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Astros deal Rule 5 pick Schuster to Padres

Club acquires right-hander Bass in exchange, passes on San Diego's selection

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As the holders of the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 Draft for the third year in a row, the Astros talked to other clubs on Thursday morning to see if there was any interest in moving up to that position.

The Padres took them up on that offer, sending right-handed pitcher Anthony Bass to Houston in exchange for the top pick, which wound up being left-handed pitcher Patrick Schuster. The Astros also covered the $50,000 cost to make the pick.

As part of the deal, the Padres were going to pick for the Astros in the first round, but the player Houston wanted was gone, so the club passed.

"We figured getting a player with options who has Major League experience was, in our situation, a little wiser than selecting somebody that hasn't played in the Major Leagues and would have to stay up here all year," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said.

In the Triple-A phase, Houston selected outfielder Ravel Santana (Yankees) and left-handed pitcher Carlos Vazquez (Mets). In the Double-A phase, the Astros selected left-handed pitcher Blaine Sims (Braves), a knuckleballer.

Santana, 21, didn't play last season because of a serious ankle injury. He's played in the Yankees' Minor League system since 2009 -- hitting .265 with 36 doubles, 27 homers, 114 RBIs, 43 stolen bases and a .365 on-base percentage in 214 games.

The Astros got a fresh look at him in the instructional league this fall and decided he was worth a shot.

"Ravel Santana is a guy who was once a very highly rated prospect in the Yankees' system," said pro scouting coordinator Kevin Goldstein. "He was a big-hype international signing, he's loaded with tools and he's had some injury problems the last couple of years. He's a player we talked about during the year."

Vazquez, 22, has been in the Mets' system for five seasons, and he has posted a 22-8 record with a 3.20 ERA and 255 strikeouts in 112 appearances (26 starts). The left-hander played for Class A St. Lucie in 2013, going 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA, while allowing just a .221 opponent's batting average. The Mexico native has also played parts of two seasons in the Mexican League (2011, '13).

"Just a big arm one of our scouts liked," Goldstein said.

Sims, 24, was originally signed by Atlanta as a non-drafted free agent out of Arkansas Tech University in 2010 and has made 92 total appearances in the Braves' system. The knuckleballer pitched in 20 games across three lower levels in 2013, striking out 56 batters in 53 1/3 innings.

"Blaine Sims was a guy our scout down in Georgia, Will Sharp, saw him come out of the bullpen a couple of times, and he's a guy who's had some issues with throwing a knuckleball," Goldstein said. "He's been throwing it for a year, and Will saw a Major League-quality moving knuckleball. He'll just need to learn how to control it more. We thought for the cost of a Double-A Minor League pick [$4,000], we'd take a chance on it."

The only player Houston lost was right-hander Enderson Franco, who played at Rookie League Greeneville last season.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
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