White Sox popular targets in Draft
Combined five prospects lost in all phases of Rule 5 lottery
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For a team whose overall Minor League system has not exactly received the highest marks recently, the White Sox certainly were a popular target during Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.
The closing event of Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings featured five White Sox players selected by other teams between the Major League and Triple-A phases. Fernando Hernandez Jr., taken with the ninth pick by the Oakland A's, was the team's most notable loss.
Hernandez, 23, finished with nine saves and a 3.06 ERA in 60 games for Double-A Birmingham last season, fanning 84 over 85 1/3 innings. The right-hander followed up that showing with a near-perfect performance as part of the Arizona Fall League, yielding two unearned runs on five hits in 12 2/3 innings.
But Hernandez was exposed to the Draft when he was not added to the White Sox 40-man roster.
"He's a 6-foot, right-handed pitcher, who throws strikes and gets people out," said White Sox Minor League director Alan Regier of Hernandez. "There were not any hickeys with him. He's healthy. He's got good makeup.
"However, we felt when we looked up at our board and had to make the decision on the 40-man between the Dewon Days and the Adam Russells and the group of guys we had coming up, we felt that [Hernandez] fell short of our projections on the 40-man. He's healthy, and we wish him the best."
Left-handed starters Ray Liotta (Royals) and Ryan Rodriguez (Orioles) were taken third and fourth, respectively, in the Triple-A phase, with right-hander Garry Bakker (Mets) going 16th and outfielder Daron Roberts chosen 23rd (Marlins). Roberts had solid numbers last year for Class A Winston-Salem, hitting .281 with 12 home runs, 59 RBIs and 19 stolen bases.
Santo Luis stood as the only add-on for the White Sox in the Triple-A phase, with the 23-year-old right-hander moving eighth overall from the Houston organization to Triple-A Charlotte. Luis posted a 4.66 ERA over 44 games for the Class A Lexington Legends in 2007, but he also struck out 99 in 75 1/3 innings, averaging 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings, and held opponents to a .228 average.
Luis possesses a power arm, with a fastball up to 94 mph. White Sox scouts like his velocity and, with help on his delivery, figure to get a few more strikes from him.
Both Day and catcher Cole Armstrong currently reside on the White Sox 40-man after previous selection in the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. The White Sox have not added a player from the Major League side since Jason Grilli in 2003, but have lost players in three straight Drafts (Fabio Castro, 2005, and Jay Marshall, 2006).
"We put the players on the roster as a group decision, where we felt they would bring some value back to the ballclub," Regier said. "We didn't have any surprises and collectively gathered our opinions leading up to this Draft, and the other teams made their decisions as such."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.