Yankees lose five players in Rule 5 Draft

Trenton closer Tommy Kahnle, injured OF Ravel Santana among quintet selected
12/12/2013 1:23 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

The Rockies must either keep RHP Tommy Kahnle on their 25-man roster all season or offer him back to the Yankees.(Troy Record)
The Yankees did not select anyone in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, but they did lose five 2013 Baby Bombers to the selection process, as RHPs Tommy Kahnle, Mikey O’Brien, Felipe Gonzalez, and Kelvin Castro and outfielder Ravel Santana were claimed in the process.

In the Major League phase of the draft, the Colorado Rockies took Kahnle, a fifth-round draft pick in 2010 who spent last season at Double-A Trenton. The 24-year-old righty was 1-3 with a 2.85 ERA, 15 saves, and 74 strikeouts in 60 innings over 46 appearances for the Thunder, and was likely to open the season in Triple-A if not with a chance to make the Major League roster.

The selection cost the Rockies $50,000, and they must either keep Kahnle on their 25-man roster all season or offer him back to the Yankees for half of the selection price.

O’Brien (Cincinnati), Gonzalez (Pittsburgh), and Santana (Houston) were selected in the Triple-A phase of the draft, which costs them only $12,000 and does not have the same roster requirements as the Major League portion.

The most advanced of the trio is O’Brien, a 23-year-old 2008 draft pick who split last season between Class-A Advanced Tampa and Trenton and went 8-10 with a 4.17 ERA in 27 appearances (25 starts).

Gonzalez, 22, was signed as an international free agent in 2008 and spent five years in the Dominican Summer League before moving up to the Gulf Coast League, where he was 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA in 11 outings for the Yankees 2 squad this season.

Santana, meanwhile, is the youngest of the bunch, but a severely broken ankle suffered while sliding into second base late in 2011 has made him a question mark ever since. The now-21-year-old had a breakout 2011 in the GCL, hitting .296 with nine homers in 41 games, before breaking his ankle, but posted just a .216-3-19 line in 60 games at Short-Season Class-A Staten Island in 2012 and did not play in 2013 while dealing with both stiffness in that ankle as well as a broken arm.

The final player the Yankees lost was Castro, who was selected by Miami in the Double-A portion of the draft. At 26, he is the oldest of the bunch, but split last season between Staten Island and Class-A Charleston as he finished his conversion from position player to pitcher; the righty had spent seven seasons in the system as an infielder before switching to the mound late in 2012, and he was 2-2 with a 3.20 ERA, two saves, and 44 strikeouts in 33.2 innings over 20 relief appearances last season.

Overall, 45 players were selected in the three phases of the draft, with Kahnle was one of just nine players selected in the Major League phase.

Outside of the Baby Bombers, there were two notable names among the 34 taken in the Triple-A phase; the first was ex-Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon (taken by Baltimore after spending most of last season with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate), and the other was current Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who was drafted by the Rockies in 2010 and spent two seasons in their system as a second baseman before deciding to play football full-time.

Wilson was technically eligible for the Rule 5 draft because the Rockies still held his rights, and he was selected by Texas one pick after the Reds chose O’Brien.

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