Astros lose high-velo Rivera in Rule 5 Draft

December 10th, 2020

HOUSTON -- Considering that he throws 100 mph, right-hander Jose Alberto Rivera being selected by the Angels in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft came as no surprise to the Astros and general manager James Click.

The Astros didn’t take any players in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft for the third year in a row, but they lost the hard-throwing Rivera and two players in the Minor League phase -- outfielder Drew Ferguson went to the Mets and catcher Chuckie Robinson went to the Reds.

Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 26-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000, so there’s a chance the Astros could get Rivera back next year. He struck out 95 in 75 2/3 innings at Class A Quad Cities in 2019.

“We spent a lot of time talking to some staff personnel here about that, and ultimately felt like we had to roll the dice,” Click said of not adding Rivera to the 40-man roster last month. “We thought there was a good chance that he would get taken because of the stuff and velocity, but we have to balance that against the fact that, you know, we have good chance to get him back, based on the Rule 5 rules.”

The Astros entered the Rule 5 Draft with only two open spots on the 40-man and more holes than that to fill this winter. They could create additional spots on the 40-man via trades or moving injured players to the 60-day injured list next year.

“If we've added Rivera, we'd obviously be down to one [roster spot], and we've got quite a few holes on the roster that need to be filled,” Click said. “So we anticipate additional roster changes over the course of the season and had to balance the need for those roster spots over the next couple months with the ability to protect a player like that.”

The Astros made two selections in the Minor League phase, taking right-handed pitcher Joe Record in the first round and right-handed pitcher Seth Martinez in the second round.

Record, 25, was selected from the Twins organization, where he last pitched in 2019, appearing in a total of 35 games between two Class A affiliates. He combined for a 4-4 record and a 5.07 ERA with eight saves and 68 strikeouts in his 55 innings pitched.

Martinez, 26, was selected from the A’s organization. He last pitched in 2019, splitting his season between the Class A and Double-A levels, combining for a 7-4 record and a 2.51 ERA in 42 relief appearances. He had 74 strikeouts in his 71 2/3 innings pitched, while allowing a .198 opponent batting average and posting a 0.95 WHIP.