The 2011 Baseball Winter Meetings are underway in Dallas and while the greatest amount of buzz has surrounded some major free agents like Albert Pujols and Jimmy Rollins, there’s a minor portion of the annual event that has drawn some interest as well. The Rule 5 draft took place on Thursday and resulted in relocation for a group of selected prospects.
Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft when they are not on their major league organization’s 40 man roster and 1) were signed to a contract at age 19 or older and have been in that organization for 4 yrs, OR 2) were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in that organization for 5 years.
Rumors out of the meetings on Wednesday night had Phillies minor league outfielder Jiwan James (pictured) on multiple teams’ lists of talented young players who fit that bill.
James, a 22-year-old Florida native, is a converted pitcher who was ranked as the Phillies’ tenth best prospect in a survey of a dozen minor league experts conducted by The Reading Eagle this year. He was originally drafted by Philadelphia in the 22nd round of the 2007 amateur draft.
This past season, with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, James sported a .268 batting average with 4 homeruns, 38 RBI, 76 runs and 31 stolen bases in 130 games. James hits quite a bit better from his natural side, the left side, than he does on the other side of the plate (.279/.340/.382 hitting lefty, .240/.293/.315 hitting righty).
However, it was not the man that Phillies fans call “The Real King James” who was on the move. Instead, it was right-handed pitcher Lendy Castillo, a 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic, who pitched with Class A Lakewood in 2011. With the BlueClaws, Castillo made 21 appearances, 19 as a reliever, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.54 ERA, a .220 batting average against and 46 strike outs in 46 innings pitched.
In his Class A debut in June, Castillo’s fastball velocity ranged from 91-92 MPH, but by mid-August, after working closely with Lakewood pitching coach Steve Schrenk, Castillo’s fastball steadily reached 94-95 MPH.
The 6’1” 170-pounder certainly has some solid upside, but he’s not the sort of fast track prospect who will be ready for the big leagues within the next year. Castillo was signed by the Phillies in December 2006 at age 17.
In the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft, third baseman Travis “Moose” Mattair was taken by Cincinnati. Mattair is a former 2nd round draft pick by the Phillies in 2007 that regular readers of PhoulBallz.com and PhilliesNation.com will be familiar with due to his regular player diary series titled Moose Tracks. The Washington state native, who will turn 23-years-old later this month, split time in 2011 between Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater, after taking 2010 off in order to dabble in college basketball.
In addition, the Pirates selected Venezuelan catcher Francisco Diaz, who played for the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters in 2011 and lefty pitcher Andy Loomis was taken by the Orioles, in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. Loomis posted a 1.14 ERA in 28 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater.
Individuals selected in the big league portion of the Rule 5 draft must be on the 25-man Major League roster of the team that selects them throughout the entire next season, or be offered back to the team they came from.
The Phillies were inactive and made no selections in all portions of this year’s Rule 5 draft.