wound up being one of the Rays’ more successful Rule 5 picks. Sosa was converted from an outfielder to a pitcher by the Seattle Mariners in 2001 and had pitched just 2 games at full-season ball, but the Rays saw enough to select him nonetheless. It is pretty incredible that Sosa effectively went straight from Short Season-A to 99.1 innings for the D-Rays.

Sosa’s ERA in 2002 was poor (5.53), but he improved to a 4.62 ERA (95 ERA+) in 128.2 innings in 2003 and still had enough value after 2004 to be traded for Nick Green. Sosa’s 13-3 record and 2.55 ERA between starting and relieving for the Atlanta Braves in 2005 wound up being a fluke, but he lasted five more seasons in the big leagues after that as a swingman and pitched in 2014 in Japan at age 36.

2002: Drafted Hector Luna

After the second time he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft, Hector Luna began an MLB career that would span parts of seven seasons. Unfortunately, this was the first time he was picked and the Devil Rays returned him to the Indians at the end of spring training.

Luna was worth a shot as a versatile player who had shown good plate discipline and blazing speed at High-A the previous season. The D-Rays had the right idea, but they were just one year too early. Luna last saw big league time in 2012 for the Philadelphia Phillies and has played well the last two seasons in Japan.

2003: Claimed Jose Bautista

We can’t really blame the Devil Rays for not keeping Jose Bautista. He would up being a part of an astounding five major league teams in 2005: the Baltimore Orioles, the D-Rays, the Kansas City Royals, the New York Mets (for less than a day), and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Nobody had any idea that he would get this good. Nevertheless, it is still frustrating to know that a player that wound up being one of the best hitters in baseball played just 13 games for your team before you let him go for nothing.

2004: Drafted Alec Zumwalt

Another converted outfielder, Zumwalt was dominant between High-A and Double-A in his second year of pitching of 2004, albeit with poor control at the latter level. The D-Rays gave him a chance, but they returned him to the Braves in spring training. The Rays’ bullpen was actually quite good in 2004, so we can’t really blame them. Zumwalt never got into a big league game.

2006: Drafted Ryan Goleski

It does not look great in hindsight that the D-Rays selected another outfielder in the Rule 5 Draft while allowing Josh Hamilton to be selected. That being said, Goleski looked like a worthy choice after he hit to a .306/.391/.557 line with 27 homers between Double-A and Triple-A in 2006 while Hamilton played in only 15 games, all at Short Season-A.

If you had to guess back then, Hamilton still would have had more upside, but Goleski looked like the much better bet to be an impact big leaguer. The issue: the Rays immediately traded Goleski to the Oakland Athletics for $100,000, so all they got for not protecting Hamilton was cash.

2007: Drafted Tim Lahey

Lahey was coming off a middling season in 2006 between High-A and Double-A in the Minnesota Twins system, managing a 3.65 ERA but just a 59-35 strikeout to walk ratio in 81.1 innings pitched. However, he had touched the mid-90’s with his sinker and also threw a slider and a changeup, and that was enough to pique the Chicago Cubs’ interest. The Rays dealt Lahey to Chicago for cash considerations, but Lahey never wound up making a big league appearance.

2008: Drafted Derek Rodriguez

Rodriguez seemed like a relatively good bet to make the Rays’ bullpen thanks to his 94 MPH heat and the strong season he had delivered between Double-A and Triple-A in 2008. We can say in retrospect, though, that the Rays knew exactly what they were doing that year. Rodriguez never saw big league time.

2009: Drafted Armando Zerpa

Zerpa was also a reliever coming off a strong season, but his came between High-A and Double-A and he was quickly traded to the Dodgers. Zerpa never played a big league game.

2010: Drafted and reacquired Cesar Cabral

The Rays liked Cesar Cabral enough that they drafted him, waived him, and then reclaimed him off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. Maybe it was all an elaborate plot to get him to the New York Yankees on April 18, 2014, when they tagged him for 3 runs as they rallied from a 5-3 deficit after the top of the 7th inning to win. In any event, Cabral was coming off excellent peripherals in the Red Sox’ system in 2010 and was worth a chance even though it did not work out.

Most of the picks in Rays Rule 5 Draft history did not amount to anything, but Jose Bautista is a notable exception and several others were interesting selections at the time. Come back to RCG for all the coverage you could possibly need on this year’s Rule 5 Draft from a Rays perspective.

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