Padres find 3 keepers through Rule 5 Draft

Diaz, Torrens, Cordoba to finish regular season with big league club

August 30th, 2017

SAN DIEGO -- It's been inevitable for a while, but on Wednesday it became official: The Padres will complete a small bit of history with three Rule 5 Draft picks poised to complete a full season in the Majors.
, and are Padres to stay.
As selections in December's Rule 5 Draft, all three needed to remain on the roster an entire season or be offered back to their original clubs. Wednesday marks the final game before rosters expand, meaning their places are secure. Since 2000 -- and perhaps longer -- no team has featured three Rule 5 Draft success stories.
"It was a collection of young talent that we felt could help the club in the future and contribute a bit this year," Padres general manager A.J. Preller said. "... Ultimately, our scouts did a good job of picking some guys that could make an impact down the road and handle the challenges of playing here this year."
Those challenges were plentiful. Torrens, once a Yankees prospect, had never played a game above Class A. He got off to a dreadful start, hitting .077 on May 20.
Cordoba, meanwhile, came out swinging. After consecutive Rookie League batting titles in the Cardinals organization, Cordoba found himself hitting .310 on June 2. Then, big league pitching caught up to him, and he's 9-for-86 (.105) since.

Diaz, taken first overall from Milwaukee in the Rule 5 Draft, returned from an elbow injury Tuesday and has posted a 6.82 ERA over 24 appearances this season, three of which were starts.

There's an argument to be made -- and it's been made often by teams that have seen their prospects plucked away in the Rule 5 Draft -- that an expedited trip to the big leagues is detrimental to a player's development. Torrens, for one, disagrees.
"It's hard in the sense that you always want to do well," Torrens said. "You don't want to struggle. And at the big leagues, you want to do well even more. But I've come up and I've been able to see what it's like at this level. I've had my goals, and I've learned a ton. I've learned in hitting, defensively, taking care of myself physically. There's so much stuff at this level that I've been able to see, and now I know more or less what it's like, what I have to work on."

There are also challenges that come with fielding a roster that features three players without the slightest Double-A experience. Padres skipper Andy Green has been significantly limited in his late-game options.
Green, to his credit, downplayed all of those challenges, touting the organization's commitment to keeping all three.
"I never really had a doubt," Green said. "I thought for sure they'd be here once they broke camp with us. We saw what they were capable of early in the year, and we always felt good about them being with us for the future."
The history of the Rule 5 Draft is littered with success stories like Roberto Clemente, Johan Santana and George Bell. The 2007 Reds were the last team to complete a full season with two Rule 5 Draft players -- one of whom was future Most Valuable Player Award winner and five-time All-Star Josh Hamilton.
The reality, however, is that few Rule 5 Draft picks become superstars. But many develop into useful big league players. A year ago, San Diego scooped from St. Louis. He made it through the 2016 season with his share of bumps. But Perdomo has since become a mainstay in the rotation.
"There have been a lot of success stories of guys coming out of the Rule 5 Draft," Preller said. "... It's about adding talent in a lot of different avenues, and our scouting department did a great job identifying these players. These are hard [prospects] to find."
Unlike Perdomo, the 2017 trio will likely begin next season in the Minors. All three have plenty of development left.
But Torrens is a high-ceiling defensive catcher. Cordoba is an athlete who's played six positions and projects as a shortstop. Diaz is a flame-thrower whose fastball sits at 96 mph with movement. What team wouldn't covet prospects like those?
"They're young, they have a lot of room for growth," Green said. "They're going to have to fight like crazy if they want to be back here. But I'm glad to have them all as Padres."