San Diego takes Cordoba with third pick, trade for Diaz, Torrens
Miguel Diaz averaged 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings during the 2016 season. (Ricky Bassman/MiLB.com)
By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | December 8, 2016 10:48 AM ET
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Padres were expected to be big movers Thursday. As it turns out, they came away with the Rule 5 Draft's top three selections.
San Diego traded for right-hander Miguel Diaz and catcher Luis Torrens -- who were taken with the first two picks by the Twins and Reds, respectively -- and took shortstop Allen Cordoba with the third pick in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft. Baseball America's J.J. Cooper and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo first reported the trades.
The Padres began the day with seven open spots on their 40-man roster and a desire for promising young talent at low cost, making them prime candidates to make multiple selections.
Players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they were signed at 18 or younger and have five or more seasons of pro ball experience or were signed at 19 or older and have four or more seasons of pro experience. In either case, the player must not have been protected by being placed on the 40-man roster. The drafting team must pay the player's previous organization $100,000 and offer him back for $50,000 if the player does not remain on the 25-man Major League roster for the entirety of the season. Those costs were doubled from previous Rule 5 Drafts as part of the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Diaz was the Brewers' No. 21 prospect before being taken by the Twins and sent to the Padres. The 22-year-old right-hander owns an impressive mid-90's fastball to go with an average slider, making him worth a bullpen look after going unprotected by Milwaukee. His control hasn't earned high grades, but he did average 2.8 walks per nine innings in the Midwest League last season. Diaz, who underwent elbow surgery in 2015, posted a 3.71 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 94 2/3 innings in 2016 for Class A Wisconsin.
The Padres also picked a potential backup catcher in Yankees No. 17 prospect Luis Torrens. The 20-year-old backstop missed the entire 2015 season with a torn labrum in his shoulder and struggled at the plate with a .230/.348/.317 line and two homers in 40 games at Class A Charleston in 2016. When healthy, the Venezuela native can be an impressive defensive catcher and showed off a good arm with a 40.7 percent caught-stealing rate across two levels last season.
Former Cardinals No. 19 prospect Cordoba might be the most interesting pick of the entire bunch. The 21-year-old shortstop has been incredibly impressive the last two seasons at the plate and has the tools to play a tough defensive position, but has yet to play above the Rookie-level Appalachian League. Cordoba was the Gulf Coast League MVP in 2015 after hitting .342/.401/.421 with 10 extra-base hits and 11 steals and improved on those numbers after moving up to Rookie-level Johnson City in 2016 with a .362/.427/.495 line and 22 steals this summer. It will be an uphill battle to stick in the Majors, but if Cordoba can ride out 2016 in San Diego, the Padres may have picked up the most promising player available.
Here are the rest of the selections made in the Major League and Triple-A portions of the 2016 Rule 5 Draft.
4.87 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 70 K, 39 BB in 81 1/3 IP in Mexican League
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.