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Rox pluck hometown lefty in Triple-A Rule 5

Highlands Ranch, Colo., native Horacek selected from Orioles
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- After being selected by the Rockies in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, lefty Mitch Horacek just might have a chance to come home.

Horacek, 26, picked from the Orioles, played at Thunder Ridge High School in Highlands Ranch, Colo., before pitching collegiately at Dartmouth. Rockies senior player development director Zach Wilson said Horacek will compete as a reliever.

DENVER -- After being selected by the Rockies in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, lefty Mitch Horacek just might have a chance to come home.

Horacek, 26, picked from the Orioles, played at Thunder Ridge High School in Highlands Ranch, Colo., before pitching collegiately at Dartmouth. Rockies senior player development director Zach Wilson said Horacek will compete as a reliever.

:: Rule 5 Draft coverage ::

In the Major League phase, the Rockies lost hard-throwing right-hander Julian Fernandez to the Giants with the second overall pick. The Giants paid $100,000 for the pick; a Rule 5 pick must remain on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days, or be offered back to his original team for $50,000.

The Rockies selected Horacek in the 46th round of the 2010 Draft, but he opted to go to college, and he was an Orioles ninth-round pick in '13. He went 5-3 with a 3.88 ERA in 32 games -- all in relief -- at Class A Advanced Frederick last season, and is 28-46 with a 4.23 ERA in five Minor League seasons. Last year was his first as a full-time reliever.

"Certainly he's got a chance to go to Triple-A," Wilson said during the MLB Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. "I would say he's coming to Spring Training to compete. Wherever he ends up, he ends up. He'll sit 92 [mph]. He's got a slurve that plays as a slider most of the time, but it can be a wipeout pitch at times."

Fernandez went 1-2 with a 3.26 ERA with three saves in 51 games for the Rockies' Class A Asheville club. He finished with 57 strikeouts and 18 walks in 58 innings pitched.

The Rockies value power pitchers, but they couldn't find room on their 40-man Major League roster for the 22-year-old Fernandez.

"I don't know if we expected it; I would say it doesn't surprise me, considering that he has one of the better fastballs you're going to see," Wilson said. "Everybody knows this guy's velocity. It's a big arm and he's got tremendous potential, certainly. And certainly, we liked him. So we wish him well right now. Who knows what's going to happen?"

Giants general manager Bobby Evans called Fernandez's 100-mph heater a "plus-plus" fastball.

"His breaking stuff is not as consistent, but has upside," Evans said.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies