Rangers add three in minor league Rule 5

Although the Major League Phase of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft was quiet from the Texas Rangers' standpoint, the club picked up three players in the draft's minor league portion. Lone Star Dugout profiles the three minor leaguers acquired.

From the Texas Rangers' perspective, the Major League Phase of the 2011 Rule 5 Draft came and went without much action on Thursday morning. The Rangers didn't select a player, and they also didn't lose a prospect to another club. In fact, only 12 total players were selected in this year's draft––the lowest total since '05.

Texas hasn't lost a player via the major league phase since Baltimore selected hard-throwing righty Alfredo Simon in December '06. Simon was returned to the Rangers in mid-spring that next season and went on to pitch the entire '07 campaign at Triple-A Oklahoma.

While Texas also didn't lose a player in the minor league portion of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, the club continued to use the minor league phase to add depth to its system. The Rangers selected three minor league players––left-handed pitcher Fabian Williamson (Oakland), outfielder Efrain Nunez (Seattle), and infielder Alex Buchholz (Cincinnati). Although all three were taken in the Triple-A phase, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be playing in Triple-A next season.

  • Williamson, 23, joins his fourth organization since being drafted in 2006. Originally selected in the 22nd round by the Mariners, he was dealt to Boston in exchange for David Aardsma prior to the '09 season. Williamson was then sent to Oakland in mid-'10 for utility man Eric Patterson. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound southpaw is coming off a rough season in which he posted a 7.16 ERA in 22 appearances (12 starts) between High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. In 71.2 innings, he gave up 89 hits while walking 45 and striking out 57.

    Despite the poor results in 2011, Williamson has a talented arm and a good pitcher's frame. The California native flashes plus velocity (reaching 94 mph on occasion) with life on his fastball and a good slider. He also earns solid marks for his strength and athleticism. However, as the numbers show, his command has been a major issue through his minor league career.

    Depending on his performance in spring training, Williamson should open the '12 campaign at either High-A Myrtle Beach or Double-A Frisco.

  • Nunez, 20, is a former big-money signing out of the Dominican Republic, as he inked with the Mariners for a reported $450,000 during the summer of 2007. He's a switch-hitting outfielder with a 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame.

    While Nunez is still young and has raw talent, he hasn't played above the rookie level in four professional seasons. After a strong debut with Seattle's Dominican Summer League club in '08, he batted just .195 for the rookie-level Peoria Mariners the following summer. He went back to the DSL in '10, hitting only .205/.368/.305 in 55 contests.

    Nunez is actually coming off the best season of his professional career. He played the '11 campaign with short-season Pulaski of the Appalachian League and posted a .291/.367/.507 slash line in 44 contests. He belted six doubles, four triples, and six home runs while drawing 13 walks and striking out 47 times. Nunez was noted for his raw power at the time he signed, and the Rangers are surely hopeful his performance this past summer was an indicator that he can emerge further.

    The outfielder, who turns 21 in February, figures to compete for an outfield job with Single-A Hickory during spring training.

  • Buchholz, 24, is a versatile infielder regarded as being solid with the glove. He played the vast majority of his games at third base in 2011 but has also seen significant action at both second base and shortstop in past years. The University of Delaware product is a righty hitter, righty thrower and is listed at 6-foot-0, 182-pounds. A sixth-round pick of Cincinnati in '08, he made some waves while hitting .396 in 34 games with rookie-level Billings during his debut summer.

    The utility infielder has since worked his way up to High-A Bakersfield, where he appeared in 92 games last season and posted a .284/.335/.404 slash line with 15 doubles and eight round-trippers. He had 27 walks and 35 strikeouts while also stealing six bases in 14 attempts.

    Buchholz is most likely to fill the Double-A Frisco utility role next season, as RoughRiders career hits leader Renny Osuna is expected to make the jump to Triple-A.

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