Trio of Astros prospects selected in Rule 5 Draft
By Brian McTaggart | @brianmctaggart
December 12, 2019
SAN DIEGO -- The Astros lost three Minor League players in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, which came at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings. The Orioles took right-hander Brandon Bailey with the No. 2 overall pick, the Mariners selected right-hander Yohan Ramirez with the sixth pick and the Red Sox chose shortstop Jonathan Arauz with the 10th pick.
The Astros didn't select any players despite having openings on their 40-man roster. All three players they lost have yet to reach the big leagues, but they must stick on the Major League roster of their new teams next season or be offered back to the Astros.
"We woke up this morning thinking we'd lose one or two," Astros special assistant to the general manager Kevin Goldstein said. "But we knew that we had some guys off the roster who had a little bit of selection risk, and we saw what happened. We thought we'd lose one or two, and we lost three. I don't use the word 'loss.' I think we have three guys taken and we don't count them as a loss until they stick on the roster all year for the big league teams that took them."
Bailey, 25, spent the entire 2019 season at Double-A Corpus Christi, where he went 4-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 22 games (17 starts). He recorded 103 strikeouts and 41 walks in 92 2/3 innings. The Astros acquired Bailey two years ago in the trade that sent Ramon Laureano to Oakland.
"What attracted them is the fact he had missed bats at Double-A," Goldstein said. "He's at an advanced level getting strikeouts. The changeup is plus-plus right now, and I think that's really what got them there. … In terms of Bailey, he's the most big league-ready of the three players we had selected just because he's had success at the upper levels already and he has the one pitch that could work in the big leagues right now."
Ramirez, 24, is one of the hardest throwers in the Astros system but lacks control. While posting a 3.99 ERA in 27 games (15 starts) between Class A Advanced Fayetteville and Double-A Corpus Christi, he struck out 158 batters and walked 74 in 106 innings.
"You guys don't need to be super advanced baseball people to look at the page on Baseball Reference and see all the walks," Goldstein said. "It's going to come down to going to Arizona this spring and seeing if he can throw more strikes. The stuff is there. It's some of the better stuff we have in the system. There's just control issues."
Arauz, 21, hit .249 with a .319 on-base percentage, 11 homers and 55 RBIs in 425 at-bats combined between Fayetteville and Corpus Christi. The Astros acquired him in 2015 from the Phillies in the trade that brought Ken Giles to Houston.
"You used to see more of these picks, these guys that can give you a little bit of flexibility," Goldstein said. "He can play multiple positions in the dirt, makes a lot of contact."