History of Rangers' Rule 5 Draft picks

December 10th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Kenny Esposito was a lifelong Yankees fan from Long Island who loved to play the guitar. He was also a left-handed pitcher of considerable ability.

The Mets took him in the second round of the 1969 MLB Draft out of Nassau County Community College. At the time, the Mets' director of player development was Whitey Herzog.

Three years later, on Nov. 2, 1972, Herzog was hired as manager of the Rangers. So obviously Herzog followed Esposito closely as the young left-hander tried to make his way through the Mets' farm system.

That winter, Esposito was the first ever selection by the Rangers in the annual Rule 5 Draft. But Esposito did not make the Rangers and pitched just two more seasons in professional baseball. He ended up in a popular two-man rock group, Mike and Kenny on Long Island.

The Rangers went another 10 years before they took another player in the Rule 5 Draft. Since then, they have been relatively active.

An actor, twins, a Heisman Trophy winner and an All-Star pitcher are among the players taken by the Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft. Here's a rundown of every pick.

1982: Padres right-hander Odell Jones
Jones did not make the team out of Spring Training, but he was re-acquired in a trade. He had a brief run as the Rangers' closer in 1983, saving 10 games before his elbow wore down.

1983: Padres left-hander Pat Underwood
He was the second overall pick in the 1976 MLB Draft out of Kokomo (Ind.) High School. He made his first big league start on May 31, 1979, against the Blue Jays. The opposing pitcher was his brother, Tom. Pat ended up the winning pitcher in a 1-0 victory. Later that season, Pat started for the Tigers on Disco Demolition Night against the White Sox at Comiskey Park. The Rangers released him in Spring Training '83 and he never appeared in the big leagues again.

1984: Padres left-hander Mitch Williams
This time the Rangers had just hired Sandy Johnson to be their scouting and player development director. Williams did not make the team but was kept by way of a trade. The “Wild Thing” was just getting started, pitching three seasons with the Rangers before going on to be an All-Star with the Cubs and helping the Phillies reach the World Series.

1985: Yankees right-hander Scott Patterson
The Rangers sent him back to the Yankees in Spring Training, and he never pitched in the big leagues. Patterson ended having a long career as an actor and musician, with TV credits that included Seinfeld, Arliss, Silk Stalkings and a regular role as Luke Danes on the Gilmore Girls.

1986: Pirates outfielder Cecil Espy
Espy was returned to the Pirates and re-acquired by trade. He opened the 1989 season as the Rangers' leadoff hitter, stealing 45 bases that season before fading out.

1988: Indians right-hander Darrel Akerfelds
Akerfelds did not make the team, but he was re-acquired in a trade and pitched in six games for the Rangers in '89. He later became a highly respected bullpen coach for 11 years with the Padres.

1989: Yankees right-hander Ramon Manon
After the 1990 Spring Training lockout, clubs were allowed to keep two extra players for the first month of the season. Manon pitched in one game for the Rangers, then he was returned to the Yankees. He never pitched in the big leagues again.

1994: Orioles right-hander Francisco Saneaux
This was a big deal at the time because Doug Melvin had just been hired from the Orioles to be the Rangers' general manager. Melvin took the job saying that he would upgrade the club’s pro scouting ranks and things like the Rule 5 Draft would be of greater importance. The Rangers took a pitcher from the Orioles' system -- creating quite the stir -- but Saneaux didn't end up making the team.

1995: Dodgers left-hander Mark Mimbs and Yankees right-hander Tim Rumer
Mimbs didn’t make the Rangers, but he did get to pitch against twin brother Mike, who was with the Phillies, during one Grapefruit League game in Clearwater, Fla. It was a big story at the time. Mark didn’t make the Majors, but he had two years in Japan. Rumer didn’t pitch in the big leagues either, but he had a long career working with Mizuno, the Japanese baseball equipment company.

1998: Expos outfielder Ricky Williams
The Expos actually made this Rule 5 pick, plucking Williams from the Phillies, who had selected him in the 1995 MLB Draft. The Rangers immediately acquired Williams from Montreal for $100,000, but the University of Texas running back had just won the Heisman Trophy and couldn't be convinced to give up his football career.

2002: Indians infielder Marshall McDougall and Reds pitcher John Koronka
The Rangers kept McDougall in a trade but returned Koronka to the Reds. Three years later, they acquired him back in a trade and Koronka won seven games for them in 2006.

2003: Athletics right-hander Chris Mabeus
He had saved 15 games in the Minor Leagues the previous season, but did not make the Rangers in Spring Training and was sent back to the A's.

2005: White Sox left-hander Fabio Castro
He was 5-foot-7 with a big arm and erratic control. The Rangers tried to hide him in the bullpen, on the disabled list and on a rehab assignment for three months, but they finally gave up after four games, eight innings and seven walks and traded him to the Phillies.

2005: Athletics outfielder Alexi Ogando
Possibly the shrewdest move in Rangers history came when they took Ogando from the Athletics in the Rule 5 Draft's Minor League phase and turned him into a pitcher. In 2011, he was pitching for the American League in an All-Star Game.

2009 Giants pitcher Ben Snyder
Snyder did not make the team, but he was kept in a trade, though he never reached Arlington and was last seen pitching in Taiwan.

2010: Angels right-hander Mason Tobin
Tobin was another big arm who was coming back from Tommy John surgery. The Rangers took a chance, but it didn’t work out.

2012: Rockies right-hander Coty Woods
Woods really loved baseball and badly wanted to make the Rangers. He did not want to get sent back to Colorado. He was and ended up being another pitcher ruined by the high altitude, but his troubles came at Colorado Springs, not Denver.

2014: Astros outfielder Delino DeShields
DeShields spent four years with the Rangers and remains their best ever Rule 5 Draft pick position player. He was traded to Cleveland in the package for Corey Kluber in December 2019.

2016: Astros right-hander Mike Hauschild
He made the Opening Day roster, allowed 10 runs in eight innings and was sent back to Houston.

2017: Phillies outfielder Carlos Tocci
One of the biggest mysteries in Rangers history is why they felt the need to keep Tocci on the big league roster for an entire season when it was plainly obvious he couldn’t hit. He was released in August 2019.

2018: Blue Jays right-hander Jordan Romano
Romano did not make the team and was sent back to Toronto. He pitched in 15 games for the Blue Jays in 2020 and had a 1.23 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 14 innings. He might be the one the Rangers should have kept.

2020: Dodgers right-handed pitcher Brett de Geus
He was the No. 2 overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft and has a real shot at winning a spot in the Rangers bullpen next spring.