Rule 5 Recap: Red Sox Lose Pair

The Rule 5 draft in Nashville, TN Thursday provided further evidence of the Red Sox' improved minor league depth.

The Sox were one of there organizations to lose multiple players in the major league phase of the draft. Left-handed pitcher Jose Capellan and right-handed pitcher Lincoln Holdzkom were picked by the Giants and Phillies, respectively, with the fourth and 18th picks of the draft. Other teams to lose at least two players in the major league phase were the Twins (three) and Indians (two).

The Sox also lost pitcher Maurico Mendez to the Pirates in the Triple-A phase of the draft.

The Sox did not select anyone in any of the draft's three phases. It is the first time since Theo Epstein took over as general manager following the 2002 season that the Sox have not picked a player in the major league phase and the second straight season the Sox did not select anyone in the minor league phase of the draft—another acknowledgment of the improved depth within the system.

While the loss of Holdzkom—who was selected from the Cubs by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft last year—was somewhat anticipated, the departure of Capellan came as a surprise. Capellan, 21, was the youngest player selected in the major league phase and the only one to spend last season with a short-season affiliate.

Capellan went 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA while leading the Spinners in strikeouts (71) and innings (75 2/3) and allowing just 11 walks. He lasted five innings or more in each of his last 13 starts and impressed as the starter for Lowell during the "Futures At Fenway" game Aug. 11, when he allowed four hits in six innings and threw 46 of his 63 pitches for strikes.

Capellan, whom the Sox signed as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2003, was ranked 49th in Diehard's 2007 prospect issue and was expected to rise in the 2008 rankings. Still, given his youth and lack of experience in full-season ball and the rigid rules regarding Rule 5 draftees, his selection was unexpected.

The Giants must keep Capellan on the major league roster for the duration of next season or offer him back to the Sox for $25,000. Though the Giants are entering a rebuilding phase, it would seem to be difficult to find a way to keep Capellan on the roster for a full season. Even Johan Santana, the Holy Grail of Rule 5 selections, had spent a full season at Single-A when the Twins selected him from the Astros after the 1999 season.

Holdzkom, 25, went 5-1 with a 2.97 ERA and one save in 42 games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. He pitched for Mesa in the Arizona Fall League and went 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in seven appearances.

Holdzkom has an impressive fastball—he struck out 54 in 63 2/3 innings during the regular season and 10 in seven innings in the AFL and has recorded 291 whiffs in 269 innings over his seven-year career—but has struggled with his control. He walked 44 batters during the regular season and four in the AFL and has issued 159 walks overall as a pro. Given his control issues and the fact his 12 appearances this season with Pawtucket were his first ever above Double-A, he also seems likely to be offered back to the Sox sometime next year.

The Phillies are the fifth team to take a flyer on Holdzkom, who was drafted by the Marlins in the seventh round in 2001 and acquired via trade by the Cubs in March 2006. The Astros selected him in the Rule 5 draft last year and sent him back to the Cubs in March. He was among the Cubs' final cuts and was signed by the Sox in April.

Mendez was 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in 17 relief appearances for the rookie-level GCL Red Sox this season. He struck out 24 and walked 12 in 29 innings. Since he was selected in the minor league phase of the draft, Mendez can be sent anywhere within the Pirates chain without being offered back to the Sox. Mendez, 22, was signed by the Sox as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2003 and was not ranked in Diehard's 2007 prospect guide.


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752. To subscribe to Diehard or diehardmagazine.com, please CLICK HERE

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