591712Rays minor league catcher Oscar Hernandez was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the first pick of the Rule 5 draft.

The Rule 5 draft is designed to protect players who may be “stuck” in one team’s farm system. If a player has been in the minors for a certain number of years (4 or 5 depending on age) and still hasn’t been added to the 40-man major league roster, they can be taken by another team for a small fee.

Hernandez is an interesting case because he is 21, is not considered one of the Rays’ top 20 prospects, and has never played above single-A, hitting .249 with 9 home runs and a .301 OBP in 2014. In addition, catchers typically have a steeper learning curve and need more time in the minors than other positions.

And yet, if the Diamondbacks want to keep Hernandez, they have to keep him in the majors all year or offer him back to the Rays, again for a small fee.

That is easier to do with a young pitcher whom teams can just stick in the bullpen and use only during blowouts. But when most teams carry just two catchers and need both to play, it seems like a long shot for Hernandez to stick with Arizona.

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4 Comments

  1. angrybuddha says:

    Why would Arizona make this move? There's almost 0 chance that an A-ball catcher will play in the majors for an entire season, so what's their angle?

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    • Drew says:

      Because they are stupid and just traded away Miguel Montero for a #20ish and unranked organizational prospect with no backup catcher. Maybe they are plan on signing an extremely durable veteran catcher (an A.J. Pierzynski or equivalent) to eat up most of the time and be a good teacher. Still a crappy idea but that's the only thing I can think of. Also, the DBacks have nothing to lose; they aren't contending any time soon.

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      • OriginalTom says:

        It is not a bad risk for the Dbacks, they only have to pay 50K for him and if he does not make the team I believe they have to offer him back to the Rays for 25K. Also, as you said above it is not like they expect to compete for the playoffs this season.

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  2. Dave L says:

    Its just incredible that with our traditionally offensively challenged organization. and catcher being a particular weak position, that of all the thousands of MiLB baseball players throughout north america not on someones 40 man, the one first deemed to be worthy of the risk was a Rays A level catcher.

    Lately only a handful of Rule 5 guys get tabbed and half get returned so its likely to be just a weird footnote. Part of the problem is the Rays traditionally thrive on young arms who respond best to wily old backstops to help their development and success, so its hard for a catcher to come up, who has holes in staff management as all do.

    It will be interesting to see if the new regime continues with the same ideas.

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