On Thursday, MLB held the annual Rule 5 Draft, and for the Houston Astros, the losses exceeded the gains. Here is a breakdown of what happened.
As expected, the Astros lost Jose Alberto Rivera to the Los Angeles Angels early in the draft; he was highlighted as the best prospect that Houston didn’t protect. The 23-year-old has struggled to make his way up the minors, which led to him being unprotected. The right-hander never exceeded Low-A ball but was ranked 14th by MLB Pipeline of the Astros prospects. As a lanky-reliever, Rivera has a fastball that touches 100 mph. The Angels must keep Rivera on their 26-man roster for the 2021 season or he will be sent back to the Astros. The odds of this happening are leaning toward a return to Houston, but Los Angeles has battled issues with their bullpen more recently and will need a healthy, ready Rivera.
In the minor league phase, the New York Mets selected out fielding prospect Drew Ferguson. The right-hander was claimed in the Rule 5 Draft by the San Francisco Giants back in 2018 but was shipped back to Houston in 2019. In his most recent season in 2019, Ferguson played for the AAA Round Rock Express, where he hit .281/.395.440. These are great numbers for the outfield prospect, but in recent years, the Astros outfield has been stacked.
Additionally, the Astros lost catcher Chuckie Robinson to the Cincinnati Reds. The right-handed hitter slashed .217/.276/.324, which are below average and led to the Astros not protecting the 25-year-old or even assigning him to the majors. Robinson can also play first base at a very average level, but behind the plate, he has a career fielding percentage of .994, which might come as a value in the future for the Reds.
The Astros added relievers Joe Record from the Minnesota Twins and Seth Martinez from the Oakland A’s in the MiLB phase. Record is a right-hander that’s fairly new to baseball. Over two seasons in A ball, the 6-foot-3, 232 pound pitcher has a 5.07 ERA, but his substantial standout statistic has been his strikeout rate. As a power pitcher, he is striking out 11.1 batter per 9 innings. If he can lower his hit rate, the Astros have a chance at a strikeout pitcher for the future, but his college playing experience hasn’t greatly helped him with his progression in the minor leagues.
Martinez is a 26-year-old right-hander who has bounced around with his time in the minor leagues. As primarily a relief pitcher, Martinez tried the starting role in 2017, but it shot up his ERA. The stamina and distance into ball games isn’t quiet there for Martinez, but the former Arizona State Sun Devil has increased his strike out rate and decreased his ERA in the last two years. Record and Martinez are both former college pitchers who are climbing in age, but their progressions show they could see a major league mound in the next couple seasons.