Indians pitcher Luis Oviedo and outfielder Ka’ai Tom were selected in the first round of the Rule 5 MLB Draft today.
To make a long explanation short, players that are not on the 40-man major league roster and have also acquired a certain amount of service time in the minors are eligible to be poached by other organizations. In the major league portion of the draft, the team that selects this player must keep them on their active roster or the major league injured list for the entire regular season.
The Mets took Oviedo with the No. 10 pick, and the Athletics took Tom with the No. 26 pick. Oviedo posted a 5.38 ERA in 19 Single-A starts throughout 2019. Despite the stats, he was seen prior to the draft as a potential target. His 6’4 frame and 96 mph fastball ooze potential, and he already flashes command of a slider, curve, and changeup. The 21-year-old may well have flown up the Tribe system this season if given the opportunity.
Tom has never been heralded as a prospect with any real pedigree, but gaudy numbers can change perception in a hurry. Tom slashed .285/.386/.512 at Double-A in 2019 before earning a promotion to Triple-A, where slashed .298/.370/.564 with stellar defense in the outfield. He is much older at 26 years old. While he’s experienced at all three outfield spots it is likely that his speed and quickness allow him to play center at the major league level. That’s where the selection is a bit of a puzzle — the A’s already have Ramon Laureano, Mark Canha, Chad Pinder, Tony Kemp, and Stephen Piscotty in a crowded outfield situation.
On a personal note, my enthusiasm for Ka’ai as a player makes his selection by the One and Only Billy Beane feel somewhat foreboding. We shall see.