Until this morning, the identity of the first player taken in the Rule 5 Draft was a huge mystery … and the “big reveal” came when the Washington Nationals made Cincinnati Reds RHP Terrell Young their first pick.
A very interesting choice, the 24-year-old is the epitome of “great pure arm, terrific stuff, just starting to put it together”. The Grenada, Mississippi, native was drafted by the Reds out of high school in the 10th round of 2004.
In a Cincinnati Reds organization preview I wrote back in March 2007, Young was one of four players I singled out as “Under the Radar” prospects, with this to say about him:
“The club has taken things slowly with him and consider him very much a work-in-progress but love his upside. He finished ’06 as a closer at Billings, limiting opponents to a .145 average in 23 1/3 innings as he posted a 2.70 ERA and struck out 32, though his command was an issue with 20 walks. He should start the year in the Dayton bullpen.
“He may have the best arm of the bunch at Dayton,” (farm director Terry) Reynolds said. “He’s got a real power arm and he can develop a second pitch (either a curve or a slider to be determined) he could really be a guy to watch. He was so overpowering in the closer role that it didn’t matter that he didn’t have a second pitch.”
So other than Young, what were the biggest surprises of the day? Probably who did NOT go … the most noticeable in their absences were probably Cleveland 1B Jordan Brown, a two-time league MVP in the last three seasons, and Colorado 2B Corey Wimberly, who has hit over .300 with 181 steals in 354 games in his pro career so far.
Other surprising omissions included Cleveland LHP Chuck Lofgren who, despite a rough 2008, is a big strong southpaw who was one of the Indians’ top prospects as recently as a year ago, and Yankees RHP Kevin Whelan who remains in pinstripes despite the club losing four other players in the big league phase of the draft.
As expected, Cubs LHP Donnie Veal went early and to an organization in which he could definitely thrive, taken with the fourth pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates. And RHP Luis Perdomo, also mentioned in the previous entry, was taken two picks later by the San Francisco Giants.
Another sleeper I mentioned, Detroit C James Skelton, was one of just five position players taken in the 21-player field, picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 11th pick.