Rangers active in Rule 5 Draft

The Texas Rangers acquired Rule 5 Draft selection Mason Tobin in a trade from the Cubs on Thursday morning. The club also nabbed a pair of minor leaguers in the draft's Triple-A phase. Lone Star Dugout looks at the three players.

Though the Texas Rangers didn't select a player in the Major League portion of Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft, the club did acquire a drafted player via trade.

Texas landed right-hander Mason Tobin, getting him from the Cubs for cash considerations. Tobin, a product of the Angels, was selected by Chicago with the eighth pick of the first round on Thursday.

As a Major League selection, Tobin must remain on Texas' 25-man roster for the entire 2011 season, or he will be offered back to the Angels for $25,000. The Rangers can work out a trade with the Angels to retain Tobin's rights if he fails to make the roster. The club did the same with Rule 5 pick Ben Snyder last season, keeping the left-hander by sending pitcher Edwin Escobar to the Giants.

Tobin's injury history––and thus, lack of experience––likely make him a long shot to make the Rangers' roster out of Spring Training, but he is an intriguing prospect with a powerful arm.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound hurler has logged only 40 innings over the last three seasons and last pitched in 2009. Tobin made eight starts with Single-A Cedar Rapids in '08, posting a 3.13 ERA while walking 18 and striking out 18 in 37.1 innings. He made his final appearance in early-June before sitting out with a strained shoulder.

The Angels elected to move their hard-throwing prospect into a closing role with High-A Rancho Cucamonga the following season, but he was once again shut down––this time after only three appearances––and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery.

Tobin hasn't appeared in an official game since April 15, 2009. After missing nearly the entire '09 campaign, he sat out in 2010 while rehabbing and undergoing another cleanup procedure on his right elbow. However, he is expected to be fully healthy and ready to pitch in Spring Training this year.

Prior to Tommy John surgery, Tobin routinely flashed a mid-90s fastball (touching a bit higher at times) with plenty of late life from a low three-quarters arm slot. He also has a mid-80s slider and a changeup.

Tobin impressed Angels brass in '09 when he appeared in big league exhibition games on consecutive days, working against the Dodgers and Padres, respectively. The former 16th-round pick worked 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit, walking zero, and striking out two.

In the first outing, Tobin pitched a shutout frame and threw all of his fastballs between 95 and 97 mph. He faced one batter the next night, facing Chase Headley and fanning him on an 85 mph slider.

The video of Tobin's at-bat against Headley has been embedded below.

Tobin's acquisition puts the Rangers' 40-man roster at capacity.

• The club also acquired two players via the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft in catcher Jessie Mier and left-hander Starling de la Rosa.

Mier, 25, was plucked from the Los Angeles Dodgers system, where he has played since being selected as a 12th-round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft. The backstop appeared in 46 games at Double-A Chattanooga in 2010, hitting .269/.342/.345 and gunning down 24-of-60 (40%) attempted base stealers.

The Lewis-Clark State product also played in the Arizona Fall League in 2009. Mier appeared in 11 games and was 6-for-36 (.167) at the plate with a double, five walks, and 10 strikeouts.

He should provide catching depth to Texas' Double- and Triple-A squads, as Elio Sarmiento (Frisco), Kevin Richardson (Oklahoma City) and fellow Lewis-Clark State alum Emerson Frostad (Frisco/OKC) are all likely departing the organization as minor league free agents.

• A slim southpaw at 6-foot-5, 160-pounds, de la Rosa was selected from the Kansas City organization. He began last season in Extended Spring Training before eventually pitching at three levels––the rookie Pioneer league, Low-A Midwest League, and High-A Carolina League. Between the three levels, the 23-year-old had a 5.92 ERA in 48.2 innings, yielding 50 hits, walking 35, and striking out 53.

De la Rosa, who initially signed with the Royals in 2006, played three seasons in the Dominican Summer League and one in the rookie Arizona League before finally graduating the complex circuits this past summer.

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