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Astros lose three minor league players to Rule 5 Draft

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Jonathan Arauz #93 of the Houston Astros turns a double play ahead of the slide by Jonathan Morales #87 of the Atlanta Braves in the ninth inning of a Grapefruit League spring training game at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 24, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros won 5-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Jonathan Arauz #93 of the Houston Astros turns a double play ahead of the slide by Jonathan Morales #87 of the Atlanta Braves in the ninth inning of a Grapefruit League spring training game at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 24, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros won 5-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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The Astros lost three players to the Rule 5 Draft.

Three Astros minor league players were selected by other teams in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday. The selecting teams will pay $100,000 to the Astros but must keep these players on their major league roster all season. If they do not, they must offer them back to the Astros for $50,000 unless another team claims them off waivers first.

The Orioles selected right-handed pitcher Brandon Bailey with the No. 2 pick, the Mariners chose right-handed pitcher Yohan Ramirez at No. 5, and the Red Sox took shortstop Jonathan Arauz at No. 10. The Astros did not select any players in the Rule 5 Draft this year.

The main purpose of the Rule 5 Draft is to prevent teams from stockpiling major league-ready talent in the minor leagues. The selecting teams will bring these players into Spring Training and let them attempt to carve themselves out a role on the roster for 2020. If they’re able to do that, this would be akin to finding a diamond in the rough.

The Players

Bailey, 25, was a sixth-round draft pick by Oakland in 2016 and came to the Astros in a November 2017 trade in exchange for outfielder Ramon Laureano. He spent all of 2019 with Double-A Corpus Christi, making 17 starts and five relief appearances.

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Across a total of 92.2 innings, Bailey worked to a 3.30 ERA with 10 strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.219 WHIP. He is not ranked among the organization’s Top 30 prospects but will have a decent shot at making a pitching-starved Orioles team.

The 24-year-old Ramirez was signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. He started 2019 in High-A ball and worked to a 2.89 ERA in 43.2 innings, but was less successful in Double-A to the tune of a 4.76 ERA in 62.1 innings. He is not among the team’s Top 30 prospects.

Ramirez has split time between starting and relieving and has shown a strong propensity to miss bats, registering 13.4 strikeouts per nine in 2019. But he’s also exhibited control issues that manifest themselves in a high walk rate, as he issued 74 free passes in 106 total innings. He’ll need to get that in check for the Mariners to justify keeping him.

Arauz is more of a known commodity and is ranked No. 25 among the organization’s top prospects. He came to the Astros from Philadelphia in December 2015 alongside Ken Giles and is still just 21 years old, having started his professional baseball career at age 16.

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He’s solid defensively but has struggled with the bat, though part of that can be attributed to his youth relative to the competition. He got his first taste of Double-A in 2019 and hit .241/.311/.389 and could serve as a utility infielder for Boston if he can stick, as utilityman Brock Holt is a free agent.

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