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Rule 5: Astros swipe Fields from Sox12/06/2012 7:32 PM ET
By Andrew Pentis / Special to MLB.com
Fifteen Minor League ballplayers will get a Major League shot playing for a new organization.
The rebuilding Astros and Marlins made two picks each in the MLB phase of Thursday's annual Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings in Nashville. Houston selected Boston Red Sox reliever Josh Fields, a first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, with the top overall choice.
"First thing I can say is I am so blessed to have this opportunity," Fields told Pawtucket broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith. "I had no idea that I was seen as one of the most likely guys to get taken, had no idea that I was even going to be close to No. 1."
A 27-year-old right-handed reliever, Fields was traded from the Mariners to the Red Sox in a late-July deal in 2011 involving veteran lefty Erik Bedard. In his only season in Boston's Minor League system, Fields compiled a 2.01 ERA and a 78-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 58 1/3 innings spanning 42 games split between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. Thanks to improved command of his plus fastball and breaking ball, he held opponents to a .183 batting average.
Per Rule 5 rules, the Astros must pay the Red Sox $50,000 for the rights to Fields, whom Boston left off its 40-man roster and thus unprotected. To retain his rights, Houston must also keep Fields on its 25-man roster throughout the 2013 season. (If he does not stay off the disabled list and remain on the 25-man roster for at least 90 days, he will be offered back to Boston for $25,000.)
The same rules will also apply to the Astros' first pick in the second round, Padres first baseman Nate Freiman. Like Rangers first baseman Chris McGuiness, the fifth overall pick and now an Indian, he hit 20-plus home runs in the Minors last season.
Sluggers were more the exception than the rule, though, as nine of the 15 draftees were pitchers, including eighth overall selection Kyle Lobstein. The Mets nabbed the Double-A right-hander from the Rays organization, then sold him to the Tigers.
One other trade was reported in the immediate aftermath of the draft: Boston shipped seventh pick Jeff Kobernus, a second baseman in Washington's system, to Detroit for Minor League outfielder Justin Henry.
Another former first-round pick, Cubs' 2007 selection Michael Burgess, went first overall in the Triple-A portion of Thursday's Draft. Burgess, who goes from Chicago to Houston, was one of 27 ballplayers chosen in the latter round (complete results from Triple-A Phase.
* denotes pick was traded to Tigers immediately after the draft.
Major League Phase