NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Baseball’s top executives met one final time before departing the winter meetings Thursday morning for the annual Rule 5 Draft. And the Cardinals were busy at the Minor League level.
The Cardinals did not select a player in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft and had none of their players taken among the 15 overall selections.
They did lose Steven Hill, a catcher and first baseman who appeared in nine games with the Cardinals this season, in the Triple-A portion of the draft to Oakland. Hill was removed from the Cardinals’ 40-man roster after the season.
In the minor league portion, the Cardinals selected third baseman Matt Cerda off the Cubs’ Double-A roster and left-handed pitcher Jay Voss from the Tigers’ Double-A team.
Cerda was a fourth round pick by the Cubs in the 2008 draft. The 22-year-old is a left-handed hitter and has a career .263 average and .371 on-base percentage in five minor league seasons. He was the top player on the Cardinals’ list for the Triple-A phase.
“He’s a good on-base percentage guy, hits for average, solid defensively,” said Cardinals farm director John Vuch. “He’s not a big power guy so he’s not the prototypical third baseman in that regard but he’s good offensively and will be in the mix at Double-A, Triple-A, competing for a spot there.”
Voss, a native of nearby Breese, Illinois, is recovering from Tommy John surgery last May. The left-handed pitcher has a 4.69 ERA in six minor league seasons in Florida and Detroit’s farm system.
The Cardinals followed his rehab by reading a blog posted on the internet by one of his trainers or rehab coaches.
“He’s a guy that really, going through our reports, not that he’s a top-top elite prospect, but I think he was on some of Detroit’s top 20 lists,” Vuch said. “He’s a guy that probably they may have been banking that the health concerns would scare teams off, but we’re excited to have him. He’s not going to be a guy that’s an elite prospect for us but both these guys have a little bit of upside that they could maybe have a future.”
The Rule 5 Draft was designed to keep teams from stocking Major League ready talent in their Minor League systems. Players not on a team’s 40-man roster who have been in the minor leagues for either four years or five years depending on age are eligible to be selected.
If a team selects a player, he must be kept on that club’s 25-man big league roster for the entire season following the draft. Teams can place the player on waivers at any time and if he clears, must be offered back to his original team at half of the original $50,000 purchase price.
The Cardinals selected outfielder Erik Komatsu in last year’s 2011 Rule 5 Draft but he was designated for assignment in May and later claimed by the Seattle Mariners.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak and his front office group departed the Gaylord Opryland Hotel shortly after the Rule 5 Draft to begin the five-hour drive back to St. Louis.
The Cardinals are still interested in finding a veteran bat for the bench and adding middle infield depth. They signed lefty reliever Randy Choate to a three-year deal on Wednesday.