The annual Rule 5 Draft for 2017 has completed, with the White Sox less active than widely anticipated. But they exactly didn't stand pat either.
With the 4th overall pick in the Major League phase, the Sox selected outfielder Carlos Tocci from Philadelphia. The 22-year-old Tocci was the 23rd-ranked prospect in the Phillies' system according to MLB Pipeline, seen as a true center fielder with a feel for hitting. But about 14 minutes later (in reality it was likely a pre-arranged deal), before people could even get their heads around the move, he was traded to Texas in exchange for cash considerations.
Given that the White Sox had all but telegraphed their desire to be active in the draft, this was unexpected. The general thought process was that the team would likely pick a hard-throwing relief arm, given the breadth of those types available and the roster's glaring lack of bullpen depth. So why the lack of talent retained?
Hahn said Sox had two Rule 5 targets. One got taken before their slot, second one needed surgery. -James Fegan of The Athletic (@JRFegan)
The player they targeted may have been flame-throwing reliever Nick Burdi, who was selected ahead of them and is the brother of current ChiSox prospect Zack Burdi. But that's only a guess, and there has been no indication who the player is that required surgery (since Burdi already had his).
The South Siders did make a selection in the Minor League phase of the draft, picking up catcher Yermin Mercedes from the Orioles. He's a 24-year-old from the Dominican who will be 25 for the 2018 season, but has just 12 games in AA. First reaction from master of the Rule 5 domain, JJ Cooper:
Man can hit. Had a breakout year in 2016 but questions about his glove. -JJ Cooper of Baseball America (@jjcoop36)
Mercedes' career progression has been atypical. After three years in the Dominican Summer League with the Nationals, he spent 2014 in two different independent leagues stateside. Baltimore picked him up in 2015 to play in the SAL, where he got in just 64 games, putting up OK numbers. Then in 2016 he posted a .345/404/.570 line across A an A+ playing full time (122 games), including a whopping 20 home runs, to go with 31 doubles and 5 triples. His 2017 season across A+ and AA wasn't as spectacular (.795 OPS), but he still hit 16 long balls in 110 games while making good contact.
Probably the best news from the Rule 5 for the White Sox is that they did not lose anyone in either phase. It seemed the team could lose one or more of LHP Jordan Guerrero, INF Jake Peter and/or RHP Connor Walsh, but all will remain in the system.
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