newsCO.com.au –Royals add pair of high picks in Rule 5 Draft

December 18, 2017

@newsCOflash

2017-12-14 16:30:43

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Royals did not leave the Winter Meetings empty-handed.

While the Royals did not make any trades or free-agent signings, they were active in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, acquiring the Reds’ No. 5 pick, right-hander Brad Keller, and the Mets’ No. 6 pick, right-hander Burch Smith, both for cash ($100,000 each). The Royals passed with their selection at No. 13.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Royals did not leave the Winter Meetings empty-handed.

While the Royals did not make any trades or free-agent signings, they were active in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, acquiring the Reds’ No. 5 pick, right-hander Brad Keller, and the Mets’ No. 6 pick, right-hander Burch Smith, both for cash ($100,000 each). The Royals passed with their selection at No. 13.

Both players must remain on the 25-man roster the entire season or be offered back to their original club — Keller (Arizona) and Smith (Tampa Bay).

:: Rule 5 Draft coverage ::

The Royals did not lose anyone in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft.

Royals assistant general manager of baseball operations Scott Sharp said Keller is a possible starter, and Smith could be a power reliever.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Keller was an 8th-round pick in 2013 out of Flowery Branch High School in Georgia. The 22-year-old went 10-9 with a 4.68 ERA in Double-A last year and had 111 strikeouts in 130 2/3 innings.

Keller was the D-backs’ No. 12 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com.

“He is a high upside pitcher who can start,” Sharp said. “We had him ranked among the top two picks for this Draft.”

Smith, 27, was an 11th-round pick by the Padres in 2011 out of the University of Oklahoma. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder later was dealt to Tampa Bay in the Wil Myers trade.

Smith also missed 2015-16 because of Tommy John surgery but dominated at Class A Advanced and Triple-A last season, posting a 2.40 ERA and striking out 56 in 56 1/3 innings.

“He is the most advanced guy in the Draft,” Sharp said. “Can get up to a 100 [mph]. Power stuff. Good changeup. Can go multiple innings or late-inning guy — a variety of stuff.

“He has had some injuries in his past, but nothing we weren’t comfortable with.”

The Royals also took right-hander Daniel Duarte from Texas in the Minor League portion of the Rule 5 Draft. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Duarte went 6-1 with a 1.96 ERA in 37 relief outings last season in the Mexican League (on loan from the Rangers).

“Throws three pitches, throws strikes,” Royals Minor League director Ronnie Richardson said. “Our scouts liked him. We’re excited to have him.”

The Royals lost right-hander Andrew Ferguson from Double-A Northwest Arkansas to Boston and infielder Wander Franco from Class A Wilmington to San Francisco in the Minor League portion of the Rule 5 Draft.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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