LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Rockies took a chance on a power arm by selecting right-handed reliever Tommy Kahnle from the Yankees in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at the end of the Winter Meetings.
Kahnle has a fastball that has been clocked in the 98-mph range, and he finished with 15 saves at Double-A Trenton last season. The 24-year-old struck out 74 in 60 innings, but he walked 46. Still, he held opponents to a .182 batting average and could be a part of the Rockies' 2014 bullpen if he harnesses his control. As teams such as the Cardinals demonstrated last season, relievers with power stuff can make a difference, even if they are inexperienced.
Kahnle must remain on the Major League 25-man roster throughout the '14 season or he will be offered back to the Yankees for $25,000. The Rockies paid $50,000 to make the pick.
"We had a couple of above-average reports on him as it relates to projection," said Jon Weil, the Rockies' director of professional scouting. "He pitches at 96-98 [mph], a big strong right-hander, good slider, attacks the zone very aggressively. He has a big, strong durable build [listed at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds]. We felt with the power he brings, he could bring a nice complement to compete for our bullpen.
"We've had interest in him for a couple of years now in various means of acquisition. Any time you can jump on a guy who has a chance to have impact, we're wanting to do that. We're glad he was there."
Kahnle, a fifth-round pick of the Yankees in 2010 from Lynn University, has posted an 11.82 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate since the start of the 2011 season.
The Rockies were at the center of the most talked about Rule 5 activity. The Rangers selected Russell Wilson from the Rockies in the Triple-A phase. Wilson spent two years as a second baseman in the Rockies' system. Right now, he's busy as a successful second-year quarterback of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, but if he'd like to work on hitting the slider, the Rangers have a place for him to try.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.