LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Royals, with their deep and talented farm system, often have been victimized in the annual Rule 5 Draft of Minor League players.
Last year, for example, they lost five players to other clubs. On Thursday, however, just one player was taken from their organization.
Pitcher Tyler Sample, a 6-foot-7 right-hander from Denver, was selected by the Pirates in the first round of the Triple-A phase for $12,000. This year, Sample, 24, had a 2-4 record and a 5.06 ERA in 18 games (eight starts) for Class A Wilmington, where he's spent the last three seasons.
"It was pretty quiet. You hope it goes that way because you don't want to lose anybody," said J.J. Picollo, Royals assistant general manager-scouting and player development. "Unfortunately, we lost Tyler. He's a big kid with a lot of projection to him. He's got a pretty good fastball and a pretty good breaking ball. You hate to lose him because you want to stay with that type of kid as long as you can, but Pittsburgh will do a good job with him and we'll see what happens."
The Royals had an open spot on their 40-man Major League roster but made no Rule 5 selections. Taking a player in the Major League phase means keeping him on the 25-man active roster all season or offering him back to his original club for half the $50,000 purchase price.
"Where our club is, it's different right now," Picollo said. "Relievers tend to jump out at you and our bullpen is good. And we feel like we have guys at Triple-A that are capable of jumping in and being part of that bullpen. So we didn't feel like there was anybody markedly better than what we had."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com.