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Royals add righties McWilliams, Ellis in Rule 5

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

LAS VEGAS -- Hoping to find another Brad Keller, the Royals added right-handers Sam McWilliams and Chris Ellis through Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

With the No. 2 pick in the Draft, the Royals selected McWilliams, 23, from the Tampa Bay system. Later, the Royals acquired Ellis, the Rangers' first selection, who had been in the Cardinals' system.

LAS VEGAS -- Hoping to find another Brad Keller, the Royals added right-handers Sam McWilliams and Chris Ellis through Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

With the No. 2 pick in the Draft, the Royals selected McWilliams, 23, from the Tampa Bay system. Later, the Royals acquired Ellis, the Rangers' first selection, who had been in the Cardinals' system.

McWilliams and Ellis both will have to stay on the 25-man roster the entire season or be returned to their original teams. The Royals' roster now is full at 40.

The Royals found magic in last year's Rule 5 Draft with Keller, who emerged as the team's best starter.

McWilliams, originally an eighth-round pick of the Phillies in 2014, combined for a 7-9 record and a 4.38 ERA at Double-A Montgomery, Class A Advanced Visalia and Class A Advanced Charlotte.

"Big, lanky right-hander [6-foot-7] who we think has a lot of upside," Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. "He's just starting to come into his own. Not too dissimilar [from] Keller last year. We just think he's going to get better. He's got a big fastball, good slider. We see him as a starter down the road.

"Slider is his out pitch. But his fastball is mid-90s and sometimes better than that."

Ellis, 26, pitched at Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis in the Cardinals' system last season, going 10-4 with a 3.93 ERA. He originally was a third-round pick by the Angels in the 2014 Draft.

"He's got a big, heavy fastball, cutter," Picollo said. "Plus fastball. We like his curveball."

Interestingly, the Royals lost right-hander Elvis Luciano to the Blue Jays in the Rule 5 Draft. Luciano, their No. 23 prospect, was acquired last summer from Arizona in the Jon Jay trade.

Luciano is only 18 but was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft because his original contract with the D-backs was voided after a failed physical. He eventually signed with Arizona again, but because of a loophole, he became subject to the Rule 5 Draft.

"He's been in Rookie [League] ball so it's a big jump for him," Picollo said. "We talked about it internally that there would be a chance he'd get taken. It's a big arm, no doubt."

The Royals also selected catcher Chris Rabago from the Yankees' organization in the Minor League portion of the Rule 5 Draft, then traded him to the Rockies.

And the Royals lost left-hander Luis Lugo to the Cubs in the Minor League portion of the Draft. The Royals had signed Lugo, from Venezuela, before last season after scouting him in the Italian League.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Chris Ellis, Sam McWilliams